Issued on • Modified
Hollywood star for French singing legend Charles Aznavour
French icon Charles Aznavour was honored on Thursday with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One of the 20th century's most prolific entertainers, he continues to write and perform at 93.
With a career spanning eight decades, the crooner has recorded 1,400 songs - 1,300 of which he wrote himself - and produced over 390 albums in multiple languages.
The star, who is also credited in more than 60 movies, defied detractors who pointed to his unconventional looks to become one of France's most iconic singers, dubbed the country's Frank Sinatra.
"Sinatra once said every song is a one-act play with one character, and Charles is an extraordinary actor as well as an extraordinary singer," film director Peter Bogdanovich, a friend of the star, said at the unveiling ceremony.
Aznavour delivered a brief message thanking well-wishers, explaining that he rarely speaks publicly in English as he doesn't feel his command of the language is good enough.
"French is my working language but my family language is always Armenian," he said, in front of hundreds of fans from both countries, as well as supporters from across the world gathered outside the historic Pantages Theater.
"After today, after that star there, I can be somebody that can say I'm also now a little bit Californian because I have my daughter here and my grandchildren."
Bogdanovich - whose movies include "What's Up, Doc" and "The Last Picture Show" - went through some of Aznavour's most popular hits, including "She," which he described as the greatest ever song about women, and paid tribute to Aznavour's energy and dedication.
"That he does what he does at 93 is an inspiration to all of us. He doesn't lack anything. He's the best," he added.
'An actor who sings'
Born Shahnour Varinag Aznavourian in Paris to Armenian immigrants on 22 May, 1924, Aznavour has sold more than 100 million records.
Aznavour's parents fled the Turkish-ruled Ottoman empire to escape the massacres being committed against their compatriots and landed in Paris, where they were waiting for a visa to head to the United States.
When the visa never materialized they ended up making their home in France, producing shows which Aznavour and his sister would take part in from a very young age.
He said in a recent interview with BBC radio he always saw himself "more as an actor who sings than a singer who acts."
Aznavour left school early and said he was always uncomfortable about his lack of higher education. But, after World War II, he teamed up with fellow French icon Edith Piaf, who took him to America and a solo career.
As her manager and songwriter, Aznavour lived with Piaf for eight years, once remarking he saw many of her lovers come and go but he was not one of them as "she was not my type."
Either way, Piaf's endless badgering for Aznavour to get a nose job eventually paid off.
"As for criticism, I have heard it all: They said I was ugly, short, that the ill should not be allowed to sing," he once said in an interview.
But Aznavour clearly defied all critics.
"I had an exemplary career I never could have dreamed of."
- with AFP