Dalida

Active - 1955 - 1960  |   Born - Jan 17, 1933   |   Died - May 3, 1987   |   Genres - Drama, Music, Crime

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Although best known as a pop singer, Dalida also appeared in a dozen movies during an entertainment career lasting just over 30 years. Born Yolande Christina Giglioti in Cairo, Egypt, in 1933, she won the title of Miss Egypt in 1954, which included a role in a movie as part of the prize. She made her first credited screen appearance in the Egyptian-made feature Sigarah Wa Kas, directed by Niazi Mostafa. At that time, Giglioti started using the stage name Delila, owing to a resemblance between her and Hedy Lamarr in the role of Delilah in the Hollywood epic Samson and Delilah. Having quickly risen as far as she could in the Egyptian film industry, she went to Paris in hopes of expanding her movie career and got a role in the feature Le Masque de Toutankhamon, directed by Marco De Gastyne. She also altered the spelling of her stage name to Dalida and it stuck. She was discovered by Bruno Coquatrix, a producer at the Olympia Theater, radio producer Lucien Morisse, and record company owner Eddie Barclay, and was transformed over the next year into a singing star -- her second single, "Bambino", sold over a million copies in France and throughout Europe during 1956. Dalida continued appearing in movies through the late '50s and early '60s, playing straight acting roles in vehicles ranging from the spy thriller Rapt Aux Deuxieme Bureau (1958) to frothy sex comedies such as Menage Italian Style (1965). Most of these were not released in America (or were given only the most limited distribution), but were major successes in Europe. Although music was the major focus of her career from the early '60s onward, she never entirely gave up movies and, in 1986, the year before her death, she returned to her native Egypt to make a film, The Sixth Day, with director Youssef Chahine, an old friend from her early career, in which she gave what critics felt was a superb performance. Dalida was a larger-than-life presence in French and European popular culture. Vocally, she was somewhere between Petula Clark and Astrud Gilberto, but her personal life was closer to that of Judy Garland, marred by divorce, the suicide of one lover and also of her ex-husband. In 1967, she was hospitalized following a suicide attempt. Twenty years later, while seemingly in the midst of another comeback, she took her own life with an overdose of barbiturates.