Élyane Célis

Snow White on records

Élyane Célis had so much success performing Snow White on record in France when the film was first released, that many were under the impression that it was she who also performed the role in the film, and this belief lasted for decades. Although it was Christiane Tourneur and Beatrice Hagen who recorded the spoken and sung roles respectively, Élyane Célis’ work is not to be underestimated. She recorded not only the songs, but also the film’s story, which has been reissued to this day.

Let composer Henri Bourtayre sum up the singer’s life.

Henri Bourtayre’s tribute

Her real name was Éliane Delmas, and she was born in Ixelles, Belgium, in 1914.

She wanted to be a piano teacher, and sang only for pleasure. She frequented a number of amateur societies, where her extraordinary soprano voice was soon noticed and appreciated.

In 1935, she was hired by Henri Varna to appear in the new Casino de Paris revue “Parade du monde” alongside Maurice Chevalier, who was the star of the show. She created the song “Piroulirouli”, which was a great success. She was awarded the Grand Record Award in 1935 and became a star in her own right. From then on, her successes were countless (…).

In 1938, she performed the French phonographic version of the hits from Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs“. She also created the famous Cuban tune “Maria la O” with the Lecuona Cuban Boys orchestra.

Married to songwriter Marcel Delmas, she alternated between galas and operetta for many years. Her singing tour at the Music Hall was also a great show. A marvelous symphony of pink and grey. The audience discovers her seated on a huge piano, completely covered by her pink dress with frothy ruffles and a stage backdrop draped in grey velvet. She is blonde, smiling, with a bouquet of red roses in her arms. Her voice soars pure, crystalline and supple, and the enthusiastic audience bursts into applause.

Her interpretations of these celestial arias from comic operas and musical films led to a long series of successes: “Beaux soirs de Vienne”, “Ciribidibin”, “Mon cœur soupire”…

In 1945, at the request of Maréchal Leclerc, her husband wrote a song for the French 2nd armored division, “Lorsque demain”. The other side of this 78 rpm, “Baisse un peu l’abat-jour”, became one of her biggest hits.

Unfortunately, in 1954, she was forced to give up singing, as her health no longer allowed it.

She died in 1962 in her apartment on boulevard de Clichy in Paris, close to Place Pigalle, where she lived for twenty-five years.

She was “the nightingale of the music hall”.

Élyane Célis
Élyane Célis

What Bourtayre fails to mention is that he composed the song “Baisse un peu l’abat-jour”. To add some precision, Élyane Célis was born on April 10, 1914. After retiring from professional life, Élyane Célis returned to television in 1960, appearing on the program Rue de la gaité, which brought together former glories of the chanson world. She died on June 15, 1962.