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Iolanda Cristina Gigliotti[1] (Italian: [joˈlanda kriˈstiːna dʒiʎˈʎɔtti]; 17 January 1933 – 3 May 1987), better known as Dalida (Egyptian Arabic: داليدا‎), was a French-Italian-Egyptian singer and actress who spent most of her career in France. She won the Miss Egypt beauty contest in 1954.[2] She performed and recorded in 11 languages (French, Italian, German, Spanish, English, Egyptian and Levantine Arabic, Japanese, Hebrew, Dutch and Greek). In Europe, she popularized musical genres like the twist (as dance), pop, disco, reggae, and, globally the raï.

Dalida19673 (cropped).jpg
Dalida in 1967
Born Iolanda Cristina Gigliotti
(1933-01-17)17 January 1933
Cairo, Egypt
Died 3 May 1987(1987-05-03) (aged 54)
Paris, France
Cause of death Suicide by barbiturate overdose
Other names
Yolanda Gigliotti
Mademoiselle Bambino
Mademoiselle succès
Mademoiselle jukebox
La vedette
Reine du disco
  • Singer
  • actress
  • model
  • dancer
  • businesswoman
  • comedian
  • record producer
  • television host
  • songwriter
Years active 1956–1987 (singer)
1953–1968, 1986 (actress)
Title Miss Egypt
  • Lucien Morisse
    (m. 1961; div. 1962)
Awards Full list
Musical career
Instruments Vocals
Dalida autogram signature.png

Her career began in 1956 and ended with her last album in 1986, half a year before she committed suicide. She performed at concerts until her last days. Her death led to an iconic image as a tragic diva and renowned singer. According to Universal Music, she has sold 140 million albums and singles worldwide.[3]


Early lifeEdit

Gigliotti was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. Her family migrated from Serrastretta, Calabria, Italy during the 1920s and settled in the Shubra quartier of Cairo, where Dalida was born. Dalida's father, Pietro Gigliotti (1904–1945), was primo violino (first violinist) at the Cairo Opera House, while Dalida's mother Giuseppina (née Rossi 1906–1971) was a seamstress. She was the middle child between two brothers, Orlando (1928–1992) and Bruno (who later changed his name to Orlando like his brother and became her manager in 1966).[4]


At the age of 10 months, Iolanda caught an eye infection and had to wear a bandage for 40 days.[5] She sometimes cried day and night so her father played her lullabies on violin. Eventually, she had to undergo two eye operations and as a result, she was wearing glasses in elementary school. She attended the Scuola Tecnica Commerciale Maria Ausiliatrice, an Italian Catholic school. In 1940, the Allied forces captured her father, Pietro, and other Italian men from her quarter and took them in the prisoner camp Fayed in a desert near Cairo.[3] When Pietro was released in 1944, he came back home as a completely different person. He was reportedly so violent that Iolanda and other children in the neighbourhood were scared of him. Dalida later recalled, "I hated him when he beat me, I hated him especially when he beat my mom and brothers. I wanted him to die… and he did." When Pietro died in 1946 from Brain abscess, Iolanda was just 13. That traumatic period in her early life was reflected later when she searched for male person in her life.[6][7]

Teen yearsEdit

During the same period, she was bullied for wearing large glasses, she later mentioned, "I was [sic] enough of it, I would rather see the world in blur than wear glasses, so I threw them through the window."[8] In the same period, her uncle was a projectionist of a local Italian/French language cinema, so sometimes he gave her free seats and movie posters. For the first time, young Iolanda caught a glimpse of Hollywood, and gained an interest in acting, being fascinated by Ava Gardner and Rita Hayworth, who later became her icons. She dreamed to look like them and become an actress.[9] During her teen years, Iolanda had metamorphosed into a beautiful young woman, eventually becoming popular in her neighbourhood. She also dreamed about becoming a writer, nurse or even joining the religion. By 1949, now in high school, she started to get involved in school plays, but from her point of view, becoming a professional actress was mission impossible.[10]


In 1951, Iolanda was 18 years old and got her first job of a secretarial typist in an import/export company of pharmaceutical products. One evening, her best friend Miranda showed her the newspapers call for joining the Miss Ondine, a minor Cairo beauty pageant. Miranda was hastened to join, and she wanted Iolanda to accompany her or even go by herself. The awards were the preferred female accessories. Iolanda joined under two conditions: to be the minor one and that her mom Giuseppina mustn't find out. Unexpectedly, Iolanda won the second prize and Miranda was second runner-up.[3] In the fairy of happiness, the girls photographed with the jury and other contestants. They could not even imagine that the pictures would come out in the newspapers the next day and that her mother would find out. Anxious to inflict her a punishment she will remember, Giuseppina forcibly cuts her hair short that next day. Iolanda instantly regretted what she did. By the time, her mother finally had given up on her principles and Iolanda left her job to start modelling for Donna, a Cairo-based fashion house. On 17 January, 1954, on her 21st birthday, her mom gave her a blessing for joining Miss Egypt competition. Dalida won the title and automatically became the representative of Egypt on Miss World in London, in late 1955.[3]

Acting debutEdit

This victory indeed opened her the doors of the Egyptian cinema. The election was attended by an Egyptian director Niazi Mostafa and a French director Marco de Gastyne. Niazi immediately hired her for his new film, Sigarah wa kas.[11] Gastyne proposed her a minor role of spy in The Mask of Tutankhamun. Excited for the fulfilment of her dream and the lack of time, Iolanda decided to leave her prize to her first runner-up. Eventually, Egypt didn't even attend Miss World 1954 because of hostilities between Egypt and United Kingdom over Suez Canal.[12][13] A few weeks later, a major Egyptian producer represented her an exclusive five-year contract. She refused it without any hesitations because she had other ambitions since a conversation with Gastyne, who, convinced in her talent, advised her to try her luck in Paris. It was then when she decided to take a stage name Dalila, for which she later explained, "Because it was a very frequent name in Egypt and I liked it a lot."[14] Throughout 1954, she realized her first two movie roles in Sigarah wa kas and The Mask of Tutankhamun[15] and on posters for films Iolanda appeared as Dalila.

Relocation to FranceEdit

On 25 December, 1954, in 10 hours, Dalila left Egypt for Paris with a round-trip ticket in her purse, which she hoped she wouldn't use anytime soon. Her first shock was Paris under snow as she had never seen snow before in her life. Her first residence was a room in an apartment of Gastyne's friend Vidal at 49 rue de Ponthieu. Every week, Iolanda wrote to her family that everything was fine, but the truth was far from this case.[15] She was losing money, and none of her meetings with directors got her to work. Due to the demand for space, Vidal gave her the keys to a new and smaller apartment in 34 Rue Jean Mermoz, between the Champs-Élysées and rue Saint-Honoré. Her first neighbour was a young soldier, back from three months service in Indochina; he was Alain Delon.[16] They were both young people who lacked money, spending time together and it was usual for them to exchange eggs and milk. At the end, they fell in love and ended in a relationship.[17]

Singing breakthroughEdit

Dalila realized soon that she wouldn't achieve any success, so she decided to try in singing. Vidal presented her Roland Berger, a friend professor who accepted to give her singing lessons 7 days per week at a low price. He was very strict and he used to yell, with Dalila responding him louder. Their lessons sometimes ended with her slamming the door, but she always returned the next day. Considering her progress, Berger made possible to her to perform in prestige venue Le Drap d'Or, near Champs-Élysées. There she was spotted by director of La Villa d'Este who enabled her a series of performances.[18] After one performance, writer and screenwriter Albert Marchard advised Dalila to change her name to Dalida because it resembled too much of the movie Samson and Dalila.[19] She immediately accepted it. Other night, she was assisted by Bruno Coquatrix who proposed her to participate in his singing contest Les Numéros 1 de demain, that was scheduled on 9 April 1956 at his Olympia concert hall. In future years, Coquatrix said that "... her voice is full of colour and volume, and has all that men love: gentleness, sensuality and eroticism."[20] Three friends; Bruno Coquatrix, Eddie Barclay and Lucien Morisse were present at the event. They were thrilled with her performance and the same week she signed a contract with Barclay. That trio eventually played a considerable part in launching her career. Coquatrix was the director of Olympia, then largest playing venue in Paris, Barclay was the owner of Barclay Records, the largest producing house in France and Morisse was the artistic director of newly established radio Europe n°1.[10]


1956–1959: DebutEdit

She signed a one-year recording contract with Barclay that consisted of the release of ten EPs with the addition of two LPs. Dalida's debut EP in 1956 contained her first ever recorded song, Madona; it was promoted heavily by Morisse and was a moderate success. However, the release of Bambino on her third EP in late 1956 spent 31 weeks as #1 in French charts.[21] It gained Dalida her first gold disc, presented on 19 September 1957. Immediately, her contract was extended for 2 more years. In the same year, in Olympia, she would support Charles Aznavour.[20]

The release of Bambino was followed up with the release of her first album in early 1957 titled Son nom est Dalida (Her name is Dalida). On Christmas 1957, Exotic-sounding Gondolier was released. She didn't wait to achieve more success; Gongolier replaced Bambino as #1.[22] She soon started singing in German and Italian, and releasing songs there. In 1958, Am tag als der Regen kam reached #1 at German charts.[23]

She toured extensively in early 1959 playing sold out dates in France, Egypt, Italy, Germany and the United States. Her tours of Egypt and Italy spread her fame outside France and Dalida soon became well known throughout Europe. However, she waited too long before entering America's music scene, and though great names of the American music industry wanted to introduce her to the United States, she refused the contract for the first time in 1959.[24]'[25]

The songs Histoire d'un amour (1956), Come prima (1958), Ciao ciao bambina (1959), Guitare et Tambourin (1959) mark the first phase of Dalida's career and still hold significance today.

1960–1966: International breakthroughEdit

Dalida in 1960.

Dalida entered the 1960s with exotic-high vocal style songs with low speed. The beginning of 1960 was when she released Les enfants du Pirée ("Never on Sunday"). However, a new wave of music appeared, and in France it was known as yé-yé by new and unknown young singers which were considered to be her rivals. She became irritated seeing the charts were occupied by songs that disappeared from the charts quickly. She knew that her genre of music was likely to lose the interest of her current and future fans, so she decided to adapt in her own way. By combining styles such as twist, exotica, rock and roll, she had a new musical style in less than two months, and kept it with only minor changes until 1967.[26][unreliable source]

Recording the song Itsi bitsi petit bikini in November 1960 secured her popularity. The song peaked at #1.[27] During the 1960s, Dalida would perform a month of shows at Olympia three times (1961, 1964, 1967), all of them sellouts. Three weeks of concerts in 1961, Olympia was broadcast live by radio. Shortly afterwards, Dalida embarked upon a tour to Hong Kong and Vietnam. Other international dates became more frequent and she became a popular singer in Italy. The year 1962 was marked with the release of Le jour le plus long.[28]

In 1963, she released the song Eux. In the same year, she had another triumph in Olympia. Again she toured, in 1964 she was in East Europe (Bulgaria, Romania). In 1965, she released La danse de Zorba, that peaked #3 in France,[29] it also won Brazilian award Chico Viola. Mikis Theodorakis personally adapted the song for her in French[30] and Italian.[31]

Some of her other 1960s hits were Garde moi la dernière danse (1961), Papa achète moi un Juke box (1962), Le petit Gonzales (1962), Bonsoir mon amour (1964), (1966) and Bang bang (1966). Her songs from this period are today widely known as "typical 60s".

In late 1966, Barclay introduced her to Luigi Tenco, young and new Italian cantautor. The purpose was their singing together on the upcoming Sanremo music festival '67. It was a tradition that already known and popular singers sing together in duet with minor singers. Dalida was the big singer and Tenco was at his debut. They were supposed to sing his song Ciao amore, ciao.[32]

Dalida in 1967.

1967–1973: IconEdit

In the first few weeks of 1967, Dalida released the French version of Ciao amore, ciao as a single. She sang the song on Sanremo Music festival in January 1967, but she didn't pass. Again, in November, she organized 4 weeks of shows at Olympia, all sold out. Following the first night of the concert, she released for the first time, an album named after Olympia called Olympia67. She will continue that until her last show at Olympia in 1981. The album contained new songs alongside with Ciao amore, ciao. It was then when she caught up routine to hold weeks of concerts at Olympia every 3–4 years.

Back in France in late 1967, she recorded the nostalgic song Le temps des fleurs influenced by Russian traditional music. Following its release in early 1968, the song peaked #1.[33][34]

The same year she won Oscar de Canzonissima, awarded by the biggest TV show in Italy. In December, she was awarded the Médaille de la Présidence de la République by Charles de Gaulle, then French president. She is the only person from the show business to ever have received this medal.[35]

In this period, her repertoire changed completely. In 1968, after gaining a keen interest in academia (Freud, David Cooper, Jean Hamburger…), she chose to sing songs with more profound lyrics. She tried to probe into her inner-self and declared that she would sing only those songs which have a meaning for her. Every year's new releases were melancholic or fully attached to her personal life. That was completely influenced by Tenco's death. Also, from 1969 to 1972 she would frequently go to Asia on spiritual recoveries with gurus. The first few years of 1970s became a transitional period for the singer, highlighted by successful touring through Europe, Asia and Japan.

She recorded the very popular hit Darla dirla dada in 1970.[36] Then she started to add more joyful songs to her repertoire.

Bruno Coquatrix was dubious about Dalida's career evolution, and was hesitant to book her for a series of performances in 1971. Dalida hired the hall herself, and all 30 days of the show were met with an impressive public response. She again released the album named by Olympia, but this time Olympia71 was released as a live album (first live LP in her career). All of her three Olympia albums from 70s will be live.

In 1972, she covered the theme from Godfather in French as Parle plus bas, selling over 300,000 copies.[37] That same year she met Richard Chanfray, a socialite known as Count of St. Germain.

In 1973, she recorded Paroles Paroles in duet with Alain Delon, which became #9 in France,[33] #17 in Turkey,[38] #3 in Mexico, #3 in Portugal, #10 in the county of Wallonia[39] and #28 in Japan.[40] Some of her other hits from this period were Petruska (1969) in Germany and Mamy Blue (1971) in Italy.[41]

1974–1975: ZenithEdit

By the end of 1973 Dalida released the promotional single A side Il venait d'avoir 18 ans with B side Non ce n’est pas pour moi. In that same time, she released the album Julien that gathers most of her 1973 songs. The song Il venait d'avoir 18 ans quickly started gaining success and it was again released in the beginning of 1974 but as B-side to single A-side Gigi l'amoroso. Il venait d'avoir 18 ans peaked #37[42] in Italy, #3 in Quebec,[43] #33 in county of Flanders[44] and #13 in Germany,[38]'[45] while Gigi l'amoroso beat the record held by Frank Sinatra's Strangers in the night from 1966 for the most sold single in Benelux and charted #4 in France, #1 in Switzerland,[46] #2 in Netherlands,[47] #1 in county of Flanders, #3 in Quebec and #2 in Spain.[38] The first performance of both songs was during her concerts in Olympia 1974. The whole 4 weeks were sold out and a triumph for the singer, and was followed again with a live album Olympia75.

In February 1975, French music critics awarded the singer with the prestigious Prix de l'Académie du Disque Français. Touring from 1974 to 1975 would follow this period of unprecedented sales.[48] During 1975, she released duet Et de l'amour de l'amour with her partner Richard.[49]

1976–1980: Disco queenEdit

By the end of 1975, Dalida released a new album that gathered some songs from singles released in 1974 and '75 plus some new material. Most of the songs were from the same genre except for the title song J'attendrai which was of the disco genre. J'attendrai immediately gained success and was released as a single in January 1976. It reached #1 on the French charts and was the first French disco hit in French speaking countries. Achieving that, Dalida holds the title of the inventor of French disco.[50][51][52]

Around the same time, the popularity of the variety show was soaring in France, and Dalida started making television appearances on a weekly basis there and across Europe.

Following her newly disco success, in mid 1976 she released a new album with completely new songs, most of them disco. The most notable one was Besame mucho (#8 in France and #10 in Turkey).[38]

1977 was a successful year for Dalida both in her private and professional life. She released 3 albums. One of them was live Olympia77, released following her again 4-week triumph at Olympia in 1977. The other 2 were albums with completely new songs. Salma Ya Salama became first Raï hit in the world. Due to its success in original Arabic, the song was translated into French, Italian, and German. Part of the lyrics are based on an old Egyptian folk song about homesickness and celebrating the Egyptian nation.

She continued touring the world, including the USA, for the second time since the 50s, by playing 2 nights in Carnegie Hall in New York City, where she appeared in November 1978. The New York Times review of the Carnegie Hall concert, praised Dalida's performance and noted its intimacy and intensity after she began to converse midway through it, revealing her personality. Almost the whole English speaking world was not introduced to Dalida, so most of the public were French citizens. The concerts were almost sold out, but nevertheless it was another triumph for her. Due to the concert, she was offered again a contract with America, but she refused it for the second time.

In February, during her 1977 Canada tour, an obsessed fan tried to kidnap her by using a hammer but did not succeed. The case was well tracked by most newspapers and was a big story that was well talked about.[53]

Other hit performances of Dalida include "The Lambeth Walk" sung in English and French. The song "Je suis malade", written and originally performed by Serge Lama was made into a success by Dalida during 1977 although she released it in 1973. In 1979, Dalida recorded her biggest disco hit "Monday, Tuesday... Laissez-moi danser" (Monday Tuesday...let me dance). The song was a smash hit peaking #2 on the French charts. By the end of 1979, she released the semi-biographical song "Comme disait la mistinguett" where she, through music, speaks about herself in a fun way. Her debut of 1980 was marked by the release of a big disco hit "Rio do Brasil". Then she released the album "Gigi in Paradisco", named by title song that was a sequel to her previous hit "Gigi l'amoroso".[20]

In 1979, Dalida met Lester Wilson, they agreed to work together and he became her choreographer for the upcoming spectacle in Palais des Sports. The spectacle was booked for in January 1980. In total, Dalida performed 3h for 15 days, more than 10 costume changes, 12 dancers, and total public of around 90,000 people. Palais des Sports of Paris was the largest playing venue in Paris and also one of the biggest in France so triumph there was the same as the triumph in already mythical Olympia.[54]

Following the spectacle, Dalida released the double live album Le spectacle du Palais des Sports 1980 and organized a new European tour and minor World tour. She toured in the whole Western and Eastern Europe except Yugoslavia and SSSR. Also, she held concerts in Brasil, USA and Canada. When she came back, she organized a tour across the whole of France delivering more 20 sold out concerts monthly across French countryside and cities. In 1980, problems in her private life appeared again. Her inside tournaments were reflected in the profound song "A ma maniere".[55]

1981–1984: DivaEdit

Very quickly Dalida left disco and started singing slower moody deep minded songs with typical 80s instruments. It was all caused again by escalating problems in her private life (break up with St. Germain in 1981). That same year she started to sing more often her 1973 song "Je suis malade" ("I am sick"). Her performances of that song during that year and later on, are today one of her most remembered performances. The song has also become her signature track. Dalida had popularized it globally, singing it because it reflects her personal torments and unhappiness, and has shown emotions that are, thus to numerous covers.

From March to April 1981, she held a month of sold-out concerts at the Olympia in Paris, emulating her successful 1980 tour. It became her last Olympia concert because the following year Olympia went bankrupt until 1989. On the night of her inaugural performance, she became the first singer to be awarded with a diamond disc, in recognition of her record sales which, at that point in her career, have reached 65 million.[56] Olympia was followed up by the release of her last named Olympia album "Olympia81", but this time not live. That same year she refused to be a model for Marianne of France.[57]

Instead of disco, Dalida started to record dance songs that quickly replaced disco in France and had occupied the clubs. In the end of 1981, Dalida starred in New Year TV spectacle called "Special Dalida". She was half host and sang her songs.

At the beginning of 1982, she had many TV appearances singing new songs still unreleased. All that resulted with the release of a new dance album "Special Dalida". She was now ruling dance scene. The most remembered songs of the album are the dance songs "Jouez bouzouki", "Danza" and moody "Nostalgie". Dalida launched a new world tour in 1982 and spent most of 1982 to 1984 delivering sold-out concerts from Rio de Janeiro, across Europe, to Asia. Her TV appearances were highly often in the 80s, almost every second week.

In the summer of 1982, during the FIFA world cup, just as many other singers, Dalida released a song for the French representation "La chanson du Mundial" (#17 in France).[38]

In the first part of 1983, she released several songs and the most notable of them was "Mourir sur scène". The dance-pop song has very profound lyrics and has stayed a big hit still today, one of the signature tracks by Dalida. Most of her songs of 1983 were gathered on her album released in mid '83 "Les p'tits mots", which featured other singles as "Lucas" and "Bravo".

By the beginning of 1984, her private problems escalated again, so she couldn't dedicate as much time to her career as she would have wanted. Although, she recorded a new repertoire completely of dance songs, like "Soleil" and "Kalimba de Luna". In mid '84, she recorded the album "Dali", gathering all songs released that same year. To promote the album, a television special was later released on VHS named "Dalida Idéale", it was filmed in 1984, and directed by the then highly rated director Jean-Christophe Averty. This highly campy television special includes Dalida singing in 7 languages and dancing her way through a huge number of her earlier hits, all with the best video effects available at the time. Dalida also had a prestigious wardrobe during this show, changing more than 40 outfits from the best French and international fashion designers, showing off her amazing mannequin body for a woman of her age and keeping her "Glamour" and "DIVA" trademark gained during the disco era in the late seventies.

1985–1987: Final yearsEdit

Dalida's eye problems returned again. She underwent two major eye operations in 1985, and she put her career on hiatus as the stage lights started to become difficult for her to endure.[25] She released Reviens-moi, a cover of George Michael's Last Christmas. During early 1985, she occasionally had some live performances, as well as many TV appearances. When her eyes recovered in mid 1985, she accepted the role of a young grandmother in the Youssef Chahine film Le Sixième Jour. As she always wanted to become an actress, she temporarily disregarded her singing career and fully devoted herself to the movie. She returned to France to promote the movie in late 1985.

In 1986, she released Le Visage de l'amour with completely new recordings, and some singles from the album, which would become her last album. Le temps d'aimer and Le Vénitien de Levallois were minor hit songs that failed to achieve bigger success upon their release. She did promote the album, but not as well as she used to do previously, due to issues in her private life which has never been worse since 1967. Dalida, therefore, spent more and more time in her house alone or going out with friends in an attempt to amuse herself, again neglecting her career.

Instead of promoting new songs, she would once again organize a lot of concerts on a monthly base, singing her previously-known hits. Dalida was then known for the amazing "show" performances, wearing her wardrobe from 1980–1982. She sung glamourous disco-dance songs from same period such as Je suis toutes les femmes, Gigi in paradisco, Il faut danser reggae, Monday, Tuesday..., Comme disait la Mistinguett.

By the beginning of 1987, Dalida was entering into severe depression while trying to overcome it. Although no new songs had been recorded, she toured internationally from Los Angeles to the Middle East. Being part of the music spotlight in 1978, many of her songs appeared daily on TV, as well as many notable TV appearances in talk shows from 1986–1987. Her last live TV appearance was hosting the Nuit des César on 7 March 1987. Her last live performance took place in Antalya, Turkey, from 27 to 29 April 1987, just before her suicide.[58] Her performance was not recorded by the national television of Turkey which was the only TV channel in the country.

Death and funeralEdit

Dalida's grave and monument.

On the night of 2 May to 3, 1987, Dalida committed suicide by overdosing on barbiturates.[59][60] She left behind a note which read, "La vie m'est insupportable... Pardonnez-moi." ("Life is unbearable for me... Forgive me.")

Dalida is buried at the Montmartre Cemetery, 18th Division, Chemin des Gardes.

Personal lifeEdit

While Dalida was professionally very successful, her private life was marred by a series of failed relationships and personal problems.

In January 1967, she took part in the Sanremo Festival with her new lover, Italian singer, songwriter, and actor Luigi Tenco. The song he presented was "Ciao amore ciao" ("Bye Love, Bye"), which he sang together with Dalida. But, stressed, Tenco failed despite Dalida's performance. Tenco committed suicide on 27 January 1967, after learning that his song had been eliminated from the final competition. Tenco was found by Dalida in his hotel room with a bullet wound in his left temple and a note announcing that his gesture was against the jury and public's choices during the competition.[61] Prior to Tenco's suicide, Dalida and him had become engaged.[62] One month later, Dalida attempted to commit a suicide by drug overdose at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Paris. She spent five days in a coma and several months convalescing.[63] Dalida returned to the stage the following October.[64]

Dalida's house at rue d'Orchampt, Montmartre, Paris

In December 1967, she became pregnant by a 22-year-old Italian student, Lucio. She had an abortion that left her infertile.[65]

In September 1970, her former husband (1956–1961) Lucien Morisse, with whom she was on good terms, committed suicide, shooting himself in the head.[66]

In April 1975, her close friend, singer Mike Brant leapt to his death from an apartment in Paris. He was 28.[67] Dalida had contributed to his success in France when he opened concerts for her in 1971 at l'Olympia.[68]

In July 1983, her lover from 1972 to 1981, Richard Chanfray, committed suicide by inhaling the exhaust gas of his Renault 25 car.[69]

Public image, influence and legacyEdit

Since her death, Dalida has become a cult figure to a new generation of fans. In 1988, the Encyclopædia Universalis commissioned a poll, published in the French newspaper Le Monde, that aimed to reveal the personalities who had the greatest impact on French society. Dalida polled second, behind Général de Gaulle.[70]

She is also a gay icon in France.[71]

Dalida's bust at Dalida's Square

In 2003, for the award "Greatest Singer of the Century" in France (based on three criteria: numbers of album and single sales, number of radio airplays and chart positions), Dalida was placed third after Madonna and Céline Dion, which means that she remained the number one favorite artist in France.

Her output has also been the subject of various remix albums. Since her death, many of Dalida's hits have been remixed to modern techno and dance beats.[72] In 2009 Lara Fabian said that Dalida had influenced the most on her.[73]


  • 1965 – F.O.P. Poll: 'Favourite French singer'
  • 1976 – Dalida was voted 'Woman of the Year' in Canada, ahead of Jackie Kennedy)
  • 1982 – Paris Match magazine survey revealed that Dalida was the only representative from show business to appear in a list of most influential French women.
  • 1985 – Dalida was voted 'Favourite French singer' (Télé 7 Jours magazine).
  • 1986 – VSD magazine published a survey in which Dalida was voted 'Favourite French singer'.
  • 1988 – SOFRES/Encyclopædia Universalis: In a survey asking the French public which events had the greatest impact on the French public between 1968 and 1988, 16% of the French public voted the 'Death of Général de Gaulle' and 10% voted the 'Death of Dalida'.
  • 1989 – Encyclopædia Universalis: By examining the proof of the criteria to find out which person had the biggest impact on French society, it was concluded that Dalida is the second, just after president de Gaulle.
  • 2001 – IFOP Survey: Dalida was voted the 'Most important female singer who had the greatest impact on French society in the 20th century', along with Édith Piaf.
  • 2005 – Dalida was voted the 'Favourite singer in 2004' amongst Italians, and held seventh place amongst the most collected musical artists in Italy.
  • 2005 – Dalida was voted 'Top 58th French person of all time' in a survey sponsored by the France 2 television channel. The only women from the show business which appeared in this list were Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot, Simone Signoret, Édith Piaf and Dalida.

Awards and achievementsEdit

Dalida is the most consecrated artist in the history of France. During her life and posthumously, she has collected various international awards that no European artist has ever obtained.[74] Dalida is the only person in Europe who has ever achieved such fame without any releases in American and the UK market.[75][76] She sold 120 million records worldwide during her lifetime and has sold 20 million records since her death.[3] Her singles and albums have received more than 90 certifications.[77]

Her early success of Bambino made Barclay accept the practice of other producers in the world who had already awarded their singers with golden certifications, so, on 19 September 1957, Bambino becomes the first record in the history of France to be certified gold. Barclay had not been the official certification association, but has faithfully served its 300,000-copy gold certification award over the years.

In 1964, by the hands of Barclay, Dalida received the certification Platinum Disk for Accumulated Sales of over 10 million discs sold in the previous seven years of her career. It was the first time in world history that the term "platinum disk" was used and awarded to a singer. It is also the first time that a disk certification for lifetime achievement/accumulated sales was awarded.[78] In 1976 RIAA introduced a new platinum award. The inspiration for the name came after this Dalida's achievement 12 years earlier.[79]

In 1981, Dalida celebrated 25 years of her career. On the first night of her Olympia concerts on 17 January 1981, Orlando awarded Dalida with a Diamond Disk for Lifetime Achievement and 45 million units sold. The event was a live transmission. It is also the first time in world history that the term "diamond disk" was used and awarded to a singer. In 1999, RIAA introduced a new diamond award, inspired by Dalida's achievement.[79]

Other appearancesEdit


Print advertising

  • 1960 for Permaflex, matress.
  • 1966 for Margnat, vine[80].
  • 1968 for hand watches (it is notable for mass popularizing small type of hand watches between young population)[80].
  • 1970 for Armand Thiery and Sigrand, wardrobe.
  • 1976 for Saint-Raphaël, apéritif.
  • 1986 for Wizard Sec, air freshener (she wore her famous Loris Azzaro dress)[80].


Year Company Promoting Theme Soundtrack Country
1960 Permaflex Matress Dalida laying on bed and talking about Permaflex mattress Mes frères Italy
1986 Wizard Sec Air freshener Dalida dancing through house and spraying around Wizard Sec on rhythm of music Adaptation of Gigi l'amoroso France

Music in motion pictures and TVEdit

Dalida’s songs have appeared in 36 action films, of which there are two biographical films: Dalida (2005) and Dalida (2017). In addition, a documentary with her songs was recorded during her life. After her death, dozens of documentaries with her songs were recorded.

Theatrical and movie adaptations of Dalida's lifeEdit

Several theatrical productions have been made about Dalida's life. At least a dozen theatrical adaptations of Dalida's life in addition to the ones listed below have been performed at schools or in independent productions.[citation needed]

  • In 1999, the play Solitudini – Luigi Tenco e Dalida, written and directed by Maurizio Valtieri, was performed in Rome.[81]
  • "Dalida: Une Vie", directed by René Simard and under the authorization of Orlando Productions, was performed from October 2003 to June 2006, in Quebec, Canada, and was shown in Beirut, Lebanon in May 2004.[82]
  • In 2005 a two-part television film, Dalida, in which Dalida was portraited by Sabrina Ferilli,[83] was first broadcast on France 2, reaching 13 million viewers. It was France 2's highest viewership since its inception, beating TF1 the same evening during the broadcast of a football match. The film still holds the record.[3]
  • In 2005, the play "Dalida, à quoi bon vivre au mois de mai ?", written by Joseph Agostini and Caroline Sourrisseau, was performed at the Ateliers Théâtre in Montmartre.[84]
  • In 2017, the film Dalida, directed by Lisa Azuelos and assisted by Orlando Productions, featured Sveva Alviti as Dalida.[85] The film achieved moderate success. Its premiere was at Olympia Music Hall, the first time that the hall hosted a film presentation.[86]

Dalida in Art (selection)Edit

  • Raymond Moretti: Dalida (Oil on canvas, 1957).
  •  ?: Dalida (Oil on canvas, 1968).
  • Magguy Crouzet: Dalida (Portrait in dot-sculpture, 1976).
  • Michel Souvais: Dalida, femme est la nuit (Oil on canvas, 1977).
  • Alain Aslan: Dalida (Yolanda Gigliotti), funerary statue (Bronze sculpture, 1987).
  • Alain Aslan: Dalida (Yolanda Gigliotti) (Bronze bust, 1997).
  • Francesco Gallo: Dalida (Yolanda Gigliotti) (Bronze sculpture, 2007).
  • FS62: Dalida (Black and white portrait in acrylic, 2008).
  • HK: Dalida Ideal (Oil on canvas, 2018).


During her life, Dalida was tributed several times, mostly by awards specially created for her. After her death, various artists covered her songs, some of them to pay her a tribute. Dozens of concerts, galas and TV appearances were held in several European countries to annually commemorate the anniversary of her death. Below are listed some of most notable tributes to Dalida since 1987;

  • In 1987, Dalida was posthumously honoured with a commemorative coin minted by The French Mint, Monnaie de Paris, issued in gold, bronze and silver, bearing her effigy.[87][88]
  • In 1988, the TV show Dalida was shown on French TV to commemorate 1 year of her death. The show theme consisted on ballet dancers dancing to the rhythm of her songs, and media personalities talking about her life.[89]
  • In 1988, Dalida was posthumously honoured by the "International Star Registry" (US), with the issuance of a diploma.[90]
  • In 1994, Lara Fabian paid homage to Dalida by covering her version of Je suis malade. The song is not the biggest commercial success of Lara Fabian, but among people in non French-speaking countries it eventually became her biggest hit song.[91]
  • In 1995, Shirley Bassey, Dalida's longtime friend, performed "Born to Sing" (english version of "Mourir sur scène") during some concerts as part of her 40th anniversary world tour. She also performed the song several more times on TV during the 90s.
  • In 1996, Celine Dion and Alain Delon performed the song "Paroles, paroles" on the 1996 New Year's Eve France 2 television program.
  • In 1997, the establishment of Dalida Square in Montmartre on the 10th anniversary of her death. The event was transmitted live by TF1.[92] The next month, when the bust was erected on the square, she became one of only three women in France to have a statue erected for her, along with Joan of Arc and Sarah Bernhardt.
  • In 1998, Sarah Brightman's released the song "There for Me", an English-language version of "Fini, la comédie". The song first appeared on her Time to Say Goodbye album, featuring José Cura. It was also released as a single, with "O mio babbino caro" as the B-side track. Often on her 2000/2001 La Luna tour, Brightman would perform this duet with Josh Groban, and this was included in the La Luna: Live in Concert DVD.[93]
  • In 1998, a tribute ceremony was held on 27 October in Cairo and the "Dalida Prize" was established and awarded in her honour.[94]
  • In 2000, Charles Aznavour dedicated his new song "De la scène à la Seine" to Dalida, and it appeared on his new album Aznavour, 2000.
  • In 2000, Sarah Hohn (featuring Wehrlen), released a cover of the song "Paroles, paroles".[95]
  • In 2001, the French government honoured her with a second stamp bearing her likeness which was released by La Poste, the French postal service, as part of the Artistes de chanson (Artists of the song) series. In 2003, Dalida arrives in the leading point with 10 157 601 copies sold.[96]
  • In 2002, the first TV spectacle for commemorating the death of Dalida: Dalida, 15 ans déjà (Dalida, 15 years already) was specially created for the purpose of marking the 15th anniversary of her death. TF1 hosted dozens of singing legends like Sheila, and then teenage icons like Assia, Lââm, Liane Foly, Dany Brillant, Lorie, Lynda Lemay etc. Singing her songs in her tribute, they were accompanied by a extensive documentary film.[97]
  • In 2002, an interpretation of the song "Pour ne pas vivre seul", by Firmine Richard, was included in the movie 8 femmes, by François Ozon.[98]
  • In 2003, British singer and musician Patrick Wolf paid tribute to Dalida in the song "Paris" from his debut album Lycanthropy. The song reflects on the theme of the tragedy of suicide, and refers to Dalida's monument in Montmartre Cemetery, describing her as "the lady with the sun behind her head".[99]
  • In 2004, the song "Laissez-moi danser (Monday Tuesday)" was covered by Star Academy 4 in France, under the shorter name "Laissez-moi danser", in her honour.[100][101] Same year they covered Mourir sur scène.
  • In 2005, the first biopic of Dalida; two part telefilm Dalida film where Dalida was portraited by Sabrina Ferilli.[102] Its first broadcast on France 2 will reach 13 million viewers, scoring its best audience number since its inception, beating TF1 the same evening during the broadcast of a football match, still holding the record.[3]
  • In 2005, Lebanese singer Grace Deeb released a cover of the song "Helwa ya baladi", which charted #1 in Lebanon.[103]
  • In 2007, first of two big expo dedicated to Dalida; Dalida Expo was held in Paris City Hall Hôtel de Ville to commemorate 20th anniversary of her death with an exposition of her outfits, personal belongings, makeup, documents and previously unreleased photographs. In four months of its lining the exposition was visited by 300,000 people.[104]
  • In 2007, Spanish singer Luz Casal released the song "18 años", a new Spanish-language interpretation of "Tenía 18 años", the Spanish version of "Il venait d'avoir 18 ans", in honour of 20th anniversary of Dalida's death, with entirely new Spanish lyrics, on her album "Vida tóxica".[105]
  • In 2007, Italian singer Patty Pravo released the tribute album Spero che ti piaccia... Pour toi (I hope you like it... For you), all songs in it were originally sung by Dalida.[106]
  • In 2007, Lebanese singer Elissa (Arabic: إليسا) covered Dalida's song "Helwa ya baladi", which until then already became an Arabic classic.[107]
  • In 2007, Italian singer-songwriter Franco Battiato released the album Fleurs 2, containing the track "Il venait d'avoir 18 ans", a cover in hommage to the singer, performed with the participation of Persian vocalist Sepideh Raissadat (Persian: سپیده رئیس سادات).
  • In 2008, French singer Michèle Torr covered the song "Pour ne pas vivre seul", released on her album Ces années-là, in hommage to Dalida. A live version of her rendition was also released on her live DVD Olympia 2008, and a digital album of the same name, both released in 2009.[108]
  • In 2009, Lara Fabian again payed hommage to Dalida by releasing the tribute album Toutes les femmes en moi, containing an interpretation of the song "Il venait d'avoir 18 ans".[109]
  • In 2009, Luz Casal again honoured Dalida with cover of "Historia de un amor". The song is originally in Spanish, but Dalida covered it in French back in 1958 as Histoire d'un amour that became one of her signature tracks.[110]
  • In 2009, Arthanor Music released the tribute album Un clip de toi (Hommage à Dalida, 1988), containing four tracks originally recorded in 1988 by David Heissen and dedicated to Dalida.
  • In 2012, the TV spectacle Dalida, 25 ans déjà (Dalida, 25 years already) was specially created for the purpose of marking the 25th anniversary of her death. Five French TVs mostly talked about Dalida for a couple of months, especially on the dates of her birth and death. It hosted numerous old and new french singing stars and media personalities, singing her songs. A few documentaries were released.[111]
  • In 2012, French singer Amel Bent rendered hommage to Dalida by performing two of Dalida's signature songs "À Ma Manière" and "Mourir Sur Scène" on France 3's television program Chabada, regardless of TV spectacle Dalida, 25 ans déjà.
  • In 2016, the second biopic Dalida film had its prepremiere in Olympia, first time in history that the hall was used for a movie projection. The event was attended by 1996 elite personalities from public and political life. The beginning of event was transmitted live by TF1.[112]
  • In 2017, on January 17 (Dalida's birthday) Dalida film received its cinema release and on 17 May on DVD.[113]
  • In 2017, the second expo dedicated to Dalida; Dalida Expo was held in Palais Galliera to commemorate the 30th anniversary of her death.[114] In three months of its lining, the exposition was visited by 100,000 people, becoming a personal record for the gallery because of its limited capacity[115]
  • In 2017, for the third time, Luz Casal honours Dalida with a tribute album Luz Casal chante Dalida, A mi manera completely with songs of Dalida. Luz noted that Dalida is one of biggest lifeststyle and music influences during her life. On her concert tour Luz Casal chante Dalida she held a series of concerts in France from late 2017 to early 2018.[116]


  • Dalida, by Michel Delain, Éditions de l'Heure, 1962. (in French)
  • Dalida, La gloire et les larmes, by Pascal Sevran, 1976. (in French)
  • 25 ans de triomphe, by Christian Page, Delmas Éditeur, 1981. (in French)
  • Dalida, by Christian Page, Têtes D'affiche, 1982. (in French)
  • Dalida, mon amour, by Anne Gallimard and Orlando, Édition NRJ, 1984. ISBN 978-2-908070-01-9. (in French)
  • Lorsque l’amour s’en va, by Catherine Benoît Sévin, Michel Lafon, 1987; Carrere, 1989. ISBN 978-2-908070-01-9. (in French)
  • Dalida, mon amour, by Anne Gallimard and Orlando, Édition NRJ, 1989. ISBN 978-2-908070-01-9. (in French)
  • Dalida mon amour, by Orlando, Hachette Littérature, 1991. ISBN 978-2-7382-0362-5. (in French)
  • Dalida, Histoire d’une femme, by Jean-François Josselin and Jeff Barnel, Jean-Claude Lattès, 1994. ISBN 978-2-7096-1450-4. (in French)
  • Les larmes de la gloire, by Bernard Pascuito, Éditions Michel Lafon, 1997. ISBN 978-2-84098-301-9. (in French)
  • Dalida, by C. Daccache, Éditions Vade Retro, 1998. ISBN 2-909828-51-4 and ISBN 978-2-909828-51-0. (in French)
  • Dalida: Mon frère, tu écriras mes mémoires, by Catherine Rihoit, Plon, 1998. (in French)
  • Dalida, by Catherine Rihoit, Omnibus, 1998. ISBN 978-2-259-00083-3. (in French)
  • Star pour toujours, by Julie Thamin, Gep, 2000. (in French)
  • Dalida: Entre violon et amour, by Isaline, Éditions Publibook, 2002. ISBN 978-2-7483-2629-1. (in French)
  • Du Nil à la scène, Jacques Brachet, Éditions Va bene and Éditions de la courtine, 2001, 2002. ISBN 2-913483-36-4. (in French)
  • Dalida: Une oeuvre en soi, by Michel Rheault, Nota Bene, 2002. ISBN 2-89518-111-X. (in French)
  • Luigi Tenco. Vita breve e morte di un genio musicale, by Aldo Fegatelli Colonna, A. Mondadori, 2002. ISBN 88-04-50087-5 and ISBN 978-88-04-50087-2. (in Italian)
  • Ciao, ciao bambina, by Henri-Jean Servat and Orlando, Éditions Albin Michel, 2003. ISBN 978-2-226-14298-6. (in French)
  • Dalida, by Catherine Rihoit, Plon, re-published 2004. ISBN 978-2-259-20180-3. (in French)
  • D’une rive à l’autre, by David Lelait, Payot, 2004. ISBN 978-2-228-89904-8. (in French)
  • L’argus Dalida: Discographie mondiale et cotations, by Daniel Lesueur, Éditions Alternatives, 2004. ISBN 978-2-86227-428-7. (in French)
  • La véritable Dalida, by Emmanuel Bonini, Éditions Pygmalion, 2004. ISBN 2-85704-902-1 and ISBN 978-2-85704-902-9. (in French)
  • Mademoiselle succès, Barclay France, 2004. UPC 602498110843. (in French)
  • Dalida: La femme de cœur, by Jeff Barnel, Éditions du Rocher, 2005. ISBN 978-2-268-05500-8. (in French)
  • Dalida: La voce e l'anima, by Giandomenico Curi, 2005. ISBN 978-88-7641-687-3. (in Italian)
  • Top Dalida, Éditions Paul Beuscher, 2005. ASIN B000ZG64FO. (in French)
  • Dalida: La voce, Il suono, L'anima, by Mino Rossi, Edizioni Franciacorta, 2005. ISBN 978-88-89364-01-7. (in Italian)
  • Quasi sera: una storia di Tenco, by A. Montellanico, StampaAlternativa/NuoviEquilibri, 2005. ISBN 88-7226-910-5. (in Italian)
  • D’une rive à l’autre, by David Lelait-Helo, Éditions J'ai Lu, 2006. ISBN 978-2-290-34567-2. (in French)
  • Ntaainta Dalida, Éditions Odos Panos and 20 ans sans elle, 2006. (in French)
  • Dalida passionnément, by Arianne Ravier, Éditions Favre, 2006. ISBN 978-2-8289-0927-7. (in French)
  • Dalida, by Henry-Jean Servat and Orlando, Éditions Albin Michel, 2007. ISBN 978-2-226-15218-3. (in French)
  • Dalida, tu m'appelais petite sœur…, by Jacqueline Pitchal, Éditions Carpentier Didier, 2007. ISBN 978-2-84167-504-3. (in French)
  • Dalida: Une vie brûlée, by Bernard Pascuito, L'Archipel, 2007. ISBN 978-2-84167-504-3. (in French)
  • Dalida: Une vie..., by Jacques Pessis, Célina Jauregui, Emmanuel Polle and N-T Binh, Édition Chronique, 2007. 978-2-205-06006-5. (in French)
  • Dalida: Le temps d'aimer, Fabien Lecœuvre, Éditions City Editions, 2007. ISBN 978-2-35288-046-2. (in French)
  • Luigi Tenco: Ed ora avrei mille cose da fare, by R. Tortarolo and G. Carozzi, Arcana, 2007. ISBN 978-88-7966-431-8. (in Italian)
  • Dalida: Ses fans, ses amis ont la parole, by Claire Nérac and Cédric Naïmi, Éditions du Rocher, 2008. ISBN 978-2-268-06580-9. (in French)
  • Mia zia, ma tante Dalida, by Stéphane Julienne and Luigi Gigliotti, Éditions Ramsay, 2009. ISBN 978-2-8122-0011-3. (in French)
  • Dalida, le profil perdu, by Jean-Manuel Gabert, Éditions de la Belle Gabrielle, La légende de Montmartre collection, 2009. ISBN 978-2-917269-02-2. (in French)
  • Pour Dalida, by Colette Fellous, Flammarion ed., 2010. ISBN 978-2-08-069056-2. (in French)
  • Les grands interprètes, by Jacques Perciot, Frédéric Brun, Olympia Alberti, et Claude Frigara, Éditions Christian Pirot, 2010. ISBN 978-2-86808-274-9. (in French)
  • Rencontres avec une Étoile, by Jean-Claude Genel, Éditions Entre deux mondes, 2010. ISBN 978-2-919537-00-6. (in French)
  • La nuit de San Remo, by Philippe Brunel, Éditions Grasset, 2012. ISBN 978-2-246-75321-6. (in French)
  • Ciao amore. Tenco e Dalida, la notte di Sanremo, by Philippe Brunel, transl. by G. Vulpius, Rizzoli ed., 2012. ISBN 978-88-17-05518-5. (in Italian)
  • C'était en mai, un samedi, by David Lelait-Helo, Éditions Anne Carrière, 2012. ISBN 978-2-84337-663-4. (in French)
  • Internet websites: Hit-Parade France, Hit Parade Italia, Infodisc, Official Montmartre Tourist Information Authority, Dalida Official Website.


Most of her records were issued in France, then in Italy, Germany and Spain. Combining with other countries makes a total of 40 countries. In the 50s, she starts issuing only 25 cm albums and 45 maxi. In 1965, she changes size of her albums to 30 cm, and in late 1969, she completely stops issuing 45 maxi and replaces them with single.

Record formatsEdit

Diameter Revolutions per minute Duration
12 in (30 cm) 33 13 rpm LP (album)
10 in (25 cm)
7 in (17.5 cm) 45 rpm EP (45 maxi)
SP (single)


  • Le Masque de Toutankhamon (1954)
  • Sigarah wa kas (1954)
  • Brigade des moeurs (1958)
  • Rapt au deuxième bureau (1958)
  • Che femmina... e che dollari! (1961)
  • L'inconnue de Hong Kong (1963)
  • Menage all'italiana (1965)
  • La morale de l'histoire (1966)
  • Io ti amo (1968)
  • Dalida: Pour toujours (1977) (documentaly film)
  • Le sixième jour (1986)

See alsoEdit



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