Charles Aznavour is perhaps the best-known French music hall entertainer in the world — renowned the world over for the bittersweet love songs he has written and sung, which seem to embody the essence of French popular song, and also for his appearances on screen in such wildly divergent fare as Shoot the Piano Player, Candy, and The Tin Drum.
His status as the quintessential French popular culture icon is something of an irony for a man who identifies himself most closely with his Armenian heritage. Born Shahnour Varenagh Aznavourian, his French roots derive from the fact that his family fled the threat of massacre by the Turks — his father was a singer and sometime-restaurateur, while his mother was an actress and part-time seamstress. His father’s singing, done in a notably impassioned style, heavily influenced Aznavour’s approach to singing as a boy. During his career of 60 years he has sold over 100 million records.