War - occupation
Edith and Meurisse, although still together, were no longer the lovers they once were. The film Montmartre-sur-Seine was offered to them in 1941 and it was probably this alone that kept them together a few more months. Edith threw herself into learning her lines for her leading role and writing the lyrics for the music provided by Marguerite Monnot.
Michel Emer, a young Jewish man, arrived at her door one Spring evening in 1940. She was rehearsing for her new season at the Bobino at the time - the last thing she wanted was to be bothered by a struggling composer pestering to be heard ! His insistence, however, paid off and Edith eventually found herself listening to an inspirational piece of music - L'Accordéoniste. Unfortunately, Edith had to part with her new-found friend; she paid his way into the unoccupied zone of France in order to "wait out" the war. He was unable to return until after the Liberation.
"Le Bel Indifferent", Cocteau's play written for and starring Edith, opened at the Bouffes Parisians in the Spring of 1940. Her first performance in support of the war effort was on the 9th May 1940 at the Bobino for the Red Cross in the company of other stars such as Maurice Chevalier and Johnny Hess. By the time "Le Bel Indifferent" had closed Meurisse had been called up and then rejected on medical grounds, Edith discovered that Mômone's husband had been killed fighting so moved her back to their apartment, and German troops were advancing towards France through Belgium. Edith left Paris for Toulouse for a tour of the unoccupied areas with Meurisse.
German occupied Paris was a very different place to Edith's previous home. All artists were forced to register at the Propagandastaffel and have their songs vetted in order to be able to work. Edith fared better than most - she may have hated them but they liked her, and her use of Parisian argot enabled her to voice her opinions without reprisal. She was in great demand not only to perform benefit concerts for prisoners of war but also for the Germans themselves. Her association with the French Resistance is now well known and many owed their lives to her as a result.
Professionally, the period 1940 - 1945 was a very successful one for Edith; privately however it was one containing many changes...
war - changes...
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