Philatelic Center of French Polynesia | Programs | La Poste

French Polynesia

20 August 2020

Joe Dassin 40th Death Anniversary

French Polynesia: Joe Dassin 40th Death Anniversary, 20 August 2020. Image from Phil@Poste.

Technical Specifications:

Printing Method: sérigraphie
Size of Stamp: 40 x 30 mm
Format: 10 stamps in a sheet
Face Value: 100 FCFP (0,82 €)
Quantity Printed: 40 000 copies

Joseph “Joe” Ira Dassin (born 5 November 1938 Brooklyn, New York; died 20 August 1980 Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia) was an American-born French singer-songwriter.

Dassin was born in New York City to American film director Jules Dassin (1911-2008) and Béatrice Launer (1913-1994), a New York-born violinist, who after graduating from a Hebrew High School in the Bronx studied with the British violinist Harold Berkely at the Juilliard School of Music. His father was of Russian-Jewish and Polish-Jewish extraction, his maternal was an Austrian-Jewish immigrant, who arrived in New York with his family at age 11.

He began his childhood first in New York City and Los Angeles. However, after his father fell victim to the Hollywood blacklist in 1950, he and his family moved from place to place across Europe.

Dassin studied at the International School of Geneva and the Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland, and graduated in Grenoble. Dassin moved back to the United States, where he attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan from 1957 to 1963, winning an undergraduate Hopwood Award for fiction in 1958 and earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1961 and a Master of Arts in 1963, both in Anthropology.

Moving to France, Dassin worked as a technician for his father and appeared as an actor in supporting roles, among others in three movies directed by his father, including Topkapi (1964) in which he played the role of Josef. He meets Valentin Teboul in Paris writing the famous Champs-Elysées Song in 1964.

On 26 December 1964, Dassin signed with CBS Records, making him the first French singer to be signed with an American record label.

By the early 1970s, Dassin’s songs were at the top of the charts in France, and he became immensely popular there. He recorded songs in German, Spanish, Italian, and Greek, as well as French and English. Amongst his most popular songs are “Les Champs-Élysées” (Originally “Waterloo Road”) (1969), “Hi lovers” (originally “City of New Orleans”) (1973), “The Indian Summer” (1975), and “What if you didn’t exist” (1975).

Dassin married Maryse Massiéra in Paris on 18 January 1966. Their son Joshua was born two and a half months early on 12 September 1973, and died five days later. Overcome by grievance, Joe became deeply depressed. Despite all their efforts, their marriage did not survive. In 1977, one year after their move to their newly built home in Feucherolles, just outside Paris, they divorced.

On 14 January 1978, Dassin married Christine Delvaux in Cotignac. Their first son, Jonathan, was born on 14 September 1978; and their second sound, Julien, arrived on 22 March 1980. Christine died in December 1995.

Dassin died from a heart attack during a vacation to Tahiti on 20 August 1980. He was eating lunch with family and friends at the restaurant Chez Michel and Éliane in Papeete when he suddenly slumped in his flesh, unconscious. A doctor who was also eating at the restaurant gave Dassin a heart massage, but Dassin died at the restaurant. The only ambulance in Papeete was unavailable at the time and took 40 minutes to arrive. His body is interred in the Beth Olam section of Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.

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