The nights will never have been darker, take out the packets of blotting paper: Régine has passed away.
Aged 92, the Queen of the Night, a flamboyant personality by day too, left us just two years after the death of her younger brother, Maurice Bidermann. The clothes of light, the jewels and the boa will remain in the closet, but the tributes of the orphans of this great lady of heart will not fail to rain.
We certainly never knew who Zoa was, but Régine, we knew her well. And for good reason: boss of anthology clubs, singer, friend of the stars and star surrounded by friends, businesswoman, actress, reality TV candidate, the native of Anderlecht, Parisian and Tropézienne by adoption and godmother of the world’s jet set has been a must for more than six decades, since the opening in 1956 of its very first nightclub, Chez Régine, in the heart of the bustling district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. They are few, those who have made a first name without needing a name, and already theirs – that of a born queen: “regina”, in Latin – is then at the top of the poster – to paraphrase a tube by Charles Aznavour, who will write to him a few years after the mischievous song Nounours (1965).
Born on December 26, 1929 in Anderlecht, Belgium, to Polish Jewish parents who had returned from Argentina, Régine Zylberberg met Paris at the age of 3, but, after their mother returned to Latin America, various pensions punctuated her childhood and that of his brother Maurice. During the Second World War, it was in the South, where she would return later (the Nîmes years…), that her gift for singing and partying was revealed while her father, an inveterate player, frothed entire nights the casino of Aix-en-Provence. Then, the war having ended, he entrusted her with the management of the café he opened in Paris and she fell in love with the sounds and dances of the moment, straight from across the Atlantic. Her frequentation of the Côte d’Azur, where she officiated for a time as a saleswoman, her stars on the go and her clubs where it is good to be seen, in the early 1950s, will complete her profile as queen of the party: in 1956 was born rue du Four in Paris Chez Régine, the first of the many highly prized clubs that the one who was immediately nicknamed “The Queen of the Night” would lead around the world (from Nîmes, and her excessive parties at the Cheval Blanc Régine’s Hotel scenographed by Starck and Wimotte, in… New York, Miami, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur…), times and fashions. Until the mid-2000s, when, at the age of 70, the icon of jet-set nights ceased its activities. Which did not prevent him, in 2009, from savoring a sort of jubilee in his club on rue de Ponthieu, a stone’s throw from the Champs-Elysées, for the release of a perfume and the promotion of an album of duets. tasty, Regine’s Duets.
Because, no more than the spirit of the party, the love of singing born in childhood and consecrated in 1967 by the Charles-Cros Academy has never left her, leading her to the most prestigious stages, from the Olympia at Carnegie Hall, until a final tour in 2016, and the guests of that evening could no doubt testify to this even today. For her Duets, 54 years after Aznavour’s Nounours, Henri Salvador’s Forget Me and Gainsbourg’s Les P’tits papiers, Régine offered in particular a gentle crumpling of crumpled voices with Jane Birkin to resume The Little Papers of Serge, a peak of suave naughtiness with Edouard Baer (Open your mouth, close your eyes), cheeky and sulfurous jewels with Bernard Lavilliers (L’Emmerdeuse) and Arthur H (Capone and his little Phyllis), festive caviars with Didier Wampas (La Grande Zoa) and Cali (J’viens danser), and, unmissable, a revisited I Will Survive with Julia Migenes.
“We can dream, daydream about what we would have liked to be“, sang Régine in Gueule de nuit, written by Barbara. She, she will have been a lot. Including actress, between Jean-Louis Trintignant and Romy Schneider in The train (1973) by Pierre Granier-Deferre, facing the Ripoux (1984) Philippe Noiret and Thierry Lhermitte for Claude Zidi… The youngest were even able to discover her on the small screen in 2005 in the reality TV game La Ferme Celebrities, in which she took part for the benefit of the association SOS Drogue International , which she had founded 20 years earlier. We could even have known her in 2006 as a theater actress, if a heart attack had not made her participation in a play by Laurent Ruquier impossible.
Régine was the mother of a son, the great journalist emeritus Lionel Rotcage, from her first marriage. Carried away in 2006 at the age of 58 by lung cancer, she dedicated the book To you Lionel, my son (Flammarion) to him in 2010. She had married in second marriage in 1969 Roger Choukroun, with for witness one of her friends of the first hour, known as the white wolf Chez Régine, Françoise Sagan.
“Don’t look for mystery, I don’t have one. I have a good character, but don’t, Don’t push grandma with a misstep, ah“, sang Régine again according to the words of Barbara. A very Parisian banter, a very southern sun, an energy of feria and the aura of a planetary star: the Queen is dead, but as long as she is loved, she will survive. “We can dream, daydream about what we would have liked to be, to be, but it’s done, it’s classified. it’s not so bad perhaps, to be here at the end of the day, face of love, it’s almost night, face of night. In a dress of light, I’ll be on my business, come“. And a whiskey for his boa.