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France Gall, Luxembourg's Eurovision 1965 winner, dies at 70

07 January 2018 at 13:04 CET
France Gall won the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxembourg in 1965. Photographer unknown
France Gall, who won the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest with 'Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son', passed away earlier today at 70.

According to media sources, Gall died of an infection, while suffering from cancer, in the American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.

The road to Eurovision

Isabelle Geneviève Marie Anne Gall was born on 9 October 1947 in Paris, France. Coming from a musical family, she had her first hit at age 16. In 1965 she was chosen to represent Luxembourg at the Eurovision Song Contest in Naples. The small country, land-locked between Belgium, France and Germany, often had to rely on 'talent from outside'. 

Out of ten songs Gall picked Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son, penned by the famous French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, who she would continue to work with throughout a significant part of her career.

Gall received points from 10 of the 18 participating countries. With 32 points, she won the contest a safe distance from the runner-up, the UK's Kathy Kirby, who only received 26 points. It brought Luxembourg its second victory in the contest.

Gall's victory, as well as the numerous translations of the song, brought her international fame in Europe and beyond. Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son is credited as being the first pop song to win the Eurovision Song Contest and had a significant impact on the musical style of songs that were entered into the contest in the years that followed.

A diverse entertainer

In her post-Eurovision career, Gall proved to be a diverse entertainer, showing her talent in films and musicals. In the 1980s she spent considerable effort supporting humanitarian causes.

France Gall retired from the music business in 1997. In 2001 her career was celebrated in a documentary on French television which attracted millions of viewers. Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son features in our Top Ten entries from Luxembourg:

Personal tragedy

In 1992, France Gall lost her husband, singer-songwriter Michel Berger, who suffered from a fatal heart attack during a tennis match. The following year she was diagnosed with breast cancer, from which she recovered from. 

Gall had two children, the youngest of which, Pauline, died of cystic fibrosis in 1997 at age 19. Her son Raphaël is pursuing a successful career in the music industry.


Reactions to Gall's death have been coming in from around the world. French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to her humanitarian work as well as her musical legacy:

Edoardo Grassi, Head of Delegation at the Eurovision Song Contest for France, reacted to France Gall's death on Twitter with "great sadness":

Dutch radio legend Erik de Zwart speaks of a "childhood hero who passed away":

On behalf of the entire Eurovision community we wish to extend our deepest condolences to France Gall's loved ones.