The French career of Petula Clark doesn’t start until the end of the 50’s, though she is already a recognized artist outside the country. It’s in London that she records in French, titles arranged by the excellent Peter Knight, and success isn’t far behind. Marin, Romeo, Ya Ya twist and above all Chariot propel the young Petula to favorite European artist of the French. Her success touched all French speaking nations, Belgium, Switzerland, North Africa, Lebanon, and Canada.
It’s the day after her first appearance in France that Petula falls for Claude Wolff, the press assistant for the French label, Vogue. They marry at Bourg-la-Reine several months later and Petula, having become French, moves to Paris. Petula et Claude become the happy parents of Barbara, born in London in 1961, of Catherine, born in Paris in 1963, and of Patrick, born in Geneva in 1972, where they have had a house since the end of the 60’s.
Her worldwide career takes off with the arrival of Tony Hatch as artistic director in her professional life. The aforementioned gives her several of her biggest successes like My Love (number 1 in the USA), Don’t Sleep in the Subway, I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love, and of course the unforgettable Downtown (also number 1 in the United States), which remains to this day her most popular title.
Along with Englishman Tony Hatch, the legendary Charles Chaplin offers her This Is My Song, (C’est ma chanson, in French, with words by Pierre Delanoë) theme song of his film The Countess of Hong Kong. Other great francophone stars like Serge Gainsbourg (La Gadoue, Les Incorruptibles, Ô ô Sheriff…), Jacques Brel (Un enfant), Claude-Michel Schönberg ( ), Luc Plamondon (Mister Orwell), mix with the career of Petula Clark as the years pass.
Both singer and consecrated actress, it’s totally natural that Petula Clark would be led to musical comedies. Hollywood reclaims her to star next to Fred Astaire in Francis Ford Coppola’s Finian’s Rainbow in 1968 and Goodbye Mister Chips, a musical remake of a Sam Wood film with Peter O’Toole, directed by Herbert Ross in 1969.
But, it’s on the stage that she pursues her love affair with musical comedies. At the beginning of the 80’s, she’s the star of The Sound of Music at the Apollo Theater in London. The success is so great that the show plays for two years. During the 90’s, Petula comes back to musicals with Blood Brothers, a show created at the Music Box Theater on Broadway. The show plays 18 months, and is also a huge success on the American tour that followed. She follows up taking on the roll of Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard at the Adelphi Theater in London, before wrapping up another triumphant tour in the United States. Besides the Grand Prix du Disque for the album Chariot and 2 Grammy Awards, respectively for Downtown and I Know A Place, Petula has been honored with numerous distinctions over the years. Among the most prestigious is the Médaille de Vermeil from the city of Paris, the title of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, that of Citizen of Honor of several cities in the United States, and more recently, that of Commander of the British Empire.