Muriel Millard, singer, actress, dancer, songwriter, painter (born 3 December 1922 in Montréal, QC; died 30 November 2014 in Montréal). Known as “Miss Music-Hall,” Muriel Millard was a famous Québécois cabaret singer who became a radio and television star before embarking on a successful second career as a painter. She was perhaps best known for her 1961 song “Dans nos vieilles maisons,” which became an annual New Year’s Eve song in Québec and has been covered by many performers, including René Simard, Aglaé and La Bottine souriante. It was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007.
Early Years and Career
While still a teenager, Millard won the “Catelli Young Talent” competition on the Montréal radio station CKAC in 1938. Her success with the French song “Y a pas de cerises en Alaska,” in 1942, brought her wide fame. She toured in Québec with the impresario Jean Grimaldi's troupe, imitating other French female singers, such as Josephine Baker, Lucienne Boyer, Mireille, and Mistinguett. Between 1943 and 1945, she performed at the Old Europe nightclub in New York. In 1945, she made her debut at the Théâtre national in Montréal, and the following year she performed on CKAC in Le Gala humoristique et musical à la salle paroissiale. Due to her great popularity on the air, she was elected "queen of radio" in 1950 by the Montréal weekly Radiomonde.
Performance Career 1950-70
In 1952, Millard toured in New England and Québec and performed for the armed forces in Korea and Japan. During these years she often appeared in clubs in Québec and as far afield as Florida. On CBC Television, she was heard in Feux de joie, Music-Hall, Porte ouverte, and Miss Music-Hall, the latter the name by which she came to be known best. She appeared in variety shows, performing in Montréal at Place des Arts and the Forum. Her 1966 performance at the Comédie Canadienne, entitled Gai Gai la belle province, included the premiere of a Canadian ballet based on the Gilles Vigneault song “Jack Monnoloy” and was repeated at the Palais Montcalm in Québec City. Also in 1966, she played in the French musical comedy La Quincaillère de Chicago by Louiguy, at the St-Denis Theatre in Montréal. Other productions in which Millard starred include Vive la Canadienne at Expo 67, Terre des femmes at the Comédie-Canadienne and at the Latin Quarter in New York (1967), and Avec la femme at Man and His World in 1968.
Songwriting and Later Career
After 1960, Millard wrote most of her own songs, including “Hymne du Québec,” written for a Télé-Métropole competition in 1965 and later used as the CKAC Radio theme. She began to concentrate on painting in 1969 but returned briefly to the nightclub circuit in 1970 and made rare appearances on television variety shows. In 1975, she made an LP entitled Faut que jeunesse se passe (Totem 9209) and recorded a number of other LPs under the Trans-Canada record label.
A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.