Roger once dreamed of becoming a singer, but his father Arcade disapproved, inspiring him to have one of his children learn to sing with him in church.
Mireille included his operatic voice on her 1968 Christmas album, where it was mixed in with the Minuit Chrétiens song. Mireille’s first paid performance before an audience, at age four, was rewarded with a lollipop when she sang on Christmas Eve 1950 during Midnight Mass. A defining moment was seeing Édith Piaf sing on television.
Mireille performed poorly in elementary school because of dyslexia, requiring an extra year to graduate. Born left-handed, her teachers used a ruler to strike her hand each time she was caught writing with it.
She became right-handed, although her left hand remains quite animated while singing. She has a fantastic memory, and never uses a prompter on stage.
Abandoning higher education, at age 14 (1960), she began work in a local factory in Montfavet (a suburb southeast of town) where she helped with the family income and paid for her singing lessons. Popular at work, she often sang songs at lunch, or while working.
Like her parents, she is a short woman at 1.52 m (5 feet) in height. Her sister Monique (French: [mo.nik?]), born on 8 July 1947, began work at the same factory a few months later, both given bicycles on credit to commute with, making for very long days, and many bad memories of riding against the Mistral winds.
The factory went out of business, so Mireille and her two oldest sisters (Monique, and Christiane) became youth counselors at a summer camp before her rise to fame, a summer where she had her fortune told by Tarot cards by an old Gypsy woman, saying she would soon mingle with Kings and Queens.
Mireille is Roman Catholic, and her adopted patron saint is Saint Rita, the Saint for the Impossible. Mireille’s paternal grandmother Germaine née Charreton, assured her that Saint Rita was the one to pray to for hopeless cases.
Beyond religion, like many artists, she is unabashed about superstition and luck. When asked to reveal some of her superstitions, she said: “The most important one is to never mention any of them.” She has stage fright, and can often be seen making the sign of the cross before moving out on stage.
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