Obit of the Day: Céline Dion with a Lobotomy
Alys Robi was a dominating presence on the stage during the 1940s. The Québecois chanteuse began performing at the age of four. At sixteen she had her own radio show. She was known for her love affairs as much as for her voice. She first fell in love with the “father of Québec stand-up comedy,” Olivier Guimond, but she left him for Lucio Agostini, who gave her a better chance to advance professionally since Agostini conducted his own orchestra.
She and Agostini broke-up in 1948 and Robi spun out of control. She was sent to an insane asylum in 1952 where she was lobotomized against her will. (The “medical procedure” involved purposefully damaging the frontal lobe in hopes of creating a change in behavior. It was very popular method of treating mental illness for thirty years. Now widely discredited.) Robi stands out though as a patient who proclaimed the benefits of her lobotomy.
Her mental illness ruined her reputation in her industry though and she found herself parodying her vampish style at gay clubs in the 1970s. She wrote a memoir of her experience in the asylum, Un Long Cri dans Le Nuit (A Long Cry in the Night) and spent her later life working with post-psychiatric patients.
She was 88.
(Undated image of Robi, courtesy of wildworm.com)