Charles Aznavour is perhaps the best-known French music hall entertainer in the world -- renowned the world over for the bittersweet love songs he has written and sung, which seem to embody the essence of French popular song, and also for his appearances on screen in such wildly divergent fare as Shoot the Piano Player, Candy, and The Tin Drum. His status as the quintessential French popular culture icon is something of an irony for a man who identifies himself most closely with his Armenian heritage. Born Shahnour Varenagh Aznavourian, his French roots derive from the fact that his family fled the threat of massacre by the Turks -- his father was a singer and sometime-restauranteur, while his mother was an actress and part-time seamstress. His father's singing, done in a notably impassioned style, heavily influenced Aznavour's approach to singing as a boy. Although he had a voracious appetite for music, he also had a serious impediment growing up, in the form of a paralyzed vocal cord that gave his voice a raspy quality. He channeled some of his energy into theater, making both his stage and screen debuts at age nine, in 1933, in the theater piece Un Bon Petite Diable and in the film La Guerre des Gosses. As an adolescent, he danced in nightclubs and sold newspapers, as well as touring with theatrical companies, and he wrote a nightclub act in partnership with Pierre Roche -- Aznavour wrote the lyrics to their songs and it was through that material that he began his singing career. Early on, he learned to overcome his fears about his vocal limitations, in part with help from singing legend Edith Piaf, for whom he worked as a chauffeur, among other capacities; with her help, he developed a style that suited his capabilities and played to his strengths and also continued writing songs in earnest, some of which were performed by Piaf.