Caterina Valente

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Caterina Valente, photo by Ron Kroon (1966)

Caterina Germaine Maria Valente (born January 14, 1931 in Paris ) is an Italian singer , dancer , guitarist , actress and entertainer . Since her first marriage was to a German artist, Valente was also a German citizen. Today she is a French national. Her musical repertoire includes jazz , hits , pop , musicals , chansons and bossa nova. She became known mainly through her singing, but she is also mentioned as a guitarist and tap dancer .

Caterina Valente has lived in Lugano , Switzerland for decades .


Her father Giuseppe Valente (1891–1957) was an accordion player ; the mother Maria Valente (1897-1977) appeared as a music clown . Caterina Valente has three siblings, of whom Silvio Francesco (1927-2000) also worked in show business. She was married twice: her first marriage (1952–1971) to the juggler Gerd Scholz (stage name Erik van Aro ) came from the singer Eric van Aro (* 1958). In 1972 Valente married the English composer, arranger and pianist Roy Budd - from this marriage came Alexander Budd (* 1974). The couple divorced in 1979.

Musical career

Valente first stood in the circus ring with her siblings when she was five years old. She had her first stage appearance in 1936 in the Friedrichsbau Stuttgart. After the turmoil of the war, imprisonment in Wroclaw and deportation to Russia , the Valente family returned to Paris, where Caterina first appeared as a sixteen-year-old singer in a nightclub.

After attempts in France with the then unknown Gilbert Bécaud and a tour through Scandinavia, she made her first vocal recordings with a quartet in Copenhagen in 1948. The first official vocal recordings were made by Radio Zurich in 1952 after the head of entertainment at Radio Zurich , Walo Linder , had heard them sing at the Grock circus . These recordings went to all German radio stations, and from them some studio productions were made on various radio stations, including the Südwestfunk Baden-Baden, where they were heard and promoted by the then dance orchestra director Kurt Edelhagen . She married the juggler Erik van Aro in 1952 and parted ways with her mother Maria Valente, the most famous clown of her time.

Label of the single The Breeze and I , British pressing (around 1955)

The first recordings with Kurt Edelhagen followed in 1953. She went on tour with him to the Salon du Jazz in Paris. Their joint appearance at the 2nd German Jazz Festival in Frankfurt am Main in 1955 was a great success. Her first record was Istanbul on the Brunswick label. Soon afterwards, she was popularized by recordings with the Werner Müller orchestra such as Malagueña (1954), The Breeze and I (1955) by the Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona (14 weeks in the US charts) and Do not turn around for strange shadows to a wide audience known. In addition, she continued to work in jazz. In 1956 she performed with Chet Baker and recorded the singles I'll Remember April and Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye with him. Her first music albums were released at the same time, including The Hi-Fi Nightingale (1956) and Plenty Valente! (1957).

Valente (1966)

In Germany, the title All Paris dreams of love (1954) sold over 900,000 times, an extraordinarily high turnover in the German record industry at the time. Other well-known songs were Fiesta Cubana (1955), Come with me to Italy (1956), Where my sun shines (1957), Play once more for me, Habanero (1958) and Tschau, Tschau, Bambina (1959). In 1959 she was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Singer, and in 1965 she became the first non-American to receive the TV Critics' Fame Award for Best Singer on US Television, presented by Sammy Davis, Jr.

At that time, Valente was pursuing a number of other projects in addition to her solo career, almost all of which had the German longing of the 1950s for foreign worlds in their name: Club Indonesia (1st place in 1956 with the song Steig in das Traumboot der Liebe ), Club Honolulu (place 1 1960 with Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Honolulu Beach Bikini ), Club Italia , Club Argentina and a few more.

In the winter of 1978/79 Valente had another hit with the hit Manuel , with which she appeared twice in the ZDF hit parade . Another hit was in 1984 Men Need Love ; it came in second.

In 1987 the album Ich bin ... was released with the single hit I'm still there .

The jazz CD A briglia sciolta recorded in Italy in 1989 (later re-released under the titles Fantastica and Platinum Deluxe ) is still Valentes’s best-selling CD today.

On the occasion of the 57th "Bambi" award, Caterina Valente made her last public appearance in front of an audience of millions on December 1, 2005 in Munich. At the gala event she received the honorary “Bambi” for her life's work. Since then, she has withdrawn from the public eye.

After 13 years, Caterina Valente published an interview again in 2019. In it she summed up: "I've done everything I wanted to do, some better, some worse - like everyone, I think."

Success in film, television and shows

Valente in the music film: “ … and in the evening in the Scala ” (1958)
film poster by Helmuth Ellgaard .
Caterina Valente and the Kessler Twins in the Caterina Valente Show (1967)

After her first musical successes, Valente shot her first movie with mannequins for Rio in 1954 . In the same year she had a cameo in the hit film Great Star Parade , where she sang a title. Another eleven films followed. In 1957 Valente received her own television show ( Bonsoir, Kathrin! ) On German television , of which ten episodes were produced by 1964. Further Caterina Valente shows were made in Italy, Austria and Switzerland: Nata per la Musica , Bentornata Caterina , Caterina (8 episodes), Music Circus (6 episodes), but also on German television in the 1970s and 1980s did many so-called personality shows with her: A life full of music , music is my life , among friends .

There were also many appearances in shows by Hans Rosenthal and Peter Frankenfeld . In the third programs there were a smile at the foot of the ladder , On the Street of Remembrance and Rendezvous at Caterina .

Valente had many appearances all over the world, including 15 tours in the USA, was seven times in the Olympia in Paris, appeared in the London Palladium and several times in the Talk of the Town , and further tours took her to South America, Japan, Australia and South Africa ; even at the time of the Iron Curtain , she even performed in the USSR.

A highlight was the TV show Bravo, Catrin! In 1986 with almost 17 million viewers on ARD . with many friends on her 50th stage anniversary. In the USA she was a star guest in more than 100 television shows, including the Dean Martin Show , the Perry Como Show , the Danny Kaye Show , Hollywood Palace , the Bing Crosby Show and the musical star of the television series The Entertainers with Carol Burnett and Bob Newhart .

Presence and diversity

Caterina Valente at the premiere of "Variete, Variete" in East Berlin's Friedrichstadt-Palast (1984)

In 1990 Valente appeared as a jazz singer at concerts with the WDR Big Band in the Cologne Philharmonic . A recording entitled Kurt Weill - American Songs was released on CD a few years later. She mastered the scat technique typical of vocal jazz , in which the phrasing and the sound of various instruments are imitated by means of her voice .

In March 2002, Caterina Valente received the Echo Prize for her life's work from the hands of the former Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg Lothar Späth , who gave her a teaching position at the University of Performing Arts (Show Academy) planned during his reign - first in Stuttgart, then in Mannheim wanted to provide what Späth's successor Erwin Teufel prevented in 1991.

While Valente mainly recorded and published hits in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the rest of Europe, she can generally be regarded as an interpreter of world music with a focus on South America. She brought the first bossa nova songs to Europe as early as 1959 and from then on sang songs in this rhythm in all of her programs. Her CD & DVD Live 1968 shows her at the height of her art. Valente is a citizen of the world in the true sense of the word , polyglot , and has recorded songs in nine languages. She speaks six languages ​​fluently (French, Italian, Swedish, German, English and Spanish).

Today, Caterina Valente lives in seclusion in Lugano (Switzerland).


movie theater

watch TV

own programs (selection)

  • 1957–1964: Bonsoir, Kathrin! (10 episodes, ARD)
  • 1961: Bonsoir Catherine (6 episodes, RAI)
  • 1962: Nata per la musica (9 episodes, RAI)
  • 1964 & 1965: The Entertainers (with Carol Burnett and Bob Newhart , CBS)
  • 1966–1968: The Caterina Valente Show (8 episodes, ZDF / AVRO)
  • 1969: Bentornata Caterina (3 episodes, RAI)
  • 1971: The Mike Douglas Show (co-moderation, several episodes)
  • 1973: A smile at the foot of the ladder (5 episodes, SDR)
  • 1976: Rendezvous with Caterina Valente (13 episodes, SDR)
  • 1980 & 1981: Music Circus (7 episodes, SRG)
  • 1982 & 1983: Caterina (8 episodes, ORF)

Guest appearances (selection)

  • The Bing Crosby Show (several guest appearances)
  • The Danny Kaye Show (several guest appearances)
  • The Perry Como Show (several guest appearances)
  • The Dean Martin Show (several guest appearances)
  • 1968: Uit met Jan Theys
  • 1975: Tittertime
  • 1981: The guest performance (TV film)
  • 1990: Hotel Paradies (TV series)
  • 1992: The Angel of Innocence

Documentation (selection)

  • Legends: Caterina Valente. Documentation, Germany 2011. SWR / ARD
  • Kulenkampff's shoes . Documentation, Germany 2018, 92 minutes, script and direction: Regina Schilling. Created on behalf of the SWR.



  • Music / Valente. Voice like an instrument . In: Der Spiegel . No. 15 , 1955, pp. 39-45 ( online ).
  • Caterina Valente: Bonjour, Katrin! Sing, dance, live… Gustav Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1985, ISBN 3-404-61143-8 .
  • Dieter Bartetzko : Where my sun shines. Caterina Valente - an economic miracle. Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-423-24134-9 .
  • Michael Petzel, Manfred Hobsch: Caterina Valente: "You are music". Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-89602-344-6 .
  • Hermann Vilser, Ingrid Grünwald: Caterina Valente discography 1954–2000. Hannibal, Höfen 2001, ISBN 3-85445-187-3 .

Web links

Commons : Caterina Valente  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Official biography ( Memento of December 12, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), PDF (accessed on July 1, 2018)
  2. Trivia . In: CATERINA VALENTE® OFFICIAL WEB SITE . June 5, 2015 ( [accessed July 13, 2018]).
  4. Welt from January 14, 2021, Feulleton
  6. World star celebrates 90th birthday without hype in Ticino - The secret life of Caterina Valente In: Blick online from January 10, 2020
  7. ^ Photograph of the tombstone / obituary. In: Retrieved September 19, 2018 .
  8. Caterina Valente. Time of maturity . In: Der Spiegel . No. 31 , 1964, pp. 73 ( online ).
  9. a b
  10. Happy Birthday, Caterina Valente In: Schlager Planet from January 14, 2019
  11. ^ Hermann Vilser, Ingrid Grünwald: Caterina Valente Discography 1954–2000 . Hannibal, Höfen 2001, ISBN 3-85445-187-3 , list of languages ​​on page 6.