Régine Zylberberg, singer and nightclub entrepreneur known as “Queen of the Night” – obituary
Régine Zylberberg was born in Anderlecht, Belgium on December 26, 1929. According to some accounts, she was originally named Rachelle and was one of three children; his brother
Maurice would later make a fortune in the clothing and textile industry.
Their parents were Polish and Jewish, but their father was an alcoholic gambler. After losing the family bakery in a poker game, the family moved to Paris, but soon after their mother abandoned the house and moved to Argentina.
Régine’s solitary upbringing figured prominently in her recollections, with one analysis being that her nightclub parties made up for “the birthdays she never had as a child”.
When war broke out, she was hidden from the Germans in a convent and a retirement home in Lyon. There she fell in love with the nephew of the town’s chief rabbi, but he and his family later perished in the camps.
With the Liberation comes the discovery of American popular music. Her father opened a cafe in Belleville, where she worked for a time, while selling bras from a stall. Married and divorced before the age of 20, the decisive moment for Régine came when she found a summer job in a hat shop in Juan-les-Pins.
The French Riviera was starting to heat up, fame was starting to become the most modern of conveniences, and when Régine saw all eyes turn to Aly Khan and his wife Rita Hayworth, she decided she wanted to be a part of this world.
For many years, she also maintained a career as a torch singer, known to the French public in particular for Les p’tits papiers (1965), a song written for her by Serge Gainsbourg. She was later associated with her cover version of Gloria Gaynor’s disco anthem, I Will Survive, and appearances in recent years on reality TV shows. She also had small roles in several films.
Régine practiced martial arts, fasted for a week before opening a new club and kept three mediums in her books to cleanse her aura of the residue left by the thoughts of those she was to meet and greet.
Her main regret is her difficult relationship with her only child, Lionel, born from her brief first marriage in 1945 to Paul Rotcage.
Her son became a journalist and married Telsche Boorman, daughter of British director John Boorman, but died of cancer in 2006.
Régine was married for the second time, from 1969 until their divorce in 2004, to Roger Choukroun, a computer engineer. She is survived by a granddaughter.
Régine Zylberberg, born December 26, 1929, died May 1, 2022