The Founders

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Joseph and Louis Clérico

In 1946, the two brothers of Italian origin, who were construction entrepreneurs, decided it was time for a career change and bought the Lido from Léon Volterra, on 78 Avenue des Champs Élysées.

They became devoted to their adventure... In order to provide the Lido with the means to become even more magical, they called upon the services of the impresario Pierre-Louis Guérin. This showman, well known for his rich imagination, was given free rein to transform the Lido.

From that point onwards, the Lido was turned into a haven of luxury which attracted people from all over the city with its new concept: the dinner show, which proved to be a huge success and which, very quickly, was copied around the world.

The very first show was held on June 20th 1946 and boasted the rather sober title “sans rimes ni raisons” (without rhyme or reason).

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René Fraday

After four years spent putting together shows in the United States, this former Mistinguett Boy responded to Pierre-Louis Guérin’s calls and, in 1947, he became the Lido’s artistic director.
 
Passionate about all that was extraordinary, he travelled the world looking for exceptional attractions and moved heaven and earth in order to bring them to Paris.

He treated the Lido to many incredible shows which involved ice-skating rinks, swimming pools, water jets and even other crazy ideas such as helicopters flying around the room.

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Pierre Louis Guérin

Fascinated by the world of show business, Pierre-Louis Guérin abandoned his studies in medicine to devote himself unreservedly to the world of sequins and pearls and night owls.

He opened his first cabaret “Le Club”on Rue de Charenton, where he welcomed many talented artists, such as Bourvil and Line Renaud.

Later, he joined the Clérico brothers at the Lido, bringing his personal creative spirit to this unique and magical venue.

Miss Bluebell

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MISS BLUEBELL

The beautiful Irish woman, Margaret Kelly, who was better known as Miss Bluebell because of her hyacinth blue eyes, was born on the 24th of June 1910 and became the creator of the Bluebell Girls.

In the 1930's, she lived in Germany before moving to France, where she started as a dancer at the Folies Bergère. At the age of just 22 years, she created her own company, with which she joined the Lido in 1948. It was here that the talent of these creatures with the impossibly long legs and legendary elegance dazzled the Parisian stage.

Today still, the Bluebell Girls are emblematic of the magic of the Lido’s variety shows.


An Emblematic Venue




THE ORIGINS


The very first Lido dates back to 1928. An artificial beach was created in the basement of Monsieur Dufayel’s former townhouse. This was demolished and replaced by a shopping gallery called the “Arcades” at 78 Avenue des Champs-Elysées. The basement level became the “Lido, Paris beach”, the name given to it by a certain Monsieur Chaux. People went there for refreshments and children had fun in the 33m by 9m pool. But, it was once the theatres shut their doors for the night, at around midnight, that the establishment really came to life: casino, musical shows in the water, gondolas the same as in Venice, and more.
However, in 1933, the number of visitors declined and the venue was declared bankrupt.

In 1936, the legendary Léon Volterra came to the rescue and transformed the building from top to bottom. Gone were the pool and its beach, replaced by a temple, columns and shows ! 

FROM 1946 TO THE PRESENT DAY


After the War, Léon Volterra sold the lease for the Lido to two brothers : Joseph and Louis Clérico.
They immediately undertook major works and turned it into a temple for large-scale variety shows. On the 20th of June 1946, the stage glittered with the soon to become legendary beauty of the dancers, the radiant costumes and the elegant attractions. The cabaret was catapulted to the pinnacle of the world.   

Recognised everywhere, always greeted with great fervour, the Lido’s variety shows were praised to the skies by critics. Some even went so far as to proclaim that “foreigners and French people visiting Paris firstly visited the Eiffel Tower and the Lido, where they were guaranteed to enjoy a prestigious show which was unique in the world”. The Lido became a legend.

A living legend which constantly reinvented itself. In 1977, the Lido took over the Normandie at 116 Avenue des Champs Élysées. Magnificently designed and decorated by the architects Peynet, Bartoccini and Veccia, the venue became the largest and most luxurious cabaret in Europe and even in the world.

At the Lido, the heady atmosphere among the spectators was all about feats: Human feats as well as technological feats. When the floor lowered and turned into the dance floor for a show, a thousand spectators found themselves transported. And, when, in turn, the ice-skating rink, the swimming pool and the incredible water screens appeared, the Lido ignited to the deepest darkest depths of its furthest alcoves. A range of machinery, prodigiously skilled technicians and talented artists turned the Lido into the most sensational show venue. 

The former shows