From my upcoming review in The American Conservative:
Why is the "struggle with inner demons" such a staple of movies about musicians and actors?
Part of the reason is selection bias: producers aren't dying to make "The Johann Sebastian Bach Story" because composing a new masterpiece for Sunday church services each week while raising 20 children didn't leave Bach much time for self-inflicted drama.
Nonetheless, on average, performers really do live more chaotic lives than the rest of us. The detective novelist and screenwriter Raymond Chandler explained in The Little Sister, his novel about a troubled actress: "If these people didn't live intense and rather disordered lives, if their emotions didn't ride them too hard -- well, they wouldn't be able to catch those emotions in flight and imprint them on a few feet of celluloid ..."
Nobody lived a more intense and disordered life than Edith Piaf (1915-1963), the Parisian chanteuse depicted in the melodramatic and moving French film "La Vie en Rose." While her contemporary Judy Garland became an icon to male homosexuals (the gay liberation movement began in 1969 when drag queens returning from Garland's funeral rioted at New York's Stonewall bar), Piaf was a national heroine, as French as Johnny Cash was American.