In 1938, Halali toured Europe and his flamenco records in Arabic became successful in North Africa. Among his other successes are Al ain Zarga (The Blue Eyes), Mahenni zine (The beauty disturbed me), Habibti samra (My beloved has dark skin) and Allala illali. During the German occupation of France, Si Kaddour Benghabrit, the founder and first rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, managed to hide Salim's Jewish roots by providing him with a false birth certificate as a Muslim and etching the name of his late father on a tombstne at an unmarked grave in a Muslim cemetery Bobigny (Seine-Saint-Denis). Halali to perform at the Mosque's Moorish café alongside such artists as Ali Sriti and Ibrahim Salah. After the war, he renewed his successful performing career and earned the admiration of the Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum. In 1947, Halali created a Middle Eastern cabaret Folies Ismailia in a Paris hotel that belonged to Ferdinand de Lesseps located on the Avenue Montaigne in one of the city's best neighborhoods.
In 1948, he created a second cabaret club, The Serail, on the Rue du Colisée (fr). In 1949, he moved to Morocco, bought an old cafe in Maârif, the cosmopolitan quarter of Casablanca, and transformed it into a prestigious cabaret, Le Coq d'Or. It was frequented by wealthy Moroccans and visiting dignitaries, including King Farouk of Egypt. After the Coq d'Or was destroyed in a fire, Salim returned to France and lived in Cannes in the early 1960s.
In the late 1960s, he recorded a version of "My Yiddishe Momme", a 1925 American vaudeville hit, in Arabic. He expressed affection for the Muslim youth of the Parisian banlieues. When he performed in Jerusalem in the 1960s and said in Arabic from the stage "Long live the Arab nation", the audience threw things at him. He left the stage and never visited Israel again.
He made no secret of the fact that he was gay and lived openly with his partner Pierre at least as early as 1949. His career reached a turning point in when he released a long-playing record in French and performed at the Salle Pleyel in Paris early in 1970. He later gave additional concerts in Paris, Montreal, and Casablanca. Though still successful, Halali decided to retire to Cannes, where he was known for hosting lavish parties at his villa, which had Arabian nights decor like his cabarets, and a garden with two pet tigers. He continued to perform for private parties as late as 1992.
In 1993, having sold his Villa St Charles on St Charles Street in Cannes, he lived in complete anonymity in a retirement home in Vallauris, where his days followed the simple routine of a typical resident. Throughout his career, he was also recognized as a virtuoso darbuka player. His recordings have enjoyed renewed success with the revival of interest in the Judeo-Arabic musical repertoire since the last years of the 20th century. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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