My Auntie Zoya
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Groomed for the stage since childhood, Zoya Frank-Paradowski exceeded her mother's expectations. Her raw talent coupled with her beauty lead her to success in ballet, theater, film, and opera under her stage name, Zoya Valevska. Having escaped the new Soviet, post-Russian Revolution, regime, and subsequently blacklisted by the Communists, she flourished in European film and opera. Twice married to wealthy men, although wealthy in her own right, Zoya joined the rich and famous while jet-setting about Europe. Her film career skyrocketed until the booming German movie industry came to a grinding halt when Hitler began to expand his Third Reich. She fled to Great Britain, as her second husband was a citizen of Great Britain, and she became a citizen as well. During World War II, she joined ENSA, an organization providing entertainment to the British Armed Forces, where she sang and performed Russian dances. While in Great Britain, Zoya also sang opera and was dubbed, The Russian Nightingale. After an amicable divorce from her second husband, Zoya relocated to Paris, France, post World War II. It was in the city of lights that she continued to shine, recognized and admired by her fans. A born flirt, she met the love of her life in her 50's and continued a long relationship with him. Although it ended tragically, Zoya, no stranger to adversity, lived life to the fullest until her death.
Always in awe of my aunt and godmother, I remember her fondly, in my heart, and now in these pages. She truly lived up to her name, which means "life."