Marilyn and Ella   1 comment

Not my typical post and certainly not my photo, but a fascinating story of friendship between a pair of one-time entertainment titans — Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald.  It’s a small story, just a glimpse really,  that altered what I thought I knew about both, but especially about Monroe.

On the surface both women could not have been more different.  Monroe, the beautiful blonde sex symbol of her generation, parlayed her beauty into stardom and power.  Fitzgerald, with the purest and most powerful jazz vocals of any generation, lived her life wishing for greater outward beauty.  What brought them together was a mutual love for music, especially jazz.

Monroe would attend Fitzgerald’s shows whenever the two were in Los Angeles or New York at the same time.  The problem was that Ella, despite being considered the Queen of Jazz, was still not able to sing in the major clubs in segregated 1950’s era America.  As Monroe and Fitzgerald developed a personal friendship, Marilyn decided to leverage her fame to help her friend, so she called the owner of one of the clubs that had been blacklisting Fitzgerald — the Mocambo in Los Angeles.  What did Monroe do and say?  In Ella’s own words:

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt,” Ella later said. “It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

A push back against prejudice and discrimination by a Hollywood icon.  But more importantly, an act of kindness for a friend.  I’ve always had an appreciation of Ella Fitzgerald, the singer.  And now a new-found appreciation for Marilyn Monroe, the person.

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Posted June 24, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Off Topic, People

One response to “Marilyn and Ella

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  1. Great story!

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