Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Ella & Marilyn

"I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt…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."
Ella Fitzgerald

In 1955, Marilyn Monroe approached Charlie Morrison, the owner of the Mocambo (1941-1958), a nightclub in West Hollywood frequented by celebrities (such as Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Errol Flynn, Charly Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, Henry Fonda, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Marlene Dietrich, and many others), when she discovered that Ella Fitzgerald was not allowed to play in her (Monroe's) favourite nightclub. She promised him to attend every performance seated at the front table if he let Fitzgerald play. Morrison agreed, Monroe sat in the front row, and Fitzgerald never again had to play in a small, second-rate jazz club (via).

Marilyn Monroe, however, also seemed to owe something to Ella Fitzgerald. When jazz pianist and composer Hal Schaefer was hired as Monroe's vocal coach he told her to listen to Ella Fitzgerald. She became a fan of hers and the two became friends (via).

“In the very beginning, I told her to buy Ella Fitzgerald’s recording of Gershwin songs. And I ordered her to listen to it a hundred times.” “She wasn’t really into jazz when she came to me. But I told her: ‘Look, I’m going to be your guide. This is where we have to start: listening to the best female singer there is.’ ”
Hal Schaefer

Ella Fitzgerald YouTube Selection:

- It don't mean a thing (1974): WATCH/LISTEN
- This girl in love with you (1969): WATCH/LISTEN
- Hey Jude (1969): WATCH/LISTEN
- Girl from Ipanema (1965): WATCH/LISTEN
- Hard Day's Night (1965): WATCH/LISTEN

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photographs via and via and via and via