79 (passed away Jun. 15th, 1996)
Apr. 25th, 1917
Newport News, Virginia, USA
Ella Fitzgerald's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1955 - Pete Kelly's Blues
1942 - Ride 'Em Cowboy
Guest TV Roles
Herself - Singer
On Saturday, June 15th, 1996, an era in jazz singing came to an end, with the death of Ella Fitzgerald at her home in California. She was the last of four great female jazz singers (including Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan (I), and Carmen McRae) who defined one of the most prolific eras in jazz vocal style. Ella had extraordinary vocal skills from the time she was a teenager, and joined the Chick Webb Orchestra in 1935 when she was 16 years old. With an output of more than 200 albums, she was at her sophisticated best with the songs of Richard Rodgers (I) and Lorenz Hart, of George Gershwin, and of Cole Porter. Her 13 Grammy awards are more than any other jazz performer, and she won the Best Female Vocalist award three years in a row. Completely at home with up-tempo songs, her scat singing placed her jazz vocals with the finest jazz instrumentalists, and it was this magnificent voice that she brought to her film appearances. Her last few years, during which she had a bout with congestive heart failure and suffered bilateral amputation of her legs from complications of diabetes, were spent in seclusion.
- Her recording of The Beatles "Can't By Me Love" was one of George Martin's favorite recordings he produced.
- Entombed at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California - Sunset Memorial Garden Mausoleum, Second Floor, Sanctuary of the Bells, Crypt 1063
- Pictured on a 39¢ USA commemorative postage stamp in the Black Heritage series, issued 10 January 2007.
- Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 208-210. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
- Ella joined ASCAP in 1940, and her chief musical collaborators included Chick Webb, Lupin Fien, and Josef Myrow. Her popular-song compositions include "A-Tisket, A-Tasket", "You Showed Me the Way", "Spinnin' the Web", "I Found My Yellow basket", "Chew, Chew, Chew", "Please Tell the Truth", "Oh! But I Do", and "Just One of Those Nights".
- Her first marriage on December 26, 1941 - to Harlem hustler Ben Kornegay - was quickly annulled at the advice of her agent and concerned friends. In later years she denied having been married to Kornegay.
- She was a victim in an early attempt to integrate the classical music audience in Houston, Texas. In 1955 she, 'Dizzy Gillespie' (qv), and 'Illinois Jacquet' (qv) were arrested by the vice squad before a Jazz at the Philharmonic concert at Music Hall, charged with gambling backstage. They were released in time to perform, on payment of a $50 bail. Promoter 'Norman Granz' (qv), also arrested, indicated that the raid was a set-up in response to his insistence that the concert not be segregated.
- Charter inductee of the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1978.