Ella Fitzgerald And Marilyn Monroe: Friendship Built On Shared Pain And History Of Abusive Childhood


When you imagine the private lives of celebrities, you probably think about glamour and adoring fans. But in reality, the road to stardom of some of the most renowned actors and singers was pretty bumpy. Many of them had to go through tragic losses and abuse. And jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald was not an exception.


Troubled childhood

Geoffrey Mark’s new biography on the artist reveals that she endured much cruelty before she became one of the most celebrated singers. When she was a teenager, Ella’s mom died in a car accident, and her mother’s companion often turned to Fitzgerald for comfort.


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Then, she ran away and was sent to a reform school. Being African-American, Ella was segregated, given worst food, and even raped and abused. But her faith in God gave her strength and helped her become a star by 16-17. As Mark says:

She believed if she did the right thing, if she worked hard, the outcome would come out in her favor.

Bond with Marilyn Monroe

In Hollywood, there was another star with a history of a troubled childhood who was willing to help Fitzgerald. In 1955, Marilyn Monroe began attending Ella’s gigs and concerts. And while chatting with each other, the two found out they had much in common.

Both stars had to survive for themselves and deal with being women in a male-dominated industry. On top of it, Ella was often treated badly for being black and overweight.

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Since Marilyn was more successful at that point, she opened up some doors for her new friend, saying to managers:

If you book her in this really high-class nightclub, I’ll bring 10 celebrities every night, and you’ll get more publicity than you’re paying her in salary.


When Ella traveled from Los Angeles to other states, Monroe always followed her, making sure Fitzgerald could go through the front door instead of the side door at every venue.


They remained friends until Marilyn’s ultimate death at 36 in 1962. Since then, Ella has managed to build a successful career spanning 7 decades, tour 40-45 weeks per year, and win numerous prestigious awards, including Grammys. She died in 1996, at the age of 79.

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