Ella Fitzgerald's Big Break

Legends Season 4, Ep 2 10/04/2016 Views: 7,566

Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe helps legendary singer Ella Fitzgerald land her first gig at an exclusive club. (5:49)

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My name is Tymberlee Hill,

and today we're gonnatalk about

Ella Fitzgeraldand Marilyn Monroe.


Ella Fitzgerald-- she's the Queen of Song.

Nobody sings better than Ella Fitzgerald.

So Ella's on the chitlin circuit.

She's killing it everywhere.

Chitlin circuit is for anybody who's black that performs.

Now, let's talk aboutthe Mocambo.

Can we really quickly?

The Mocambo is a place where

[bleep] Frank Sinatra debuted in the '40s.

This is a place where Lana Turner,

Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant--

this was the hot spot,and you couldn't do it bigger,

except, they do not want to let her in,

and they're like-- [mumbling] She's too black.

She's too chubby.

She's too ugly. [drink sloshes]

Ah, shit, and [bleep]and all kinds of shit and piss.

- You want to clean that--

- Oh, that's okay,I, um, Scotchgard.

I Scotchgard likea mother[bleep].

I can keep it going.I can keep it going.

What was the last thingthat she said?

Her--the last thing--oh, okay.

Oh, so, so, so, so.

Marilyn Monroe-- she's huge.

People didn't get it, and they were like,

can't you just be our hot thing with no clothes on

with the dress blowing up that we love so much?

And she was like, no, I can't.

I want to do some real acting.

So Marilyn Monroe goes into her voice teacher.

She says I want to be a triple threat.

I want to do everything.

I'm taking this class in acting,

I'm doing these dancing classes,

blah-de-blah-blah, you are my man for the voice.


Her voice coach says,

if you want to learn how to sing,

buy Ella Fitzgerald's album.

She gets this record.

She lays down on the floor

and listens to this record 100 times in a row.

She goes, this is the most astonishing voice

I've ever heard in my life.

She calls the Mocambo,and they're like,

oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God!

Marilyn Monroe, what the [bleep]?

And she's like, bring it all down.

If you let my favorite,my favorite baby girl

jump on stage and sing her songs,

I will show up, and I will sit in the fr--


And I will sit in the front row of the audience

every single night,

and you can take as many pictures of me as you want.

[chuckles] I'm sorry.

- You're very excited.

- I am, I love these two,

and I've known this storyforever.


Ella Fitzgerald-- she gets a phone call,

and they're saying,

we would love to have you at the Mocambo.

[stammering] But what?

Like, what the [bleep] are we talking about right now?

He's like, somebody made a phone call.

Somebody... named Marilyn Monroe.


So she's like, Marilyn-- I don't know Marilyn Monroe.

Like, what are we saying?

You know, like, she didn't--[gasps]

Know anything about that.- You okay?

- Yes,I just have weird hiccups

and a lot of catched breaths.

Ella shows up at the Mocambo,

and Marilyn takes a front-row center table.

The lights go down.

Ella walks out onto the stage, and then--boom!

It comes out of her voice.

[scatting dynamically]

♪ Dah-dah-dah,dah-dah-dah... ♪

♪ Ah-scooby-dooby-dooby-dah

[scatting dynamically]

And then people are a-going crazy.

And one person is like, I didn't even know music

could sound like that.

And then Marilyn was like, I've heard these songs before.

But I never heard them.

What is going on right now?

Like, I can't even understand my own mind.

That is a human voice singing to us.

And Marilyn, true to her word,

shows up every single night,

and she sits in the front row.

One night, after Ella performed,

Marilyn came backstage.

[uplifting orchestral music]

So, so, it's just two girls

talking aboutwhat real life is like.

Marilyn is like, ugh, you know, I'm a [bleep] orphan.

And, uh...what's her name?

Ella is like, I'm a [bleep] orphan too.

Then Marilyn's like, I had two marriages,

and Ella's like, oh, my God, I was married to somebody

when I was really young, and then I married another guy.

And then Marilyn was like, I cannot be accepted

in this business because of the way that I look.

And Ella's like, I cannot be accepted

in this business because of the way that I look!

And these two women, they literally meet each other.

Because Marilyn Maloa--Mon--Meh--

Marilyn Mon--

Marilyn Mano...



Marilyn... [sighs]

But anyway.

In this moment,that Marilyn helps Ella,

she frees them both.

The fact is, sometimes,

sisters have to hook each other up.

And when Marilyn passes away,

because they stayed friends,

Ella Fitzgerald said,

I owe Marilyn a great debt.

After she personally called

the managers of the Mocambo room

and allowed me to play there,

I was never, ever, ever, ever again in my life

relegated to a small club.

She says, Marilyn was extraordinary

and ahead of her time.

She loved that lady.