Transcript:

Speaker So we just put a little clip there. How do you feel about that song?

Speaker She loved it because actually. That's what really I was her. And everybody, every time, any, anywhere she appeared your own requests at that time, she got a little tired of it. But, you know, it was performed. She always loved to perform for our audience.

Speaker Let me go back. Could you tell me how you met our.

Speaker We used to play with the Sweethearts of Rhythm Girls band, and we traveled all over. And Ella was the SA bill in Washington at the Howard. And it just happened that her birthday and my birthday and the same. So we celebrate it. That me and we both got a little tipsy on champagne, which they don't make anymore. So it happened that since then. That was I was fifteen. And I've known her since. And we kept in touch. In fact, she kept baptized my. Daughter, she's godmother, and she used to take my daughter every summer. We lived in New York then and she wouldn't bring her to California and we kept in touch.

Speaker You visited her frequently when she came out here. No, I didn't. I just wrote.

Speaker When I started working with her, I did. And then we moved to California. So then I used to come to her house constantly, especially in the holidays. And she's to give Christmas parties and invite all of the family and everyone was there.

Speaker Now, a lot of people describe. Ella is not having much of a home life.

Speaker Well, she didn't because she was constantly on the road and that was her life. And like the soaps, I was alive. But she didn't have much of the idea. She worked, I think, mostly all year round. She had a few days off.

Speaker But now you're saying that you have parties?

Speaker No, I was just parties for the holidays, you know, mostly when she was in town Christmas holidays. She never worked. So we weren't there with her family and friends. She was the oldest used to invite Tony Bennett. He'd come down and. And Clint Eastwood would coming down. They all will come down, say hi. Stay a while.

Speaker How did you have to start traveling?

Speaker Well, she had a lady that travel. Her name was.

Speaker Elaine.

Speaker And Nash, who was a wonderful lady, but she passed away. Emma called me to tell me about Glenn and I was very moved because I really liked her. So then she didn't mention it. So then I said to myself, oh, you have to go because I love travelling. So I called her back. I said, Now, I guess what I says is that. Is that spot empty for someone to come traveling with you? So she says, why are you asking me that? I said, You have no idea. I want to come with you. She said, What would Bill say? Oh, we already spoke. I spoke to the family. I told them what I was thinking. She's just great. That's fine. Come on down.

Speaker So that's how I started with her. And I was living in California then. And what would you do? Yes.

Speaker I just I guess I'm a little down.

Speaker To when you read, Roger.

Speaker OK, let's keep it, despite what you did.

Speaker I mostly was a companion and helped her makeup and her gowns and dressed with. You talked and she needed someone to be with her.

Speaker She had a. Quite infection for clothes. Yes. And how did that.

Speaker Well, I guess from her, and she liked to look nice. I mean, for her to she know, I think at the very end she wore pants. But she always meant very much to her two percent herself, like a lady, you know, and she behaved like a lady all the time. You never get it. You never got any bad language out of her. And she was a very religious lady. She was Catholic. And she used to say her rah rah her prayers every day. You know, in the morning. That's the reason why she felt it was important to look nice.

Speaker You. It's in the background, therefore, for the.

Speaker Out the window.

Speaker OK.

Speaker Now, did she have any routines that she followed before she went on stage?

Speaker I really mean, like vocalising or something. No, no. She just had a moment to herself, and that's it.

Speaker Was she nervous?

Speaker She was until she got onstage. She was always very nervous, you know. And.

Speaker And the last few. Times, I think she forgot her lyrics and she felt that that was time just to step down. I mean, she even sang in time sitting on a bench. That's when she had a problem with her foot. So it was the idea of her singing. She tried to get up. He told the doctor, had told her to sit. She cut up. She wanted to dance. Of course she found.

Speaker When you were a musician. Yes. And most musicians.

Speaker We've spoken to regard L.A. as another musician singer, right?

Speaker Do you feel that way? Yes, because she had a tremendous year. I mean, she actually sounded like an instrument.

Speaker I mean, one time the drummer was kidding around. She says, whatever you do, don't say anything bad about Amoco's. Even though she's sitting in the next room, she can hear you because of her ear. She could hear unbelievable. She wanted to really study an instrument. But I did. I guess her life didn't allow her to know. She said, I was think saying that she wanted to be an opera singer.

Speaker President. But every voice I know. The.

Speaker We just said something reminded me.

Speaker People say that she was shy. Most people. But I can some a few people who say, well, there was a kind of. Press release version of Allah. And then there was a real Allah. Now, you really close. So what was.

Speaker Well, she was shy. She was an introvert. Believe it or not, I mean, her her lives only started living when she was on stage. I mean, she didn't like to go before the camera or anything because they kept asking her the same questions. And I one time I told my daughter, that goes, you have to. Participating in those things, because that goes with your ability and your talent. She sort of, you know, looked the other way, you know. And it seems and parties are used to always have some kind of a party after she finished, especially in Europe. They loved her so much. She always had a party. She never wanted to go because it was true that she always end up with a drink. Somebody spilled drink on her on a dress or her fur coat or whatever. I says, well, when you get to.

Speaker She. So sometimes she's apparently she thought that people were talking about her.

Speaker Yes. No. That's her self-consciousness. She always seemed to think. I used to tell him, you know, that she shouldn't be thinking that way. They weren't talking about in fact, my sister came to see me in Rome and she happened to mention I. She asked. My sister was singing in Rome. And she asked me, would you ask out to come? And she didn't like going out at all. So I said, no, I don't think she. She'd go. But you can ask her. So then we left. And the next morning I saw her. She says, What was your sister talk? Talking about me. She wasn't. She assumed all these things, but they weren't talking about her. She was very self-conscious, very well.

Speaker She had a pretty. Serious weight problem.

Speaker Yes. Yes. Because of her illness and a sickness and diabetes. And she started losing it.

Speaker Did you did she try to control it before?

Speaker We'll see, she had. I don't know if you heard of Pete Coviello. That was a road manager and he had this every time she had a sweet tooth, he would get her one candy bar and get the whole box. And I said, P, come on. Cool it. And he says, and, you know, it was. But she loves it. And he couldn't. He could do enough for her. So he wasn't helping her situation at all. So finally, I guess the doctor's got on her toes. You have to lose weight.

Speaker Tommy told me that she was a.

Speaker Public or private? And people, were you aware that.

Speaker Yes. When she was by herself.

Speaker She would do things that she supposed to be eating. But when she was in the public or everybody ran to the lunch. Or very lightly. But team Dr. Sweets, you can take her away from her. Well, that led to serious, very serious.

Speaker You were. One of the people who discovered that. Did was 20 something wrong with her foot?

Speaker No, no, I had nothing to do. She had a hangnail. And then she went to the doctor and person is picking on it. And I says, why are you picking on. Go to the doctor and find out. And evidently the doctors started digging on her, Tony. And that's what started. That seems so odd to me that I know on your doctors care constantly, every time she went on the road, she had a patch of arm. I see. I'll let you go. She said that they took blood. And no mention of it at all, just at the end, and then they started saying she had diabetes.

Speaker That's really surprising. I know.

Speaker You obviously knew Norman Grant's. Yes. What did you think about their relationship? Norman.

Speaker Norman was a case of himself. He was unbelievable. He controlled her and he never told her things until the very last minute. But I can see why he did that, because he would confuse her tremendously. You know, she could you couldn't tell our something that was going to happen months to come.

Speaker You have to wait to see the day before. And then he he sort of. Held will her financial earnings and he put her on a bunch. Because she had the tendency to be so loving and so free hearted, she would give anybody so that they weren't doing too well. She'd take her 100 belt and pass it around to. She did that with my kids and all I know. So he says in that sense, you're getting so much and that's it. So if I had been that one time when the backstage and I was someone, Norman, she was on singing. So I said, wow, she really sounds great tonight. Yeah. But her character has to be changed soon because he handled her and he handled other stars. You handled Sarah Horn and he couldn't handle Sarah Brown. Sarah was named Sassy for a reason. See where Ellen was completely different from Sarah. Sarah would tell off. And she never did.

Speaker Did she talk to you? I'd like to tell them.

Speaker Oh, no. Well, there were times that she felt kind of. Closed-in. She had ideas of leaving him, but then she realized that he was the one that made her so famous. So she sort of backed up and didn't say anything. Because she was not doing so well until she got with Norman. I mean, it's as strict as he was. He did a lot of good for her.

Speaker What we've done since this was we sure I mean, I've got a garbage truck out there and we all go for a cup. I just came for seconds. Everybody places.

Speaker He was stunning.

Speaker Yeah, he he was on Downbeat in New York. I used to have used to go to where she trashier performed.

Speaker And that night I went by myself and I was sitting in the bar and Joe Williams was singing. And then Alice sang.

Speaker So she passed by. And I said hi. And she said, Oh, hi. She didn't realize I would want. And she sort of kept walking. This went over to the door and she came back.

Speaker She said, What are you doing here? I said, I can't see you and Joe. Huh? I bet you came to see Joe, not me. Right.

Speaker Let's see that you say. Just getting back a bit, a little bit. OK. Norman. What were the things that he did that got upset?

Speaker Like I said, the fact that he didn't include her in everything that she was to do. He waited so long. He waited so long to tell her. But like I said, he had a reason for that. And he would sort of tell her where where they were going. And he kept booking her cross country all the time. And she didn't like that. She says, we were just in New York. Now you've taken us back to California from California, will take us back to New York. So then, you know, they had arguments, but they cleared it up.

Speaker There's a lot of controversy about that, it's like. With a normal working trip to hard.

Speaker Yes and no, because she enjoyed it so much. I mean, she had to be working to really function. I was her life, her singing, and she didn't sing. She just just lucked out. But I mean, I guess, first of all, they had two different personalities. No one was a type that comes in the room and takes over. You know, that's the type he was and he sort of dropped out after a while, but he dropped all the other artists and just booked her. Because he felt that she was on that he wanted to. To bring to start what she did, in fact, he has the only picture that Picasso. Did Bella. She was the only entertainer that he drew. And Norman. So he probably still has it.

Speaker She.

Speaker You already mentioned her generosity and everything. She was extraordinarily generous with her family. All right. Which seemed to expand like how it would work.

Speaker Well, I don't know about that. Well.

Speaker I really don't like to talk about that, because that's one of her words, part of her life, her family. She just she just was so much for them and it didn't come through. So, of course, they they always felt that she was famous.

Speaker Not at. So why would they attempt to do anything? So she had to go to the aunt's house in. Now with the money. Pass it around to the kids.

Speaker I don't know, but that sounds so apprec and like.

Speaker It was sad. Was really sad. That was part sad. Her life was her family.

Speaker She started supporting these people very early.

Speaker All right. And never stop, never stop. Did they come to see her? Well.

Speaker Christmas hyphenated. It was, I say, at Christmas time. And factually, I think she bought her house here in California. She's passed away. So.

Speaker And.

Speaker Chad problems their own son. He barely. Came to see here and he was first. He was having one job and he put it band.

Speaker A group of kids together and he was going around.

Speaker And then he moved in with her because someone called him up and say that the house that she had was gone to Alawi's.

Speaker Her niece. So he says no. That's my house. He moved in with his mother. He didn't. You'll hear from Jeremy so you can pop him in and Ray Junior did a lot to give.

Speaker But she has some nieces. Oh, yes. She had quite a bit of. And your little girl?

Speaker Yes. No. That was in the other house, not the one that she has had. Now, she had two homes here. That was different. That's a long time ago when my daughter was about six. She used a come summer time and spend time with.

Speaker And she was nuts about kids.

Speaker Oh, love them. She had a school here that she gave so much money to. See, this is why the reason why I mentioned Chester, because Chester used to drive her there every Christmas and she'd give them money and give them Turkey. Give them. It was named after her.

Speaker Really? Because she had. She was always there when she loved children.

Speaker What did your daughter have to say about Summer with Ella?

Speaker It was she says it was interesting. She was always had the kids around, you know, and she cooked for them. She had a maid, cooked her own, didn't cook. She said she had a nice time. She always used to send her dresses. She always had a dress to change. Kept the kids very well dressed.

Speaker They. She. You said to me that.

Speaker I think you said this at. Your daughter said Ella didn't treat.

Speaker Ray, very well, yeah, that's true because for some reason, you know, she was constantly on the road. So she didn't have time to really to be with him.

Speaker And the fact that he was adopted really was. And I just found that from her recently. My daughter recently, she says that she had never told me this. And I because we were talking about Ray. What you had asked me. This is Jamar. She really was very cool with him. Well, that's weird. That's why I don't know.

Speaker Shindou. Couldn't tell the reason.

Speaker No, it's just a fact that there was no attraction in there. I think I'm just.

Speaker It's really sad.

Speaker But he kind of acted up like a regular teenager. Always.

Speaker But then there really seemed to be some break between them. Do you know what caused that? He just did not want to come home anymore.

Speaker Well, I mean, maybe it had to do the fact that she was No. She was always on the road. Then he moved up to Seattle, and that's where he lived. But the fact was it was. She says she generally called down and wrote him a letter, rather, as he rarely, rarely rally called her. No, it was not a lie. I think he saw Ray Junior Senior more than he did his mother.

Speaker Same thing.

Speaker It's the schedule that she was on. Norman. You know, back and forth across the country. How did that affect you? I mean, you had to do the same thing.

Speaker I loved you. I love travelling. That's the reason I ran. No, I got there very tiresome. But they used to give us a day in between sort of far. We she was entertaining. One night we'd get there. We always got there the day before. So give us time to relax and time line and time to. To do whatever we want to and then to perform, and then we got another day off. After the performance and then we leave. The following day.

Speaker Yes is her. Health. Deteriorate. She must have been difficult.

Speaker Well, I left her just before she got a heart attack.

Speaker In fact.

Speaker I went to see her at the hospital and she says, you know, you had a good time. So I says, I'm sorry to hear what happened.

Speaker She said, well, it just happened so fast. She had a pacemaker put in. Everything started just crumbling.

Speaker You are aware of that? Yes. How were you?

Speaker Well, the fact that she was constantly going to the doctor and constantly. Mostly when she was in Boston, she had one of the specialists we used to go see him for her eyes. And her eyesight wasn't getting any better. I remember in Japan going through a hotel. There was a glass door. I didn't call her. She turned around because she was going to walk right into the glass door.

Speaker I just wanted to on this go out the door so I couldn't see the door. So that's when it started. Everything was just.

Speaker So she really needed to have somebody. Oh, yes. Why do you think? She never formed a close. Relationship with a man.

Speaker Well, she did. She had Bobby from Washington. In fact, he went with her to that big thing in Washington where they they honor five American stars, not American entertainers. And he was there and he had his practice in Washington. But later, I think later in the years he moved here to California with her. I think he passed away also.

Speaker So.

Speaker In her later years, she had a close relationship, but there was all that. Yeah.

Speaker Mary Green Brown. What, she was about 30. All right. It didn't last very long.

Speaker Of course, Raimes had other ideas. Oh, well, with Ruth Brown.

Speaker So she was very upset about it, but she. That's ideas of doing away with herself.

Speaker And I know what you're talking about. She has no idea what what went through my head when he left as his life goes on. You got to keep going. Yeah, I guess we'll have to do that. She was very upset when he knocked her.

Speaker He said the caller had. I said, bringing. What do you mean?

Speaker Well, the fact that she was going from foster homes, she was in an orphanage, you know, and she didn't really get to see her parents get to know them, really. She was. Born Haroon.

Speaker That's what I meant. Did she tell you why she was in these foster homes?

Speaker Well, she was an orphan to begin with. So they put her there and I think then she moved in with her sister.

Speaker And it's a sister named Turn. Think of is.

Speaker She actually she went for a while after. Right. Virginia. Well, that's an interesting question. She adopted Ray from her sister, half sister.

Speaker Well, I've heard several stories now. Jim has another story. And the fact that this Ray Junior was some, I think her name, her sister's boy. And then I heard something else. I heard that it was Ruth Brown's boy. So you don't know who to believe. So that's maybe that's one of the reasons why she didn't really take to.

Speaker Maybe Jim can clear it up. Yeah.

Speaker Cut. And we were really just sorry. No. Oh, we. You have all this research on illness. And what we've found out is that she. For some reason was sent to a.

Speaker Training school for girls. Did she ever talk about that? And she escaped?

Speaker No.

Speaker And for a while. She was essentially homeless.

Speaker This I could believe. Because she always didn't really enjoy talking about her past. You know, there was something that she says sometimes I just wish I could just forget it was that bad.

Speaker That's how she managed to put it off.

Speaker And you didn't know she was a very close lady? You know, when I asked her something, she would just give me a straight answer, and that was it. She just didn't want to get into that.

Speaker Uh.

Speaker Did the.

Speaker She did. It's kind of funny, these.

Speaker A lot of people say, well, Ella was sad and lonely. And when I talk to Tommy Flanagan about that, he said no. Was very. She knew the score that there were guys who came around because she was rich and famous. That didn't bother.

Speaker She ever talk about.

Speaker She sort of knew the fact that she was famous and had a lot of people came to her, you know. And she says, my family used to get letters from this person. So that's who she is. Family to her. This guy was all of a sudden coming out of woodwork due to where I'm coming from. Well, you know, because you're famous, you know, but. As far as being lonely, I think there were times when she was.

Speaker What made you think that?

Speaker Because she would. Compare my life with hers. And as you know, Bill would always be at the at the airport where I with in keep brand floor for her and for me. She'd say, how come I can somebody bring. You probably will. I said, what about this man in Germany? He brought you a whole bag of flowers, yet someone's flowers for you.

Speaker He said, Yeah, but that's different. I said, Why? And I think, you know, she was married to a.

Speaker The nationality was. He was from Copenhagen. And she lived there for a while with him.

Speaker I said, you have happiness then. He's here just a little while, and she used to tell me that she would have custody and that once they bring you something food, you have to return it.

Speaker Food.

Speaker Is how good you did cooking. You got it. Good. But she enjoyed her life in.

Speaker I think that was. When she was about maybe 60 or.

Speaker It should look better. But that didn't work out. No, it didn't work at all. She would tell you why that didn't work.

Speaker Well, she missed singing again.

Speaker Know, she was she stopped singing for a while and she just. Missed her audience, her people, her family. Just to call.

Speaker And there was a time there in Germany where they loved their so much, they kept stumping stumpy stuff. They wouldn't let it go. So she went in the dressing room. She didn't come on happening with this dress to dress. And he was still out there.

Speaker Stomping and clapping, and so she would have stayed with her street clothes and to the other hour.

Speaker This that was her singing to her. You can't take that away from her.

Speaker That's what she enjoyed.

Speaker So maybe was really full.

Speaker Yes. Was her happiness. You know, it's it's really hard to try to keep anything going. If you have two lives. She was hours away. I mean, she enjoyed singing sometimes. She used to do a thing hiring Joe Pass. It was so beautiful. I said it looks like you two guys are really going at it up there because. Deal with from the heart. It was this guy, it was sounds so good. He's really enjoyed it, says you. Unbelievable.

Speaker So I had all those tapes, which I don't have anymore, but they were wonderful. Wonderful.

Speaker And Joe Parce felt it that she was singing with so much love coming out. And he was right there with her.

Speaker You said that she was very religious. Yes.

Speaker I'm not really aware of that, I know, because while she didn't have time to go to church, which I did and she did due to make sure and pray I us I was praying for you. And but she always had a little prayer book with her. And she daily prayers. She'd say daily prayers. And then to her, she felt that that was sufficient for her. And I gave her a rosary and she says, Who, Judy, this is beautiful. Who thought of this? Said, I did. She says, thank you. And she had them all after her operation. She had her rosaries right by her bed.

Speaker Yes, it's good for you.

Speaker What was she raised, the Catholic.

Speaker I never discussed that with her. Never.

Speaker We don't find any. I know, I know, I know. But anyway, I'm gonna go back. Yes, I hear it.

Speaker Your favorite?

Speaker Well, I had the long favorite, something that I could sing, especially like I said before, when she was with Joe, but people was one of them and feelings when she sang in the whole house.

Speaker She sang that in New York. In fact, it was honoring Elizabeth Taylor. And Sinatra was the emcee. He sort of was a lot of stars there. And he everyone performed Dinah Shore perform.

Speaker And at the end, Elton was supposed to sing and she sang Feeling then sonatas as well. Ladies and gentlemen, I can't follow that.

Speaker He was supposed to sing after her, so he'd just picked up and left her feelings. I mean, you could actually hear a pin drop. She just put her whole heart into it. And I told you that was just beautiful. She'd like to be reinforced. That's funny. She was so insecure. She was completely I was used to tell her when I liked something I liked. Something I never told. Something I didn't like. She didn't like that either. But we got along pretty good. How long were you with them? Six years. Yeah, we popped around country.

Speaker You've been down here, Lord.

Speaker Oh, that's the honored her. I was beautiful. I close the store completely closer and they fixed it with all her pictures all around.

Speaker And upstairs, they had dinner for her and then they showed her when she was singing. Two artists got a tasket with Luke Abbott and Costello. They show that.

Speaker And that was just honouring her. And they had all the stars. Cicely Tyson was there and was Joe Williams was there. Mostly New Yorkers who were mostly there. That was a wonderful night.

Speaker Really beautiful. Yes, she was. You feel that it was really special. She felt that to her.

Speaker She felt that it was too much to do for her. I said no, how are you gonna realize you're a big stars? But I don't. She didn't enjoy half of them.

Speaker I just one that goes with the. What are you doing? So she just nodded her head.

Speaker But she was every time we sang in Europe, after every performance, they had something for her.

Speaker Here's a. Continental, that's OK.

Speaker Now, the Continental, they were having problems with financial problems and they figured they should try something new. That's when Newman came to the airport and drew a picture before we got on.

Speaker And they they sort of made a space on the plane for Keiter. Joe and I want an.

Speaker Paul was playing in. And she said, well, the airplane has no flight.

Speaker So they tried that, but that was the only time. So I guess it didn't. I mean, a lot of people came out because the advertisers, she would be on the plane.

Speaker They would have been a pretty expensive ticket, no fly with all of the things.

Speaker Caracas, Venezuela.

Speaker Oh, and we went to Caracas. I was her interpreter there was speaking Spanish to her. So she says to duty me, I would smile without telling me. So then I would interview. They would ask the same questions again and I would tell her in English. And I was sort of work for her. You know, that's another thing that I did for her.

Speaker She attempted to sing in Portuguese.

Speaker Oh, yes. She loved singing Portuguese. And she tries she always was making nine to make a Spanish album, but she never did. So as I said, she says, Gee, do you want to help me with this? Yes, I'll help you with it. But she never got around to that.

Speaker He said her Portuguese sounded like Japanese.

Speaker No, no, she was very good. She had a personal tutor.

Speaker I helped her with her. I mean, like I said, she had a fantastic year. And she was able to no. I thought she was good when she sang. One note, samba.

Speaker That's very good. Italy.

Speaker Oh, Italy. Right. Right. We went to Italy. We had escort. And it was they were blowing their horns and yelling and the people yelling battle. So she was in the cab and saying, eat your heart out.

Speaker So not true. This is how, you know, she had a great sense of humor.

Speaker She once in a while, she would come on in and the people, they couldn't they had to actually broke them off because the bailout, blah.

Speaker They didn't understand one point she was saying. But they enjoyed her. They really and truly enjoyed her. That was more of a European thing. Yeah. They love musicians that play jazz. They love jazz. In fact, this Russian man came up with her picture in an in a jacket with with her song in Russian. And he was trying to. He didn't speak English, but he was trying to tell her that it was for her. So he she always wanted to go to Russia. But Norman didn't want to take the chance. You know, at the time they wouldn't be trying to get there was very hard. But the things that they would give her was unbelievable. She would. And, you know, you insult them if you're old, take it. So she says, my God, dude, we don't have any more room in the luggage. They used to give her pictures, statues, everything I could think of. And that was an honor to them to give to her. Like I said, that may have brought that whole van full of roses for her. But she donated it to the children's hospital. He says, make sure you take that to the children's hospital. I can't take all those flowers.

Speaker That's when the cuppers.

Speaker What he saying about Paloma Picasso?

Speaker Oh, when we were in France.

Speaker Backstage, Paloma came to see her. She was her favorite singer, entertainer. So Paloma was she was a creator of jewelry. That was her trade.

Speaker She had this thing on her. It was about this big, pure gold and filled with beautiful stones, just beautiful animals and rubies. Why have you diamonds and others is. Oh, that's so beautiful.

Speaker And you said you like it. She went like she took it. She'd been attacked.

Speaker And Ellen never took it off. Never. She in fact, I saw that they often drop off recently, but she's not that thing.

Speaker And I thought that was so beautiful of her. Yes. And she kissed her and told her no. Were you?

Speaker Oh, yeah.

Speaker Eventually, Ali's health deteriorated so badly. Were you in touch with you then?

Speaker Oh, yes.

Speaker We used to come to see home and the house, but she was I mean, when she was still performing, when she was performing, she wasn't that bad. You know, it's just started when I was with her.

Speaker Like I said, I left her and then she started with the heart. I understand her diabetes got worse and amputated one leg, but I was in love with her.

Speaker But I did come to her house to see her several times with my daughter. I thought I wanted to see her.

Speaker Why do you think? Well, with her health going off like that, she was doing because she had to have the strength to perform.

Speaker She figured her voice, but then it got so bad that, like I said, she forgot her lyrics and.

Speaker She says she felt within herself that she had to give up. But he didn't want to.

Speaker Finally, of course, your doctor said that's it. Uh, I'm finished performing. Uh, did you see her after that?

Speaker Yes, if the whole team got that time shattered, the other leg amputated, which I understand it didn't tell her. And she wasn't. Maybe because of the sickness, she wasn't aware of what's happening. She told me that she fell down the steps. No, they didn't. I don't know. They didn't tell her. She just wasn't grasping it. What was the atmosphere in the house? It was very sad. I noticed they put in steps and a little chair to bring it down because you wasn't walking anymore. She didn't have that. I mean.

Speaker Tichy, reminisce. No.

Speaker Saying you didn't provoke some kind of.

Speaker No, she was glad to see it, you know, at times she forgot.

Speaker Then she would have to sort of concentrate and look at you. And then she'd remember. But she remembered my daughter very well.

Speaker You know, the thing about kids is it is a story that. She was confined to bed and everything. One of her nieces and grand niece. And she took the child saying, hello, Dolly.

Speaker Right. Yes. No, Mr. Jim told me that. Yeah.

Speaker And some said. I think the feeling was really kind of a simple person.

Speaker Right. You're right.

Speaker Uh. Damn straight and always knew what. I like this and I don't like that, and I'm not going to do that.

Speaker Yes.

Speaker How did how did you see it?

Speaker Well, the fact that she was very timid to begin with, that she was introvert and she did not want to. She just wanted to go one way, you know, like she said, she went to the store and they tried to sell her something she didn't want. So she says, no, I don't want that. So she says, do they just pick my bag? And I left. Good for you. Are you through the 80s? Well, you know, she probably had an account there or what have you.

Speaker But she says, no, I don't want that. And that's what she used to do her own time.

Speaker She was on a real strict budget to graduate and get to meet.

Speaker Water. Mary Jane. There was she was like her right hand. When she passed away, I think two years ago. I think she passed away after I was done.

Speaker Actually, no.

Speaker But she came like we were always at San Francisco, at the Fairmont. She was always there. She'd come see me as much as possible. And she made her her attorney, attorney, power of attorney.

Speaker She was involved in her life. And I'm sure you met Margaret.

Speaker Margaret? Not no. I haven't spoken to her. I don't know whatever happened with that.

Speaker I I spoke to her a couple of times and.

Speaker You think she would be important? I don't know. I think. Because Norm. Yeah, yeah. All right. This what you were mostly. I had a long conversation with Norman. Really wonderful.

Speaker I must say, it wasn't a conversation, Norman talk. I know. But he was extremely negative about Ella. Well, he's also very sick.

Speaker All right. He heads with the eyes, the same thing. No, I have cataracts. What have you. He could have could could have gotten senile by now. He didn't. He doesn't want no part of anyone, really. To do with interview on anything, because I can understand that trying to talk to her. He said no.

Speaker He is saying no, but he took. We were about an hour. And I kept saying, well. What was good about her? You know what?

Speaker Yeah. Nothing to say. Well, he refused to soften up blow every once in a while. Then he would go back into this negative. Manchester for forty five times. Exactly.

Speaker If it was that bad, it didn't make sense. It makes sense to me.

Speaker That's sad because he made so much money for her. His her first gift from him was when he.

Speaker As a result, no one on a Rolls Royce.

Speaker Yeah, Rolls Royce was his first gift to her. In fact, she still had it. They had an auction.

Speaker Chris, you brought it up with the money, of course.

Speaker Yes, exactly. Where else?

Speaker The.

Speaker When did they see it, when was the last time, sir? Pardon? The last time you saw it. Oh. I'm.

Speaker I think maybe at her home maybe two years before she died.

Speaker Maybe a year. Not too good.

Speaker Did you speak to her?

Speaker Yeah, we went up in her room. She never came down anymore. She always stayed in her room. So we went up to her room and we sat for a while. She offered us mine. She offered us a drink. But then she would sort of forget that you there, you know, her mind is going in and out at the time. We'll stay two more.

Speaker Did you feel that? Everything's being taken care of adequate.

Speaker Yes. She had a nurse there that I met. That was a live in nurse that she needed. So evidently, it was someone that was caring for her.

Speaker How did you hear about her death?

Speaker Oh, I was in Washington. The sweethearts were being honored in Washington. And as we were on the table, you're not. The announcement came by and the announcer said he interrupted everything.

Speaker I have a bulletin, very sad bulletin. We have lost one of our. Greatest entertainer. And that's how we're. You feel terrible, you know. I knew she was pretty sick. And I felt that she wasn't suffering anymore.

Speaker You know, you're one of two people who went to the funeral.

Speaker They were. They were sort of certainly had to be called and told, you can come. I have received the letter. Stating that tickets have you and your name to be on the list.

Speaker And could you describe it?

Speaker Well. Her son ran everything, and he's a.

Speaker He's a Jehovah's Witness. That's the only thing I resent the fact that she wasn't given a Catholic burial. She was. He had someone speaking up there. And then. We stayed for a while and. It took a toll mausoleum here in California. Hollywood. And we went back to the house.

Speaker I just there's something in relation to a funeral lot of.

Speaker Quite a few people have noses. I have a joint because they didn't.

Speaker Well, that I think that was raise. Doing. He's wanted that and Ray and Mary Jane was there. Margaret was there. They had.

Speaker The list to call, I assume that because.

Speaker In fact, when I spoke to Margaret and I said some. Is Jim coming? So she said, Jinho. I said, Gee, Blackman, so is well, I don't know.

Speaker I don't know if you suppose he wasn't invited, but he showed up anyway. So I looked around. So there he is. She says, talking to the devil. I said, thanks a lot, Margaret. And Jim says, I'm glad you made it. So, yeah, they don't want me to be here. But he got in anyway. They had a whole list of people checking email.

Speaker Do you think you'll be with the people that you most?

Speaker Oh, well, mostly the family and the entertainers when they read to Senior was their.

Speaker Nancy. Wilson was there. Natalie Cole was there. Mostly on entertainers, and I remember.

Speaker What do you think his legacy?

Speaker To her music, her beautiful song? I think no one will be able to sing why she sings.

Speaker Came from the heart. She wasn't a very intelligent person. But when she sang. She just opened up her heart to everyone. And she loves her audience. She loved people. I think that was her legacy.

Speaker It's interesting because there are certainly critics who have said that Ilma saying without emotion.

Speaker Really? That's very interesting. She didn't read one note of music go into it, but it was all her ear and her emotions or her heart was out there. I mean, you've you have her and Joe passionate take just listen to listen to what's coming out of their. I'm surprised they say that because, uh, singing to her was her whole life.

Speaker Oh, I.

Speaker Tommy said that sometimes when you're that good. I just got some garbage trucks, I for certain. Yes, OK. We were just talking about this. Some people saying what was saying without emotion.

Speaker Tommy Flanagan said, well, you know, when you're that good, uh, you have all of that gift. That's all they hear, that they can hear that you're perfect. You don't hear the rest.

Speaker Sorry, I disagree with him. On the contrary, she never thought she was perfect. She was always asking everyone, how did I do? How do you know? She was always insecure about her performance. And she was you know, she was fantastic out there. I thought. I mean, I was so I mean, the people itself, they love her. When I saw her out here in in California. She came out. She says, I've got to tell you one thing. I don't rap.

Speaker Everybody started to laugh. Oh, you don't need to rap.

Speaker And when she was out, she saw this singer with backup singers. She said, you know, maybe I should have backup singers and Portsmouth's Allah. You don't need backup singers. That's the way she thought. I mean, to her, she didn't. I mean, she didn't really think she was. Ella Fitzgerald.

Speaker You had to sort of remind her all the time she was. I think her talent, like I say, nobody will ever replace her.

Speaker OK. Unfortunately, we have the answer again.

Speaker OK, let's just do it. Of course, it will rule on just maybe it gets me. God struck you. Hang on.

Speaker I think we got to do that question and answer.

Speaker OK. Let me save some. You were just saying shoot story. I don't read.

Speaker Oh, when she was singing at the bowl here in California, she went up to the mike. Just something I have to tell you that I do not rap. So the audience started to laugh and laugh and they yelled back, oh, well, you don't need to rap.

Speaker And then, like I said.

Speaker Paul Smith, she was talking to Paul Smith and she heard the sing backup singers and told Paul, you know, Paul, maybe I should get backup singers, Paul said, you don't need backup singers.

Speaker Well, I you know, I really I was. Contrast just so she says some.

Speaker So she was not really conscious of.

Speaker No, she was always looking for someone to tell her that she's great. Not that she was great, but that she was doing well. She was singing. Performing. And, you know, she. To her, singing was her whole life.

Speaker But, you know, she was like I said, the tapes were Joe pass in her. It comes out so beautiful. And that's what Ella was.

Speaker OK. Yeah, I'm just quiet, please not.

Speaker It was Rueter.

Speaker Just thanks to.

Judy Cammarota
Interview Date:
1999-03-31
Runtime:
1:01:33
Keywords:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-zc7rn3119p, cpb-aacip-504-br8mc8s16d
MLA CITATIONS:
"Judy Cammarota, Ella Fitzgerald: Something to Live For." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 31 Mar. 1999, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/495
APA CITATIONS:
(1999, March 31). Judy Cammarota, Ella Fitzgerald: Something to Live For. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/495
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Judy Cammarota, Ella Fitzgerald: Something to Live For." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). March 31, 1999. Accessed January 22, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/495

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