Speaker The first question I'd like to start with, could you tell me a story that you think best expresses your relationship with Ella Fitzgerald?

Speaker Well, I guess maybe if I tell this story and the way it developed, you will have to draw your own conclusion of what type of relationship I had with Ella. Because to me, I think I might be inclined to exaggerated a view of the fact that I had such a great affection and respect for her as an artist and as a woman. She was coming to New York in her semi-annual appearances at Ralph Watkins base in St East. And as was usual, I was arranging for her to be interviewed on various stations to prepare for advance publicity of her performances. And we were going from NBC. I don't remember. There was the Today Show or whatever. Over to CBS. And we were walking up Sixth Avenue, Ella, Pete. Her manager and myself. And we'd been out for several hours on interviews. And I was kind of hungry. I said, Ella, will you excuse me? I went, where you going? She said, and I said, I'd like to get myself something to eat. And she said, Well, where are you going? I said, I'm going to get a hotdog. I understand she's. Well, how about me? I said, you are going to stand in the street, need a hot dog. She says will try me. That said to Pete, get us to with all this stuff on it and seven up which we both black seven up. She put her alligator bag on her wrist, which might have been several thousands of dollars, you know, the skins. And she had her own rope, them a ring and her diamond and gold watch and a sable coat. And she stood there eating the hot dog and drinking the seven up. And a man came up to her and he said, Miss Fitzgerald, you are Miss Fitzgerald, aren't you? And she looked at him kind of frowning and he said, you know, you look just like Ella Fitzgerald. She's not funny. Everybody tells me that. Now, I think this establishes the fact that we had a great rapport. We shared some wonderful experiences. And she was a dynamite lady. What does this say about what this says about Ella to me is that she was regular, you know, because in my lifetime in the in the performing arts world, I've worked with almost everybody. I've been fortunate enough and blessed for every superstar. Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, Benny Goodman. So this to me says about Ella that she was a down to earth real gal. I mean, she could have said, let's go to the Waldorf. Let's go to 21. It would have mattered, but I wanted a hot dog in the street. That was good enough for her. So it says to me that this is a real down to earth lady, that you love her just walking through the street.

Speaker Right.

Speaker She also resented if you hired a limousine for her, she'd say, let's give the New York cab driver a break. Why are you getting those expensive limousines?

Speaker Well, sounds like a lovely lady. When did you first hear Ella?

Speaker I guess I heard Ella for the first time. I was a teen. It was in my teens at Ralph Watkins house. He was a jazz enthusiast. He was the man had Kelly stable and royal rules to BOP City and the embers from Basan Street. And he also had a great jazz collection. I happened to be related to him. So I heard our singing. I let a song go out of my heart. And of course, I immediately got my mother to get one because we also had my day. We call them Victrolas. We got a Victrola. And I played that till I wore that thing out. But I just loved the sound of what she made me feel.

Speaker And when was the first time you ever heard her live in Basin Street?

Speaker No, it was either Basses sheet or Decca Records. I think it was Bass and Street on Broadway, but I heard her live. But, you know, it's it's it's hard to say. Might have been, Jack, because I did work for Decca Records when Cy Oliver was arranging for Ella before she went to Verve, her own company.

Speaker And when you heard her life, what about her singing? Her style was already in place. Then what aspects of her style?

Speaker Well, the thing I think that knocked me out about Ella always, and she never changed over the years. She might have won a more expensive dress or more elaborate jewelry, but she never changed in her presentation. She always came out on a stage and made everybody know that she loved what she was doing for them. She was passionate about the performances. She was spiritual. She was happy. And it went right to the audience. You can't fool an audience. You know, an audience is very aware of what what the audience feels. Don't you think so?

Speaker Yes. Do you think that she got.

Speaker More from the audience than she did from fellow musicians. It was that.

Speaker No, it had it had to be a combination because again, that is also something that all entertainers feel. They feel vibrations from their audience. They their audience transmits a message. We like you. We dig you. Whatever. So Ella got that. But she also got great support for her musicians. And Ella was very spiritual.

Speaker She she prayed. And she was hoping when she opened her mouth that something would come out and she'd get very disturbed with herself when she would remember her lyrics until she got to a point where she recognized that people loved when she didn't remember the lyrics and she'd scat. I think she got as much from the audience as that as an artist can get. But of course, her bloodline was her musicians.

Speaker What does that mean?

Speaker Well, her bloodline was the musicians because without them, I think she would fall flat on their face. She they fed her course. Ella used her voice like an instrument. She was like a member of the band. She never you know, most of the time you think about a vocalist doing her thing and the band kind of accompanying them. But Ella enjoyed it the most. Like, if you listen to a solo of hers, a lady be good or how high the moon that people claim great masterpieces. You'll know that she's contributing to the whole presentation like she's a member of the orchestra. She imitates a bass. She imitates a trumpet. And so I feel that that that gives her the energy and and the spirit to perform.

Speaker Even so, during her years at Decca, there were many occasions when she recorded things that people thought were kind of inferior. So not such great musicians. Did she ever talk about that?

Speaker No, I don't think that she thought there was any such thing as bad music. I mean, I had I lived to whine about. About something. I think we were talking about two songs I hate. I said I hate Total Llama. You know that. Don't look so sad. Yes. So why do you hate it? There's some people who take that kind of music. I mean, we might not like it, but when she was at Decca, remember, she was just starting. She wasn't in a position to select anything she wished. And and in in addition to the fact that Milt Gabler and Cy Oliver, who were directly responsible for what she recorded and who she recorded with. They had to show the guys upstairs profits. So if they cut corners, possibly by not getting the quality of musicianship that Ella really should have had, Ella had nothing to do with that. She she did. You know, she respected and loved Milt and she loved Cy. And they gave us something to do. She do it. And I always felt she could sing the telephone book and make, you know, gave it did try to do specific things for Ella.

Speaker Oh, yes, absolutely. Some of them were really quite remarkable. I'm thinking, well, he was the first one who brought her together with Louis Armstrong. That's right. Were you part of that?

Speaker Well, I worked at Decca Records and I was my I had a glorified position of sharpening pencils and handing out music. I mean, I guess I was I just kind of filled in spaces where things had to be done. And I was so starstruck with these people. I just adored them. Just the fact that I could be in there in their presence was was thrilling to me. And I would say that Louis and Ella had a rapport that ham and eggs, you know, the pie Ella mode was just too good.

Speaker Delicious ingredients that just blended. He adored her and she adored him. In fact, the sad part of it was that Ella could not sing at Lewis funeral because she was asked to sing the Lord's Prayer, but she was too emotionally involved. When Louis passed and she came to the funeral, but she said to Peggy, Peggy Lee was there, you're going to have to do this because I can't make it. And, you know, she was that emotionally involved. She flew in from Detroit or Chicago to Louie's funeral and she couldn't sing.

Speaker We were there. Yes. Yes, I was. I didn't know that Mrs..

Speaker No, she sang at Duke Ellington's funeral. I've been around to a lot of funerals, but I do. I know some people still living. Oh, Ella, Ella and Louis, were they were they recorded together for Verve and at Ali's house and her garden? You'd think she was preparing a wedding or a bar mitzvah because she had to get a wonderful iced tea made in southern fried chicken and all kinds of goodies because she knew Louis loved eating, you know, and she loved being hospitable. So she really prepared up a storm. And Oscar Peterson was their pianist when they recorded together for Norman Grants. That was many years later.

Speaker What was that like in the studio?

Speaker Well, work or no, it was it when you're when you love what you're doing.

Speaker Do you consider it work? Well, that's what it was for them their whole life. Louie's whole life was performance. See, Lucille Armstrong told me when he proposed to me, Phoebe, he said, remember my horn and my music come first. I love you, but that comes first. And that's what life was like for Ella. Her whole life was singing. Now, you know, all the time that she was ill and she had a toe amputated and then a leg amputated when singing was something she wanted to do. I always passionately involved with the performances. So life in the studio always me. And that was the work. That was playground time. Cause they would you could you could swap jokes with the musicians. You could catch up on old news of what's happening in Europe or New York. You know, it was that time where you got together. There wasn't really work for them.

Speaker It was play you just listening to what Ella said that and when she got married.

Speaker Look, singers had such a hard one. First of all, Ella, when Ella married Ray Brown, you know, Ray Brown is very much the man. And Ella was very much a woman. She was very feminine, very girlish. She never, ever I've seen how I saw her with a lot of male said she was attracted to were attracted to her. She was never the big star. She never she might have secretly or delicately bought you an elaborate gift if you were she was in love with you or involved with you. But she never pushed Ella Fitzgerald, the star. Never. So I don't think she came to a point where she was going to get married. She would never tell that to a man.

Speaker But that, in fact, was what would happen.

Speaker Oh, yes, that would happen. I would think so. On this one man could consume so completely that she'd give it up. I have never worked with a girl singer that could give everything up for a man. I know that Sarah was in love with Weyman when she married him. He was a trumpet player from Cap AC. Peggy Lee was in love with Dave Barber, but they had this whatever this passion was for what they were doing and they felt they could combine it. And these guys were of the world where they want their wife home or they weren't taking care of the child or some such thing.

Speaker I don't imagine that would have given everything up for a man now, but that's only my opinion.

Speaker What was her most successful relationship on that one with men?

Speaker Romantic. The one that I know of.

Speaker I don't feel like I can give you his name because he was a doctor. He was married. She met a man in Washington, D.C. at the at a bar in the 50s, I guess, or early 60s. And she got struck up an acquaintance with them. She always traveled with Pete Kervella, who was a road manager and a divine gentleman, and they'd have, you know, hours drink was seven up or maybe a beer occasionally, depending on what kind of a diet she was on. And she got into a conversation with the bartender. She was upstairs at the hotel and have too many nights of coming in and out. What she found out that he was going to medical school and this was a job that was helping to put him through medical school. And whatever arrangement she had at that particular time, nobody knew of it. But many years later, she was at the Shoreham Hotel and she was stricken with a heart attack and she was rushed to a hospital. And this was that says is that where she was operated on? I don't remember the hospital, but I know that Pete told me when she was on the gurney being wheeled into the operating room, who rushed over to be off the side of the gurney was her doctor friend who was already a doctor. This was fifteen years later or ten years later. He's a pediatrician, and he heard on the speaker that Ella Fitzgerald was an emergency patient and they struck up their relationship again. So until Ella left this world, this gentleman and she had a wonderful relationship. He would visit the house. She would they met knowing when when she went abroad, whatever. They had a beautiful relationship. And he was and he told me the story of how we would have never made it from Ella, never told me anything. He said, Phoebe, I would have never made it to medical school if Ella Fitzgerald didn't help me. He said it. And and I've given her everything I gave her. And I wanted to marry her many times. I offered to and she she said it wouldn't be fair and it wouldn't be right because she wasn't ready to give up what she chose.

Speaker Amazing story. Yes. And now there's another thing.

Speaker Oh, I heard different versions of her Apollo appearance. What did she tell you?

Speaker I heard so many theories like Louis. I heard so many different versions of life. Things that happened is like she told me that she was all set to dance when she went to the amateur contest, but she got scared and they pushed her out. And she had loved this song or some other used to play Connie Boswell, the object of my affection. Am I right? And she sang the song and won and won the amateur contest. And from that, she was hired. Which given a week's work or two weeks work to remember what. And then she worked up at Yale and some kind of gig. And Chick Webb was there and he offered her an opportunity to come with with his band. I think she said she was 15 and a half or 16 years old at the time. That's what I've heard from her. Other people have told me other stories, but I don't know which is which is the facts.

Speaker That brings us to Chick Webb. No one else seems to have had a lot of, like, father figures in her life.

Speaker Chick Webb being probably the first part from her family.

Speaker Did she talk about him? Oh, yes. She liked Chick very much. But you see, you have to understand that you would have mothered Ella if you met her. She had a quality of a little girl. She didn't have the quality of a woman that knew what to do would how to do everything. She never had a kind of a self-confident awareness of herself.

Speaker So that I think most men, if they did it, they didn't have the father image. She inspired in him and instead instilled in them the desire to want to do something for her. She had that quality of a little girl, giggly, kind of naive about things and never bored. I mean, she could sit in the Waldorf Towers and have pheasant under glass and talk about the Chinese restaurant. I mean, she she was an unspoiled. She she never lost her enthusiasm for things. So I think the men in her lives became father figures because of what she stimulated in them. Does that make any sense?

Speaker Know, I didn't see that that protective.

Speaker Yes. Yes. Course that Norman Granz took over. I mean, and I'm sorry. Pete Cavallo. But Tommy Flanagan, a pianist. Or Paul Smith. It was like Fitz was. They used to call her Fitz. That was their nickname for her. They you know, they just want to feel they wanted to do something for her.

Speaker I've heard it.

Speaker I mean, I know I know a woman in Elliot's position might attract some unworthy types, I'm sure.

Speaker And that's her circle around her would protect her that.

Speaker Well, yes, this is true not only of Eliot. It's true of anybody in the performing arts. You can try to get to Tony Bennett through his son. No secretaries or whatever. I mean, they perform anybody in the public eye and they don't even know where to submit. I remember once a gentleman said to me he's been trying to reach Ella Fitzgerald and he's written Ernie's called and he's left messages. So I took all the information. And when I saw Ella, I talked to her about it. She said, I never heard a word. Nobody told me anything. So I guess it's typical of Favish people being protected. This was the time they were doing a march on Washington. And we that comedian that was involved with Robert Kennedy. Do you know the march I'm talking about, you saw was a black man.

Speaker It was a black man. A black comic. Oh, God. No, not Godfrey Cambridge. Anyway, this gentleman was from Detroit or Chicago. And he had been trying to reach Ella Fitzgerald to ask her to go into the march on Washington, which I think Sammy Davis Junior did. And Sidney Poitier and Lena Horne. And they were all trying to reach her. So simultaneously to her coming in to perform at Base and Street East.

Speaker They reached out to Ralph Watkins, the proprietor, and said, would you please make certain that Miss Fitzgerald gets this message? So naturally, he transmitted to me because I had more contact with her than.

Speaker They did, and I got all the information about the march on Washington. And I used ELA, would she you know why she hasn't answered this? She said she knew nothing about it. If they reached Mary Jane in her office in California or Norman Grants for everybody protected her. Nobody told her a word. So I said, well, are you going to do the march on Washington? She said, no. I said, why wouldn't you march on Washington? She said, to do you do what do you mean for Israel? Would you march for Israel? I said, I don't march. I make a contribution. I'll sing a song for them. I'll help raise money, but my feet hurt. And I'm not much but that she loves the man that was involved with the march. And she certainly respected Sammy Davis Junior. No, Robert Kennedy. You know how she felt about her presidents and the Kennedy family. But she never got the message, which is typical.

Speaker But she was political.

Speaker Oh, yes. She loved Kennedy. Oh, yes. And she was she was very involved with the Kennedys. And Sinatra also influenced her because she felt that what she admired most about Frank Sinatra was his professionalism, which is like a fine musician, anybody that did their job very well. Ella found stimulating.

Speaker But I understand that she was very fond of Martin Luther King.

Speaker Oh, yes. Oh, yeah. Hi. I respected him very much. Absolutely. Met him. Muhammad Ali. Well, there were many people of her race that she had a great adoration. But I think Ellis thought Ella didn't sing color. I never got the feeling that she thought color. Ellis thought about people for what they represented because I seen her be rude to some black musicians who were either being demanding or pasta or not performing properly. So I never got the feeling that her being involved with some of these black figures was because they were black.

Speaker It was because of what they did well. She admired what they did. She admired what they stood for. And she was always very, very caring about anything when the white situation started. That's when she decided that she's got to do something about it. Started a day nursery. She was very, very caring about what happened to people and what happened to children. Children with the. Oh, she just loved children. She really did. Her little granddaughter, Alice. She just adored her story. Well, I was in California. And, of course, the beautiful part of my relationship with Ella is that I became her friend over the years. And to me, a friend is somebody who could cry with somebody who invites you to their home, someone you share a quality time with, like a soap opera or a baseball game.

Speaker So Ella said, come on up. I was at my son's house. They came up staying with our few days and she said, You've got to help me. I'm making a birthday party for Alice. Now, what do you make for a five year old? I don't know. First we went to Robinson's. It was strange. We bought all kinds of gifts and I said, no, don't buy too many clothes. Kids grow feathers and whatever. Or she bought like child little dolls and or little lace pants and and socks with ribbons on them. And she was just like she was dressing a doll and she was enjoying. I don't know if my granddaughter is going to love this, but I love every minute of it. And we had every present packed separately. And she said, well, if we're making this party well, how do you make the party for five year old? I said, well, I took a course set. My grandson was going to UCLA and she knew women liked him. And I haven't come over and make sodas for the kids. And we'll get. Let me see if I get a clown. So because I live in New York, I know where to get a cloud in New York and California. But I got saw a neighbor of ours had two little boys playing on there in the backyard. And I said, Della, can I go over to the lady with you? No, she's not at all cool around the phone. So I called this Judy, and she gave me the name of a man that put it plans children's parties. And we got the clown and we got balloons and. Oh, my, she just went into Ecstasy's about everything. And then when Alice and all the friends came to the party was Alice lived in Seattle at that time. She came to stay with grandma and she said to her, to Ella, can I sing you a song? And Ella said, Sure, do you want couldn't sing. She says, What? And she sang, How You Are My Sunshine. Well, I don't think I've ever seen Ella is touched in her life as this little child singing You Are My Sunshine. And she took her. Ella was not a thing. She didn't you know, it didn't matter. That was her grandma.

Speaker You lost everything I wrote.

Speaker Oh, yes, dear. No, sir. Semiannual in engagement's a basement street is to New York. We were leaving the club one night and she looked at a watch and she said, You can wish you a happy birthday. Well, I said, Happy birthday, Ella. I said, you're going to have a party. I mean, I thought somebody could be taking about a plan. So she says, no, no, not. I said, what is the nicest party you've ever had? When did you have a real good birthday party? She said, I really haven't had one. She said, because anytime I'm someplace I don't know enough people to invite their own people who know me or know it's my birthday. So I guess I don't really remember having one. I'm sure she must have had birthday parties. We discussed the other day, but I when we said goodbye, good night, I called my boys, Ralph Watkins and it was like two thirty you at 3:00 in the morning, said Ralph itself was birthday. He says, I wish you a happy birthday. Send her flowers. Why do you bother? It's what we've got to do. Something you said. Do anything you want. Well, that was dangerous for me because I proceeded at that time to get in touch with all the concierge is in the hotels in the area, Waldorf Astoria, Lexington, etc., etc.. And I knew the most exciting thing for Ella would be a baseball player. She had a crush on Mickey Mantle. And if I could get Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, that would have been the greatest birthday ever. So I proceeded. I got in the office at nine and went to the hotels. Is the concierge is what the you got here? And I proceeded to call everybody to say we're having a surprise birthday party for Ella Fitzgerald. Will you come five o'clock and base the street east at Mickey Mantle? Robert Kennedy, who was staying at the Waldorf Towers. I had Johnny Hartman, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman. I can't even I can't. It's easier to tell you wasn't there and nor did I get her there at five o'clock. I had I went to her. Well, together, I said that we were doing a television show in the club and she was very fidgety. I told it he just up and she got very annoyed with me and. And what you have the limousine for? We could have gotten a cab, you know. We went to that club and I had a red carpet out on the street.

Speaker She said, what's this all about? I said, well, a television station thought it was because I had a television camera taking that picture of her walking in the room was in darkness. And when she walked in, when the lights went out and I just stood there and she left and then she took her pocketbook.

Speaker But she she just didn't know who to greet first. And of course, the most exciting thing was Mickey Mantle coming over to me and saying, I understand you're the lady that invited me. You got to get me Ella Fitzgerald's autograph and I must meet her. I said, if I don't bring you over to Ella Fitzgerald, she's going to strangle me.

Speaker And she was like a little girl. And she sat and talked to Mickey and she cut she criticizes some of his playing. She was a great enthusiast of baseball and she really knew her baseball. So they sat and talked and then do Glinton was there with her and and, you know, and then she got up and signaled it. She had a singing around birthday. She wouldn't just let anybody up when she was just happy. It was really it was an hour of quality time. You know, it was the kind of thing that you kinda like a squirrel berries is nuts for the winter. You put that in your memory bag and you say you never want to forget it. It was that thrilling.

Speaker It must have been a funny scene. It's terrible telling Mickey Mantle.

Speaker What was that like? Well, she had some ideas and you got style.

Speaker You know, she just said no. It was as if she said, well, if I was up at that bay base, I would a dead, dead, dead. You know, it would be like I'm telling her, had it in a note. But he just obviously your daughter. So he left it at it. It's I think somewhat in the ballpark is flattered when a bystander or a fan couldn't be that technical. They know every move. And I think that's what it was with him. He knew she was genuine. So he accepted whatever she had to say. And I only eavesdropped while. But it seemed that they left with a very good relationship. I know she had a wonderful relationship with Jackie Robinson, too. She just loved him. And she loved soap operas and she loved to watch mysteries. And of course, as a kid, she told me she was a soap opera fan radio. Oh, my. One time I spoke to her and I asked how she was doing what's happening. She said, Oh, Widow Brown. Oh, God, I'm a wreck. I said, Who is Willow Brown? I never knew that was such a person anymore. Is Widow Brown on a soap opera where she had a big problem with a daughter and it was very unhappy about it.

Speaker He chose to overlook and he said, a friend is someone you can cry over. Yes. When you've cried. What did you cry about?

Speaker I think the first time I learned I really cried is when her sister died, when the person that they said was her sister. Whenever I got a telephone call from Philadelphia, from a hospital and she was on stage that Miss Fitzgerald's sister passed. And I waited for her to come, Wolf, naturally. And I said to her, Ella, and I told her the news and I never touched Ella, you know, so I really didn't know out. I wanted to take her in my arms and comfort her, but she never encouraged that kind of thing. And so I said, but if you need any company to go to Philadelphia, you no, just let me know. And I walked out of the dressing room. Then she sent for me a couple of minutes later and she said, I decided there were children that have to be taken care of and educated. I got to go out there and work, find out the funeral chapel and whatever, and I'll take care of everything. And then she started to cry. And then I. I reached out and I just took her hands and she squeeze my hand. It kind of then encouraged me a little bit. So I, I hugged her. And of course, I shared those moments of tears with her. And then she got herself together very quickly, like she was out for the count to six. And she got up and she said, well, you know, that whole thing, the show's gotta go on. I've got to go out there and sing so I can take care of those kids. And I think there were the five kids that she got involved with, her nieces and. A few that lived with her and she made weddings and she sent him to school. And then, of course, we cried at all Lean's funeral and we cried. We shared many things in our life that we both cared about. And she was there for me when when my husband was ill. She was there for me. She'd call me to comfort me. And I couldn't consider it. I felt always blessed to have a friend like that that cared enough. It wasn't what she couldn't get from me. It was what she could give me and give me of herself, which is a very, very blessed thing to have happen, because with her, it was genuine for you.

Speaker Generous with her family?

Speaker Oh, yes. Yes, she was. She loved family. She did. Because I think she was raised by a grandmother and an aunt. And I get that. I seem to think that in the end, the black people that I've known, anybody that they feel real close to becomes derogative. They adopt them. Lucille Armstrong told me that. She said Louis has more cousins than you can count on your head because if he likes somebody, they become a cousin. So Ella had a lot of cousins, but she was always very caring to her family. And she give family members jobs or people. She gave jobs that she, like, became a family member. I don't know what came first, but she was generous. Very caring. Mm hmm.

Speaker Do they how do they show their appreciation for that? I don't know.

Speaker I really don't know. I couldn't tell you. She didn't need them to do anything for her.

Speaker So what they might have done is possibly.

Speaker But I don't know if anybody was there when she needed them. I couldn't tell you. So I don't know if they showed their appreciation. But this is not fair because I wasn't around. See, I know that Mary Jane Atwater, who worked with Ella and Norman Greer's for 30 some odd years, she she was very loyal, caring and giving to Ella Fitzgerald. She ran, in fact, at Ellis funeral. Ray Ellis son in his eulogy mentioned Mary Jane. And the fact that she was caring. And they're hiring nurses and overseeing the doctors and the running of the household. And Elitch trusted her completely. Same thing with Margaret, who was Mary Jane's assistant.

Speaker It was a very closely knit little group. And they all protected Ella, I'm sure right now, if, you know, if you try to reach out to Norman Grant. She's got I've got a fortress around him. There was a fiercely secretive. It was. I used to kill her about it a lot of times because if she was away somewhere, I'd have to go through three or four place people before I could get to her. So they were always very protective, maybe because she just gave people money and said yes to things without really thinking too much about it. And they wanted more control. I don't know what the reason was, but I do know that they these when I said to Mary Jane, you know, as soon as called me, they want to do a now on Ella Fitzgerald and my go to the house. And I said, Susan Robson is doing it. She's poor options, grand do it. And I know Ella would adore her. She's dying. She will. Look, we don't want to get her, Bob, and we don't want television at that. Amanda didn't even know anything about it. They wouldn't even allow it to me. She wasn't an idiot. She can make her own decisions. But Mary Jane couldn't do it until she spoke to Mr Grant said Mr Grant's decided what he's what was best for her. And when you think of how he developed a career and what he did for her as an artist, who's to argue for how he was protecting her. Now, I. I finally got them to agree to allow Susan Robson to do the interview. It's magnificent. They only use 12 minutes of it and they got about an hour on tape. And that's owned by. Yes.

Speaker I don't know if you're aware of the footage Norman known was.

Speaker Extraordinarily important in her life in terms of her career. And I think in her personal life, too. But some of the things you said lead me to think that was it all it was interests to protect her so much. Or maybe.

Speaker Well, let's back up to really give you the right answer. I got to do a detour. Ella Fitzgerald was a black signature singer. There to a lot of good black Jesus singers around Carmen McCrae's zero for one Selma cop and check of a lot of them.

Speaker Norman Grant took Ella Fitzgerald and handled her like a precious jewel. He developed contacts for her and exposed her in areas where he was very discriminating.

Speaker Just his song books that he put together fell off Fitzgerald are exquisite. That is so is part of American history. Norman is a man of very good taste and he genuinely cared about Ella. I remember him calling from Paris when Ella had some problem with her eyes. I mean, he was there was he could take her to the best man in the world. He wouldn't leave her side. He was protective and caring and had good taste. Now, how many of the things that he did was selfish? Maybe when he got involved with Picasso because he wanted some paintings because he didn't get. He was a Picasso collector. And, you know, Picasso was an Ella Fitzgerald fan or maybe when she worked with Grace Kelly at Monaco, maybe that was kind of fun for Norman. But basically, Norman gave Ella a lot of richness, a lot of loyalty when he felt that her house was something that wasn't fitting for her anymore. She outgrew it. He just went and bought another house and told Ella where she was gonna move. And it was usually a great improvement. I mean, her last house here is just exquisite. The pool, the guest quarters. There's everything about it. It's just magnificent. And Ella really liked it. Of course, it was just like Louis with Joe Glazer. He'd say, don't tell him I'm going to eat because I want to go where I want to go now. Joe didn't want Louis to eat soul food because it was too spicy. Well, Norman might not want Ella to do something that he felt was right for her. It was that protective. And I think when you have that's what happens in show business. Now, Benny Goodman wasn't like that. Benny Goodman made up his own mind about everything. Nobody told Benny where to go. He handled himself. He had a very good lady with him, but generally in show business. The artist is so busy with their performances and so forth. They're not they're not good business people. They don't really know what they're getting involved in. So I would say to your question, yes, he did do a lot to benefit Ella and himself. She made him a millionaire.

Speaker You just mentioned something on compactly.

Speaker Earlier, you were talking about rebounds, you mentioned rebounds, and at the time, this was her sister's trial.

Speaker That's what they say.

Speaker Oh, you think that's true?

Speaker I haven't seen papers to show me that it was true. And whoever told me I didn't know how authoritative they were, Margaret told me she thought Mary Jane and I spent a lot of time together. She wasn't too sure.

Speaker So I don't know. Where did you hear it? I read it. I heard it was long time. Yes.

Speaker But, you know, I mean, been part of people's lives that that have been written about many experiences that I have personally shared with people. And then I see it writing that in the third or fourth party has taken it. I don't recognize it. I was there because they take the facts and they twist them or they think they remember what was said. So I'm not sure whether that. But Ray Brown was adored by Ella. She loved him. And she always was very sad that she couldn't give him the time that she would have liked to have.

Speaker Did she ever talk with you about why she didn't have a room? She couldn't. Oh, I didn't know. That's when she said she told me she couldn't have any children. So I never asked why.

Speaker Oh, I just wanted to get back to a few other fathers. De Villepin.

Speaker What was that? Well, I get the feeling that L.O. is really in love with Duke. She not only loved them, she was in love with him, you know, because he would treat her like she was the most sensuous, wonderful, you know. He just adored her. And they had a musically fantastic effect. If he wrote a song, it was his dream fellow to sing it. And this was true of many music men. I mean, Benny Goodman thought there was nobody in the world that could sing like Ella Fitzgerald. I mean, he just he just adored her. And Duke relished an opportunity to work with Ella. And when his song came out of her mouth, that's the way he wanted to hear it sung. And she loved him. And they they I just saw a film clip of Ella and Duke and Ella singing Lady be good, you know. You know, the film clip and the way he looks over his shoulder is playing the piano and he looks over his shoulder.

Speaker And, you know, you say, oh, honey, you are a knockout chick. He's really enjoy over the edge. And she's just loving every minute of them. They really care about each other enormously. They see was another one. Oh, yes. Yes, she did. But you see, Karen Bass, he wasn't a romantic figure to Ella. She loved him musically. She loved him as a human being. And I remember when they came back from Spain, Ella and Duke, and I said to Ella, tell me how was it was wonderful. Except she said it was unbelievable. Phoebe, you wouldn't you know, we were supposed to go to the theater. She said, but there was such a demand for tickets in Madrid that we had to go outside to a bullfighting ring ring. And after the we got through with our performance, the crowd rushed at us and they picked us up on their shoulders and carried us around and kept yelling, olé au lait. And you kept saying, Go for it, baby. She said, they love Duke. They loved her as well. But she was just so full of humility and that. Oh, she. I've never experienced anything like that. You've seen that all over Europe. They just wouldn't tear it up because they they had that rapport, you know, that very sensational thing making you have to rehearse. He could fit into anything she did. And basically. Oh, same thing. Same thing with base. Yes, she did. Musically, Basey was tops for her. Just because I've never seen. I don't think I remember seeing Ella working with Basic. I know another music person. Oh, yes, I did. When we went on the cruise when Duke Ellington died, they had the first Holland American line, had the first jazz cruise in the history of cruising. It's easier to tell you who wasn't there. Ray Charles, the Duke Ellington Orchestra with Mercer, Count Basie, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, you know, people like that. And it was Ella's birthday. We made her a Mrs. Armstrong made her a birthday party on this ship. We will go all go down. She was going to Bermuda to do the IBM convention with the Ellington band. And then IBM decided that if if Ella is going to be there and the band, even though Duke died, they'd go through with the convention and the entertainment. And on the ship, she worked with the Basey and Oscar Peterson. Oh, she adored Oscar. He called her Fitzy and she just loved every minute of it. She loved his taste and he handled her very gently and caring. He was another one that acted like Big Brother now. And he's a man of exquisite taste. I don't know if you know him. Just very special fact. I think I told you a story about Ella calling me from California to get over to. Or one of the auction houses to bid on a watch. They were selling.

Speaker They seized a jewelry counter. Facey and Katherine bases jewelry. One of the auction houses. And it seemed that Oscar Peterson had given account base your watch and it was engraved. So I believe it was a mellado. I mean, maybe it's not important, but she asked me and I said, well, how much do I bid for it? You know, two. What one? I don't care. Just get it. So she got that watch and she wanted that. I don't know. I think she gave it back to us. I'm not sure what she did with it, but she wanted that watch. So she thought about little things like that.

Speaker You also too amused. Visiting Ellen in California up.

Speaker Oh, yes, I visited Ella and she wanted me to stay with her. I said no. My daughter was living in Westlake Village and my grandchildren were coming. And I said, I can't come by tomorrow because all the kids are going home. She said, bring them all over. I'll get some stuff from Willie, tell them to bring their suits and go in the pool. So she lived in this house with a circular driveway. And as we pull the car in to get into Ella's house, there's a big truck there, a bus and of course, the bus, the campaign to get to a barn. I walk in and there's all the guys from the car. But she said, I thought it would be nice to do something for you. She said, no, leave her for Japan. So it's perfect. So she was making them eggs and all the guys would go up was just gorgeous. But she was that in her home. It was that kind of thing. You know, it was just full of life and love. And there were so many mementos around, like a gorgeous painting that Tony Bennett did offer, which she cherished and had over her piano and all these wonderful records that she collected of other people. Because when I say they I wanted to play some of her new albums or something and I said, where's your record? She says, well, who wants to hear me? She wanted everybody a little easier.

Speaker Fathers and mentors. What did she do? Confidence. Did she meet people like that?

Speaker I don't think Ella really ever wanted to grow up. That's my feeling. My humble opinion is that she enjoyed feeling like a child, enjoyed feeling that she is stimulated in someone a need for attention or a need for caring or guidance. Again, that's only my opinion. I never thought about her as being that self sufficient and that sure of herself reflected in what she'd say when she came off the stage. She played Radio City Music Hall. There were 5000 people. She came off the stage and said, Did you see that? I forgot all the words in that song. And I was off key. I mean, she never really would say cheap. I did that beautifully. Hoy enjoyed that. She never even wanted to listen to her own recordings. I mean, she was always worried that she didn't sound the way she would have liked to have sounded. But this is also true of great people. They always feel that they want to do better. And I think it's that kind of thing that makes you childlike because you are truly a grownup about yourself. If you had some good self-esteem, you wouldn't have the need for all these people to father you and big brother you when again, it's only what I think. But. Yes. Oh, yes. Well, the point is, I don't think many people that come to hear an artist or enjoy an artist recognized that there is some wonderful human sensitive qualities in these ideas that make them so special. And all these things we're talking about regarding Ella that I was fortunate enough to share and observe may her, the wonderful artist that she was, made her that sensitive and caring.

Speaker You said earlier. Yes, sir. Oh, no. You said earlier, though, that could be rude to you.

Speaker Well, I'll tell. I'll I'll only tell you some of the things she did to me. I made a friend with a lady by the name of Norman Mailer, who I think I referred you to, who used to play Pineapple and Hot with Ella in the old days when Ella sang Saveloy on whatnot. And now I'm always over at my house, came in from Vegas. We're sitting round. She said, Oh, call Ella. I'd love to talk to her. I said, OK. So I pick up the phone and I called Ella. How I. Ella. This is Phoebe. Why do you want.

Speaker I said, okay. You don't feel like talking, right? She says, you got it. Bang. And she might call a day or two later like nothing happened. She you know, she. There was no reason for her to say she was sorry. She just didn't feel like talking at all. And she could do that also with people that came in to the dressing room or made demands on how you stand here or do this. So we want you know, she she would be very sensitive about not being spoken to properly and not being treated. Or if she observed someone else in her presence being abused, this would make her angry across as she can get very happy and cut you right off. Yes, she could. I wouldn't say she was cruel, but she was just very critical about what was going on. And there was certain kind of behavior that that she felt she rated and she should have it looked like just being simple and polite. And again, if you might speak to her, the lady that was helping her with with wigs or dresses or whatever, and you might tell go get that I do this. And she said, wait a minute, I want you not to say please or, you know, in other words, she would be right on top of a situation to make certain that was comfortable for everybody that was around her. Yes, I think so. I think she's very caring, showed a lot of care because a lot of people are so into themselves, they don't even hear what's going on around them.

Speaker She was very touchy about journalists in interviews.

Speaker Well, let me tell you something. You had to have my kind of a job to understand that this was not an idiosyncrasy of an artist. She wasn't temperamental. Some of these people come and ask you questions that are embarrassing. If you're going to an artist of a certain stature, read up about it.

Speaker Do your homework. I could tell a story about Off a girl. But The New York Times, who is first assignment to do a music review when you first started to work at the Times is an entertainment reporter or something came in when Eric Garner was performing at Basant Street and he asked Earl Garner who his piano teacher was now. Ella Fitzgerald happened to be there. She loved Daryl. She said, well, what is wrong with these people? Everybody knows that Erol never took a lesson. That's one of the exciting things about him. That is when natural pianist or whatever, whatever. So make me so Ella would get very, very irritable. Also, one night she wants to go over to hear Oscar Peterson, who was performing at the Embers. That was another club of Mr. Watkins. And we went in there and we used to love the ribs. So we ordered the ribs. And we're listening to Harold doing Honeysuckle Rose. It was way in which women were enjoying.

Speaker When somebody comes over with a microphone and wants to have her say a couple words. Well, she was just so irate.

Speaker But I didn't allow her to say anything. I just said, if you don't mind, would you please excuse me? That was that didn't take about five or ten minutes. A man comes over with a piece of paper and a pen for an autograph. So, again, you know, she she got very disturbed about this, justifiably. We all just came. We. So she asked me to get the food wrapped up in my hotel to eat it. And I just listened to it.

Speaker So you have to be part of their life and see what goes on to recognize that it wasn't that she disliked journalists. Course, I did set up some wonderful interviews for her where she was very comfortable. But people could ask the stupidest questions, not know anything about you, not know where you were born, where you came. Now, if you're going to interview a star of Ella Fitzgerald's classification, you should know. I mean, don't you agree? So I don't want to infer that Ella was rude to journalists or didn't like them. No, it was not that at all. She was impatient with somebody who wasn't doing their job properly. And she let them know.

Speaker Now, you just mentioned that that was fun. And ribs. Oh, should prefer of eating.

Speaker Oh, yes. Oh, she loved food. Absolutely. She loved anything that was good in life. When I say that, I mean, she loved beautiful perfume. She loved flowers. She loved furs. She loved to smell things and taste things and hear things. She was very sensitive and very developed in all areas. And even her fabrics on her clothes, she she was really tuned in to all the good things of living. And she herself must have had the largest collection of cookbooks of any any person, person and performing arts. I think she had 400 cookbooks for 500 because they auction them off in California. She loved she loved to collect shows he wished she could cook. And when I came to see her at the world of Stories, she was performing at the Empire Room and she came down. So I said she said, don't send me flowers, bring me some of that chicken stuff, because I used to make her a little chicken, old fashioned chicken fricassee. And a little groats with it and choose to love that. So I suggest staying at the Waldorf Towers. You're going to have to undergo ethics. But you like that home cooking stuff. She loved that. And she loved her food that she did. And our desserts and our ice cream so that when she got her diabetes and she was restricted, it was hard. But she had knocked her weight off and she was fantastic. Yeah. I think Ellen never drank to excess and she never smoked. Maybe we can just look a little sexy. She said once in a while she took a sip. But she was. She enjoyed everything about life. Now she really did.

Speaker Now, the number of illnesses in her eyes, her heart.

Speaker But she never slowed down work or her work. Why? You know why?

Speaker Well, I can say that she's not unique in that because I experienced it with many other artists. When you're passionately involved with what you have to do and you're dedicated to performing before people and they're sitting in an audience waiting for you, you get a certain vibration.

Speaker There's an energy. There is a stimulation that's irreplaceable. Now, I sat with Eubie Blake in a theater and he said, I think you ought to take me home. I don't feel good. And simultaneously that statement, someone announced him.

Speaker He shot up out of his seat. He was 92 years old. They got him up on the stage and he played the piano for ten minutes.

Speaker It seems that they're the adrenal gland seems to work. The head, you know, was so involved. There was such a love for what she had to do. She wondered. She was angry that she was working when she lost her second leg. She asked me to talk to Peggy Lee to see if they could do it. A children's album together, a Christmas album. And Peggy wanted to do it so it we could have arranged it at the house. You know, like Ella said, there's nothing wrong with my throat. I said, well, you're sick of it.

Speaker There's nothing wrong with my throat. So it's that all encompassing. It becomes insanity. Can you understand it? Yes. And that's that's why every time she got better when she worked, she got better.

Speaker How long from the time she had to stop wasn't until she died.

Speaker Well, she had to stop because Norman just refused to allow her to be booked. Now, she could have done things at her own home. No one she could have recorded. She could have done a TV children's show. She could have done many things. She was perfectly capable of doing it. But I would say it was about two years. Maybe three.

Speaker In your opinion, you would have been better off working?

Speaker She would've been happier for it. How could I tell you if she would've been better off? I would, knowing L.. I know that she would have been happier because that's all she really lived for was performing. That's what she cared about, making people happy. And, you know, and this was also true. May I tell you a story about Louis Armstrong? I remember going into Louie's dressing room one night and saying, Louis, Mr. Watkins said there'll be no third show tonight. And Louis said, Why? I said, because there were only 10 people in the audience. He said, well, if they came out to hear me, I'm going to give him a show. He said, not only am I going to give my show, but I don't want them to have a check. And Louis went out and he performed for those 10 people. And he picked up everybody's check and that was Ella. Ella would have done the same thing if you came to see her. She'd entertain you as if you were in Royal Albert Hall and she could be singing in a bar because that's what she would share. Such love and respect for her artistry and professional, not professionalism. Not that she felt she was that great. But if you thought that she had something to give you, she give you her all.

Speaker Now, you mentioned the PDB. There was a special relationship, right?

Speaker Yes. She was very special. And I really didn't know too much about it until the Kennedy Center was there, even though I was friends with these two ladies when the Kennedy Center Center old friends with them.

Speaker I know.

Speaker I know. Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald. The Kennedy Center was honoring Ella and they called me and asked me certain questions about things. I knew that these two ladies wanted to do something together. They wanted to do an album. And I also knew that Sarah want to do something with Ella. So Peggy and Ella flew to Washington together from Los Angeles. They had their offices rearrange that so they could and obviously was probably the only time in their lives that they could spend four or five hours together just talking.

Speaker And they both told me that that trip was just delicious. And of course, Peggy did. If you saw the film at all. The celebration was beautiful. And then she said, well, Ella and I talked about doing an album. You got to get working on this and get us an album together. So, Norman, I don't know, maybe you never. You said he never heard about it, but who knows? Never happened. But they did. They did. They did. They done each. Then, of course, it all started with Benny Goodman. Benny Goodman had a program called Swing into Spring. And I was doing freelance work at the time, working for Mr. Goodman. So I had to call musicians. I was a contractor and call performing Linus and so forth. And Benny says, look, if I'm going to do this program, I want my two favorite singers, Ella Fitzgerald. Have you seen that program swing into spring? There was magic. And these ladies had a time. They had a better time off camera. They love the same kind of music. They respected the same type of musicians. And they had a mutual admiration for one another. And of course, it was interesting for me to see the way Ella would watch Peggy doing. You know, I could just sing a swings or improvises cause I figured nobody could ever teach Ella what to do. But but Ella said that Peggy had an ability to swing that was totally different than hers because Ella thought about swinging like that instrument would wear. Peggy thought of it as a vocalist, would know if there's any difference, but she seemed to think so. Whatever it was, it came out pretty good when you saw it.

Speaker What other singers?

Speaker Well, I loved Sarah. I was travelling with Sarah again. I was doing a freelance job. May I tell you the story? And Sarah was the star with Mel Tormé and Charlie Barnett on a Newport Jazz Festival, the first one that took off around the country heretofore. Always been in the east. So serious, me and I discussed it discussion with my husband. And I said, OK, I would I would go with her to the opening concert, which was in Denver, Colorado.

Speaker The concert was under the auspices of George Wene. And I flew out there and met Sarah and everything seemed to be working out nicely and.

Speaker While sitting with Sarah and talking, I said to Sarah, what is your latest album? I haven't been keeping abreast of it because we have worked that closely together. I said I. I don't know of anything you've done for eight years. She says, I haven't had an album, Phoebe, in eight years. I said, Sarah, it's so hard to believe. She said, Well, that's it. Could you get me an album? So I said, Well, if you don't mind, I'll call our. Well, what does she got to do with it? I said, Well, I would like to call and I'll do it in front of you so you won't be uncomfortable about it. So I called Ella and I said, Hello, this is Phoebe. I'm calling you. I'm on the road with Sarah. Oh, she's the lucky one. I don't know how lucky he is, but I need your help. What is it? I said, you know, that Ella hasn't had Sarah has not an album in eight years.

Speaker So she said, oh, it's terrible. I said, would you mind terribly if I get in touch with Norman Grants and ask him if he would record Ella? Sarah and Ella said, of course. And make sure you tell him that I want to do an album with Sarah. So we got off the phone and Sarah was very touched and very grateful. So she said, now let's see what Norman says. I said, well, will you allow me to represent you? And she said, yes. And I proceeded to do so. And I'll spare you the details. But I got a three album deal and one of them was supposed to be with Ella, but it never happened. So Ella care very much procedure. Very much. She cared for Carmen. And one time when Ella was working a Bass Street east, we finish finish the show early and she said to me, hey, don't go home. Let's go see Deloris. She said, the Copacabana.

Speaker So, OK, we go over to see Della. And then from there we go to Camp Basses Club up and on. She loved Ella. She loved her. You know, she loved her church work. So there were ladies that she admired of the performing arts. And I'm sure many I'd forgotten. But she was very caring about the performing arts.

Speaker I want to be sure to get in this room. Let's do that now, OK? She wanted always she was very interested in other current artists.

Speaker Well, she not only was interested in what was happening in the performing arts for vocalizing, but she was even interested in the dancing. She said to me, my grandson was at UCLA and get him over here. I want him to teach me to hug Hawking Park or whatever dance was some stupid name. And I quote, set and had him come up with a couple of friends. She wanted to learn how to do this dance. So Ella was right on top of everything, whether it was hip hop or rap or whatever or all kinds of new kinds of music. She took Portuguese lessons when Stan Getz came over the house and played just a banana for her. And she was so enchanted with the music of South America and Rio. And she did an engagement in Rio. She hired a man to teach her Portuguese so she could sing it correctly. So she wanted to be on top of everything that was new and happening. I was visiting California and she called it was after Pete died and she said, how about come up to the house and then I have to go up to the wine country. Stay with me a couple of days. Well. I would love it. So I went up and we were going to the wine country and she was hired to do this special function for all the wineries in the Napa Valley. And it was during the day. It was Family Day was picnic style table roast chicken and baked beans and stuff. And Ella was right there with the crowd and enjoying the short, the short and bread and all the other stuff that they had to offer that was homestyle. And when she got up to sing, she asked the audience halfway through her show, Is there anything special you'd like to hear? And one kid yelled out, Rap. Well, right then in there, Ella proceeded to invent a song with talking about singing in the wine country. And, you know, she was very spontaneous about things like that. And after she got all through doing it and they she got this thunderous applause and recognition, she said to this kid, Now, look here, Sonny. She said, we been rapping a long time before you ever thought of that stuff. We don't call it that. And she went on to say, our rap has music. And as melody, I can't sing your rap because you follow what I did. So she was you know, she would get right involved with anything she could hear at once and she could take off on it. She was extremely talented. A fantastic ear.

Speaker Yes. Well, you know, I don't know how many people feel like she studied or rehearsed or whatever. No. I don't ever remember been warming up even when she had an operation on. She had some nodules or something removed. I don't like a horn player warms up or a it vocalizes. I don't remember hearing Ellie do that.

Speaker Oscar Peterson said that he thought Ella was a very lonely woman.

Speaker What do you think? I think she had moments of. Yes, I would say so.

Speaker I would say it's being a star and performing and one in hundreds of thousands of people and having all the glamour and excitement and then having to go face four walls by yourself. Yes. Ella had a need for male companionship, had a need for companionship. She didn't have a relationship with the people in her house like house employees giveaways. A lady that worked for her for years, her housekeeper, she had a friendly rapport. You know, she they'd share a soap opera or a ballgame or a television show. Yes, I would say cream is right. She was right. She was lonely. But that was a momentary loneliness because she'd fill it up with other things. She had a need for human companionship all the time. Ella was a people lover, even though she'd there were moments of her privacy. She loved people. And her son, Ray Brown Junior is a delightful gentleman. My daughter was telling me that he went she went to an honorary event that took place at the Museum of Television and Radio out in California recently that had been putting some things together, raise money for the diabetes diabetic thing that Alfred started or Richard. It started for Ella. The man that's in charge of her estate. And Ray got up to address the crowd and he was absolutely brilliant. She said it was just wonderful in his warmth and his speech. The same thing at the Smithsonian when I was down there when they gave Elvis memorabilia to the Smithsonian Institution. Ray made a speech to the audience and he's very tender, very caring. I could be very proud of it.

Speaker When was the last time you spoke? Well, we saw.

Speaker Oh, yes, it was in nineteen ninety five, ninety four.

Speaker I stayed at the house and the housekeeper was out and she was Sunday morning and she said, put on this raincoat over your nightgown, we're going out for breakfast. But she said, don't worry, I'm going to throw this on over my pajamas, put on a coat. And we got into a Rolls Royce and she drove her driver take us to McDonald's. And she told to bring us some Egg McMuffin and coffee in a car. And there we are sitting in milk in that parking lot of McDonald's. But she was just a natural. She was just delicious. She was she was wonderful. Just wonderful, because I did speak to her from time to time when I could get through and then I would send her things because she loved my crocheting and she loved my needlepoint. And I made her needlepoint pictures of her roses. And I made her these beautiful shawls, which she always traveled with. And but she didn't want to see anybody after. In fact, the office would keep everybody away as well. So I come by the house and drop something off. But I think that way some see, she died two years ago. Isn't it two years that she's gone? I would say it was about ninety five. Ninety ninety five.

Speaker So what the shelves brings something back to me. You've got a million to wigs, right?

Speaker Yes, I do. Well, she, you know, she would she'd get so upset about her nappy here and stuff. So I said, let's, you know, let's make a short shortcut, baby. Get with it. Let's try one. So I went out and I got her a wig and bought it. And we had the guy come in and Chima and oh, she loved it. She always thought it was too hot, but it was a shortcut, you know. And the same thing was she couldn't wear eyelashes, even though we tried many times to put her shoes on. What not Gucci perspired so profusely, but that was because of the energies that she would release when she was performing, she gave her all. It was no two ways about it. And then the lights and then smoky clubs. But she she always loved to look nice, always loved nice clothes. Stan Lauper used to do beautiful clothes for her, you know.

Speaker Oh yes. Oh, yeah. You can't pick one song that says you.

Speaker What would it be? Would to be lady be good or a mile high on the moon?

Speaker Because she was she was freer singing those songs. It was at a time where everything was very loose. She was performing. She was the rage orchestrations were her recordings, which is wonderful because everything she did is wonderful to me. But having viewed that little film clip of Lady Be Good with her and Duke on that television show. I never realized it happened 20 some odd years ago. It's as fresh as it was done yesterday. And she's so happy doing it. That's also what makes it favorite of mine. I'm seeing the pleasure she gets. I'm doing it. And the pleasure Duke is getting out of accompanying her.

Speaker This last question there was a funeral is private.

Speaker Yes, L'Arche Furo, which private? I flew out for the funeral. And I will say that her son arranged the entire funeral. And he did an exquisite job. And I know it wasn't easy for him. He put her remains under her favorite tree where she made Alliss birthday party. And he had some musicians there. And the only person that he allowed to do anything form of a speech was key to better bassist and key to beds played pool butterfly. And compared to Ella Fitzgerald to a butterfly that touched every musician and transmitted and pollinated every other musician with her spirit. That's what she left for always. Yellow roses, blanket of yellow roses, which was her another's favorite of hers. And in the audience or the guests that arrived were Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Diana Usher, Natalie Cole. There was every artist that you could possibly think of came just to pay their respects. The police were all around the house and you had to have Pierce through to get into the house. And when we left to go to the funeral, to the internment and she was going to go into a crypt, we had eight motorcycle, four motorcycle on each side of the coffin of the hearse. And it was a yellow Cadillac.

Speaker And I I was in the family car and I said, you know, everybody was kind of weepy. And I said, well, one thing I want to tell you, Alawi's here right now. She'd love the whole idea. She loved to stop traffic. She said she got jazzed up some time. And she said, I've had you look. I stopped traffic. I said, could you imagine? So we all had a good laugh because Ella would to love that they stopped the traffic on the freeway from the funeral procession to go throw it. And it was just it was a celebration. You know, we're sad, but we celebrate that we shared such a beautiful lady and we had so much so much love and so much caring because she's very delicious. Certainly someone and I'll remember all my life.

Speaker Okay. Thank you, Phoebe.

Speaker I think that silence for about 15 seconds. Rudolph.

Speaker Good tax.

Phoebe Jacobs
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-3x83j39j5q, cpb-aacip-504-b853f4m822, cpb-aacip-504-mw28912g70
"Phoebe Jacobs, Ella Fitzgerald: Something to Live For." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 14 Dec. 1998,
(1998, December 14). Phoebe Jacobs, Ella Fitzgerald: Something to Live For. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Phoebe Jacobs, Ella Fitzgerald: Something to Live For." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). December 14, 1998. Accessed May 19, 2022


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