Ella Fitzgerald (born April 25th 1917 - died June 15th 1996)
Ella Fitzgerald was an American jazz singer known for her scat singing and impressive vocal range.
Ella Fitzgerald: Net worth
Ella Fitzgerald had a net worth of $10 million at the time of her death (Celebrity Net Worth)
Ella Fitzgerald: Childhood
Ella Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia. Her parents were William Fitzgerald and Temperance Fitzgerald, who separated when Ella was still a baby. She later moved with her mother and her new partner to Westchester County, New York.
She attended Benjamin Franklin Junior High School where she displayed a strong passion for dancing, as well as jazz music - she adored The Boswell Sisters lead singer Connee Boswell.
During her teens, her mother passed away and her grades declined. She was abused by her stepfather and so ran away before getting into trouble with the authorities for acting as a lookout for a Mafia runner. She was subsequently sent to the Colored Orphan Asylum before attending the New York Training School for Girls. After leaving the latter, she became homeless.
Ella Fitzgerald: Musical career
Ella Fitzgerald started out singing regularly at the Apollo Theater in New York and won first prize at one of the early Amateur Nights contests.
In 1935, she began working with drummer Chick Webb and his band, recording several hits such as 'Love and Kisses' and the nursery rhyme 'A-Tisket, A-Tasket'.
After Webbs death in 1939, the band was then named Ella and her Famous Orchestra before it broke up in 1942.
She signed to Decca records and went on to have a solo career, formerly working alongside Norman Granz before he became her manager.
She soon started scat singing, with her 1945 recording of 'Flying Home' being highly regarded for her extraordinary talent.
When Ella left Decca, Granz formed Verve Records and she went on to release 'Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook' in 1956. Her later song book, 'Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book', actually featured Ellington on the record with her. The Song Book series became Ella's most significant work of her career. During this time, she was touring around 40 weeks a year.
In 1955, on the encouragement of Marilyn Monroe, Ella was booked to perform at the Mocambo nightclub in Hollywood. The incident was so significant, it was even turned into a play by Bonnie Greer.
Among her most highly lauded albums on Verve were 'Ella at the Opera House', 'Ella in Rome', 'Twelve Nights in Hollywood' and 'Ella in Berlin'; the latter features an incredible improvised performance of 'Mack the Knife' for which she won a Grammy after forgetting the words and making them up on the spot.
When Verve was sold to MGM, Ella went from Atlantic to Capitol to Reprise recording different genres of music. She released hymns album 'Brighten the Corner', carols record 'Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas' and country style 'Misty Blue' on Capitol among others.
Her last US charting single was a cover of Smokey Robinson's 'Get Ready'.
Ella released her album 'Jazz at Santa Monica Civic '72' in 1972, the success of which encourage Granz to form new label Pablo Records, for which Ella recorded twenty records. Her last recording was made in 1991 and her last live show took place in 1993.
In total, she won thirteen Grammy awards over her career.
Ella also appeared in several films including the 1955 movie 'Pete Kelly's Blues' alongside Janet Leigh and Peggy Lee. She had cameo roles in 'St. Louis Blues', 'Let No Man Write My Epitaph' and a role in TV drama 'The White Shadow'. She also featured in various commercials including for Memorex, Kentucky Fried Chicken and American Express.
Ella Fitzgerald: Personal life
Ella Fitzgerald married her first husband Benny Kornegay, a drug dealer, in 1941 though the union was annulled two years later. She married bass player Ray Brown in 1947 with whom she adopted her half-sister's son which she named Ray Brown, Jr. They divorced amicably in 1953. It was reported in 1957 that she had married Thor Einar Larsen, but no further news of their relationship came about following his arrest for stealing money.
After a history of respiratory problems, congestive heart failure, exhaustion and diabetes, she passed away at her home in Beverly Hills after insisting on discharging herself from hospital for her final days. According to her family, the day she died she looked up at the sky for the last time and said, 'I'm ready to go now'. She was interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, LA.