Kate Dudding: Voices From the Past: June, 2014

This is the twenty-second issue of Voices From the Past. My goal for each issue is to publish some highlights of one of my historical stories as well as an update on my activities. Please feel free to forward this e-newsletter to anyone you think might be interested.

This is one of the stories on my soon to be released fourth CD "Fighting For Our Rights: American Women Mid 20th Century."

New Memories of Marilyn Monroe

You remember Marilyn Monroe, right? It seemed to me that there had been so much publicity about her, that I had to know everything there is to know about her. However recently I was very surprised to read that Marilyn Monroe had changed Ella Fitzgerald’s life by making a phone call. Did you know that? In case you didn’t, I’ll tell you the story.


It started in 1953, as Marilyn was preparing for the film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,”  a musical. She was advised by her vocal coach: “Buy Ella Fitzgerald’s recording of Gershwin songs and listen to it a 100 times.”


Marilyn wasn’t really into jazz at that time. But she became a fan of Ella Fitzgerald’s by listening to her record, over and over.


Marilyn went on to star in several other smash hits including“The Seven Year Itch” you remember, where she wore that white halter dress and stood on top of a subway grate to get cool one hot summer night. AND Marilyn continued to buy and listen to records by Ella Fitzgerald.


Finally after two years of listening, in 1955, Marilyn just had to make that phone call. Marilyn was now 29 years old and a Hollywood superstar. Ella was 38 and, after 20 years of performing, was still singing in small, second rate jazz clubs - you know, dingy places with sticky floors, rooms reeking of smoke and spilled beer at the beginning of the evening.



It was 1955 when African Americans rarely sang in the first rate jazz clubs. In fact, when traveling they had difficulties finding hotels where they could stay and restaurants where they could eat. It was 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. It was 1955 when 14 year old Emmett Till was brutally murdered in Mississippi for speaking to and, perhaps, whistling at, a white woman.


It was 1955 when Marilyn changed Ella’s life.


Marilyn called the owner of a Hollywood nightclub, the club where Frank Sinatra had made his Los Angeles debut in the 1940s.


Marilyn told the nightclub’s owner:

“I’ve never seen Ella Fitzgerald perform. I want you to book her for a week immediately.”

          “You know I can’t. She’s black.”

“If you do, I will take a front table  every  night.    The press will go wild.”

          “I’ll do it.”


Marilyn kept her word – she was there, at a front table, every night. The press did go wild.     


Ella later said, I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her time.


As you probably know, Ella went on to have a long career - singing in all the best venues - thanks to Marilyn.


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As you probably also know, Marilyn did NOT have a long career. After 1955, she made several movies, including my personal favorites “Some Like It Hot” and “Bus Stop”.


In 1962, Marilyn gave her last interview, just several weeks before her death at age 36. Marilyn pleaded with the Life Magazine reporter: “Please don't make me a joke. End the interview with what I believe.”


He, or his editor, didn’t. Instead, the article ended with Marilyn talking about fame:

“If fame goes by, I’ve always known it was fickle.

  So at least it’s something I experienced.

  But that’s not where I live.”


Here’s how Marilyn wanted that article to end – here’s what she believed:

“What the world needs is a real feeling of kinship.  

 Everybody: stars, laborers, Negroes, Jews, Arabs. We are all brothers.”


Did you know that was what Marilyn believed???     Me neither.


Now I wonder what else we don’t know about Marilyn Monroe.


News about me

flyer for Wiawaka August 27 2014 I'm performing my program on "Women Artists of the 20th Century: The Tiffany Girls, Margaret Bourke-White and Georgia O'Keeffe" twice at Wiawaka - Center for Women on Lake George this summer: July 8 and August 27.

Tiffany lamps are well-known and easily recognized by their images of nature. But how they were created, by The Tiffany Girls, was unknown until 2005. Listen as Kate shares the recently-discovered stories of these women artists of the early 20th century.

Photographer Margaret Bourke-White took photos around the world from the 1920s till the 1960s. Initially she photographed architectural subjects, including the photo on the cover of the first Life magazine. But she then became captivated by people's faces, and so she told their stories.

Did you ever wonder why Georgia O'Keeffe painted those huge flowers and the bones in the desert? Kate shows 25 photographs of Georgia's paintings while sharing Georgia's own words about them - a virtual tour by the artist herself.

Each program is followed by a southwestern themed dinner. Show and Dinner Only $30/ for Overnight Guests and Day Pass Holders $15.00. The July 8 program is sold out. If you want to come to the August 27 program, please call 668-9690.

flyer for 9-28-14 Story Sunday On Sunday, September 28, my friend, Betty Cassidy, and I will be sharing stories at the Glen Sanders Mansion about "Julia Child and Other Remarkable People." There will be a special Julia Child menu:

  • Baby greens salad with poached pears, grapes, goats cheese & champagne vinaigrette
  • Classic roasted chicken with lemon and rosemary butter, sautéed vegetables, duchess potatoes
  • Chocolate almond cake, vanilla whipped cream, fresh raspberries

I'm also finishing on my fourth CD - "Fighting For Our Rights: American Women Mid 20th Century." This CD will be available by the end of July :-)

Thanks for reading this issue. I’ll be sending you some more story highlights in a few months.


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Copyright 2014 by Kathryn Eike Dudding. All Rights Reserved.