The Mocambo nightclub at 8588 Sunset Boulevard—a whites-only club—was the most popular dance spot around but would not book Ella Fitzgerald because she was black. Marilyn Monroe, who was one of Ella’s biggest fans, called the owner and demanded that they book Ella immediately. Marilyn told them that she would sit at the front table every night that Ella performed, which would give the Mocambo great publicity, due to Marilyn’s superstar status at the time. Who could say no? Marilyn appeared there every night. The press went crazy.
Marilyn and Ella would remain close friends until Marilyn’s death.
“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 times. And she didn’t know it.”
For more fascinating stories about Los Angeles, check out Chronicles of Old Los Angeles by James Roman!