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Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe

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According to the HistoryInPics Twitter account, the Mocambo night club in West Hollywood refused to book Ella Fitzgerald in 1954 because of her race. That is, until Marilyn Monroe said she'd reserve a table in the front row for Fitzgerald's show.

At least one part of the story is true: Marilyn Monroe did indeed help Ella Fitzgerald land a gig at the swanky hot spot Mocambo in 1954. But in fact, race wasn't the reason that Charlie Morrison, the club's manager, didn't want to book Fitzgerald. Black performers had played Mocambo plenty of times in the early 1950s. But unfortunately for Fitzgerald, Morrison didn't think she was "glamorous enough." Monroe was a huge fan of Fitzgerald and was able to change the manager's mind.

In her 2012 book, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed, biographer Michelle Morgan explains:

...a variety of black entertainers had been booked there long before Ella, including Dorothy Dandridge in 1951 and Eartha Kitt in 1953. The truth is that while [club manager] Charlie Morrison encouraged and applauded performers of all races in his club, he didn't see Ella Fitzgerald as being glamorous enough to bring in the crowds. It would take Marilyn to change his mind, and once Ella had her foot in the door she successfully played at the Mocambo on a variety of occasions.

Fitzgerald and other black entertainers of the 1950s experienced appalling discrimination in the United States, which is what makes the original story so believable. But in the case of Mocambo, Monroe's intervention wasn't about race.

Inaccurate fun fact photo via @HistoryInPics

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