All Things Marilyn

The True Story of Marilyn Monroe, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Mocambo Club

October 31, 2022 Scott Fortner, Elisa Jordan, and April VeVea Season 1 Episode 7
All Things Marilyn
The True Story of Marilyn Monroe, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Mocambo Club
Show Notes Transcript

It’s been widely reported that Marilyn Monroe catapulted jazz great Ella Fitzgerald’s career by personally calling the owner of the Mocambo Club in Los Angeles to demand that Ella be booked there. Evidently, Fitzgerald couldn’t get her own gig at the club, and Marilyn promised that if she was booked, Marilyn herself would show up every night and sit in the front row, ensuring massive press for the Mocambo. Even Ella herself has told this story. It’s been used as the storyline for what a great civil rights activist Marilyn was. 

But did it actually happen? Did Marilyn Monroe really call the owner of the Mocambo Club to get Ella Fitzgerald a job there? Did she promise to show up for Ella’s show every night and sit in the front row? Tune in to find out.  Spoiler alert: It couldn’t possibly have happened the way it’s been reported.

 On this episode of All Things Marilyn, Scott and Elisa are joined by Hollywood Historian and author April VeVea. April has authored a book on Jayne Mansfield titled Puffblicity: An Appreciation of Jayne Mansfield: The 50s Pictures, and on Monroe, Marilyn Monroe: A Day in The Life. As part of April’s research through the years, she’s discovered some very interesting facts about old Hollywood, including the truth behind the infamous story about Monroe, Fitzgerald and the Mocambo Club. 

April’s website is You can follow her online on Twitter and Instagram. 

Twitter: @classicblondess

Instagram: @classichollywoodwomen

 Buy April’s books on here

ATM Podcast: @allthingsmarilynpodcast
Scott @marilynmonroecollection
Elisa @la_woman_tours

Artwork by @marilynmexico
Soundtrack by @silver_technicolor

Scott: Hey everyone. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of All Things Marilyn. My name is Scott Fortner, Marilyn Monroe, historian, collector, and owner of the Marilyn Monroe Collection.

Elisa: And I am Elisa Jordan, founder of LA Woman Tours, and I am also a Marilyn historian.

Scott: We are lucky, excited, and thrilled to have with us Hollywood historian and author, April Vevea. Welcome, April.

April: Thanks for having me, guys.

Scott: We've been wanting to get you on the program for a little while to talk about Ella Fitzgerald and some really interesting information that you've uncovered and also give you a chance to talk about your new book.

April: Yes, I'm super excited to be here and hopefully everyone learns something new.

Scott: You know, there's a lot of legend and folklore and tales when it comes to Marilyn, but you've uncovered I think, something that's pretty interesting and pretty exciting that we can talk about. But before we get too much into detail for listeners who might not be familiar with you, why don't you talk a little bit about what you do, your work and your books.

April: I've been writing about Marilyn primarily since around 2015. As you guys know, I cheated and I expanded out. Now I focus on Old Hollywood in general. I also do a lot of work with Jayne Mansfield, so the Marilyn community enemy. I switch sides, but I really love what I do and they're all interesting. And my master's thesis was actually about how fan communities online continue to push and help the legacies of these Old Hollywood stars.

Scott: So you think that you've switched a little bit from Marilyn to Jayne?

April: I think they're both equal. I like them equally in different ways. I think I can relate quite a bit with Jayne, but I also love Marilyn's tenacity and how she made it. There's no arguments that Marilyn made it, and she just ruled the decade. They both have their strong points. As far as my books, I've written a book about Marilyn and a book about Jayne and I have finally finished the second edition of Marilyn: A Day In The Life and that should be out around December 1st. 

Scott: About your book, Marilyn: A Day In The Life. Talk a little bit about what that book covers cuz it's a really interesting approach. It's not just a biography.

April: It is a timeline biography. The main thing I wanted to do with this book was create a resource that people could use regularly, and instead of reading it cover to cover, which you can obviously do, it’s made with the idea that people can sit there and say, “Oh, I wanna know what she did in December of 1954.”

So, they just flipped to December of 1954 and they could see where she was. I used a lot of her documentation for this edition. It goes into her letters, it goes into what she was purchasing, and I think you can really get a feel for what she valued with it.

Elisa: I'm really excited about this.

Scott: You did an incredible amount of archiving all of the auctions that have sold Marilyn's personal files so far, there's still more to come, but all of her personal files, her letters, her receipts, her invoices, her bills, all of these types of things, you've basically compiled all of those and created a bit of a diary.

April: Yeah, it's right at about 400 pages of entries. There are a lot of transcripts. The biggest thing for me was looking at her shopping habits. She's going to go and drop $1,500 on a coat and it's, you know, $1,500 even today, we think, Oh, that's expensive for a coat. But people don't take into consideration $1,500 for a coat back then would be the equivalent roughly of about $17,000 today. So it's very interesting to see what she valued and what she was putting her money toward. 

Scott: Just to see what she was doing on any given day, pretty much throughout her entire adult life.

April: Yeah, and it is it's been a really fun, interesting experience and I feel like I know her on a deeper level.

Scott: That's what I find so interesting about the documentation, and Elisa and I have talked about this and totally agree with you. Certain things are all fine and good, like film costumes and all of those types of things. But when you really get into the files and the personal correspondence and the invoices and the bills and the receipts and all of these types of things, you get to see the woman behind the legend.

April: Exactly. I didn't wanna present anything where it's “here's my opinion on this,” because we all have opinions. But I wanted to instead make it, “These are the facts. This is what we can document.” You can make your own conclusions from it. I go into, certain things with these little informative sections, but they're only about a page or two.

For the most part, people can sit there and just look at the dates and I think it is a great reference, especially when people are trying to cross examine if she was with somebody else.

Scott: And we know a lot of times people have told stories about that.

April: Yeah, it's quite funny because. There's this party she supposedly attended at Fifi Fell’s in December of 1961. Well, Marilyn was in Los Angeles, so there's no way she went to the Fifi Fell party in December.

Scott: It's really a great way to go back and do some fact checking on people and their stories.

April: Yes, most definitely.

Elisa: So would this be the story about how she was at that party and JFK was there?

April: I was trying not to say the name, but yeah, that's the party. (laughs)

Elisa: Cut this out. (laughs)

April: Oh, no, you're totally fine. There's that whole thing. She went to some event and she was sitting there and they were talking and she was like three hours late. And she couldn't have gone to it because she sat there and was writing Marlon Brando and had an appointment with [Dr.] Engelberg.

Scott: When you get to that level of detail you can start peeling back the layers of the on. If you will, and getting to all the facts and the truth and really kind of disproving what some other people say.

Elisa: Because we're All Things Marilyn, we wanted to know how you came to find Marilyn.

April: My first memory of Marilyn was at this old antique store off of Truxton Avenue in Bakersfield, and they had one of those cardboard cutouts where the skirt is blowing over her head from The Seven Year Itch, and I was flabbergasted by it. I kept staring at it, but I didn't really ask about it.

It was like my own personal guarded secret that I was enthralled with this cardboard cutout. When I was around 16, I watched Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and I was hooked ever since. I really was about 18 or so when I was like, I'm going to learn as much as I can about this person. I read some books and I was like, I need to know more about this person. And obviously it's just kind of snowballed from there. 

Elisa: She has that effect on people.

April: She does! A big thing for me is I totally respect people, obviously, when they have a super personal connection with her story and everything. But for me it's let's go through the documents and let's try to go through all of these things and find out what we can about her.

And I would say she's a really great research subject because she has one of the most complete archives of any Old Hollywood star. There are some who might have a wider breadth of things that you can find out because they lived longer. But Marilyn, I would say, has the most fascinating and complete archive, and there's always something new to learn.

Scott: It is fascinating. I've been working with Julian's Auctions for the last couple of years going through the remainder of Marilyn's personal files and getting those ready to go to auction just really putting those out and making them available for collectors, and it really is interesting and there is actually something very exciting that will be coming up at the next Julian's Auction, which I can't really say what that is, but it is going to blow the minds of fans for sure.

It is something that's never been seen before. It's a first and it's something that, as I said, just really blow people's mind, and so that will be coming up at the next Julian's Auction, but it's going to dispel several myths and recreate history when it comes to Marilyn.

April: Oh, see now stuff like that, I'm super excited.

Scott: Yep. So more to come on that, but we're definitely together on this one April, because for me I'm most interested in the person behind the legend, the person behind the movie star and, you really get a lot of information from her personal correspondence and her files and all of these types of things. That's really what I love collecting.

April: I just have to say I absolutely love your collection because you are my spirit animal. You have just these wonderful documents and you're not picking stuff that is just film based. And there's nothing wrong with people who love the costumes and everything, but that's just not really my primary interest. I love going on your site on a regular basis and looking at what you have because it's just, it's so gorgeous.

Scott: Well, thank you. I like it, too. (laughs)

Elisa: So as we launch into this story, I will tell you this is a beloved story and I love it myself.

Scott: Are we talking about Ella? We're moving to Ella?

Elisa: Yeah, cuz that's why we're here. So let's dig in. April, can you tell us about Ella Fitzgerald's career in the early to mid-1950s? Where was she at?

April: Ella was really starting to appeal to a variety of audiences, and I think it's very fair to say that Ella was just up there. She had popular songs dating back to the forties. The primary issue with Ella's career is she's still dealing with a very segregated world and she can't get into every big name venue that a white performer can get into, and she's finding these closed off. But as a whole, I would say her career is going great. It's just the live performance side of it is suffering.

Scott: That's an interesting parallel that I wonder if a lot of people just hadn't thought about how she's being played on the radio and all of these types of things, and she's getting exposure that way. When it comes to in person types of appearances, that's where she was really having challenges.

April: Yes, most definitely. She makes the best with what she can, and she's already established herself as influential in the music business. People who play any genre will listen to Ella to get a feel for her vocals and get ideas on their arrangements. And of course, a huge fan of her at this time is Frank Sinatra.

Elisa: So tell us the famous story of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe that we know and love.

Scott: And it's repeated constantly and it's told everywhere, and it's really used as this platform for what an amazing civil rights activist Marilyn Monroe was.

Elisa: It was turned into a play. It's been the subject of television shows, so this is a major story.

April: In 1972, Ms. Magazine, which was edited by Gloria Steinem, decided to do a retrospective on Marilyn, and they tracked down primarily women who had worked or known Marilyn to get quotes about her for this 10-year anniversary of Marilyn's death. The issue came out in August 1972, and of course, the biggest thing to come out of it was Ella Fitzgerald, and she said, “I owe Marilyn a real debt. It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the fifties. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him, and it was true, due to Marilyn's superstar's status, that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there front table every night. The press went overboard. After that. I never had to play a small jazz club again.” 

It's this really happy, fun story and Marilyn is just stepping in and there's this idea that Ella's career basically was stalled or non-existent. Marilyn comes in and swoops in and picks Ella Fitzgerald up from obscurity and makes her this superstar because she sits at the front row of the Mocambo.

Scott: April, before we go any further, what did you just read from?

April: That is from the August 1972 article in Ms. Magazine.

Scott: And were those Ella's own words?

April: Yes. Those are Ella's own words on it.

Elisa: Did this same quote appear in Ella's book because she wrote an autobiography. I believe she wrote about this in her biography, but I could be wrong about that.

April: Yeah, it's basically a similar variation of it.

Scott: So let's dive in. What's the problem?

April: It didn't actually happen that way. The main problem is that when Ella was playing at the Mocambo, Marilyn was in New York City. Ella's opening is very well documented. Jet Magazine sends a photographer out there to catch her act and then to get the reception that's held for her afterwards. Marilyn's not in any of the pictures because again, Marilyn's in New York City.

Scott: And the Mocambo is in LA.

April: Yes, sir.

Elisa: So what year are we talking?

April: This would be March of 1955. And a big thing with it is Ed Feingersh starts photographing Marilyn around March 23rd when Ella is at the Mocambo.

Elisa: Mm-hmm. 

Scott: Of course, Ella's telling a story about how Marilyn said, “Put Ella Fitzgerald on stage and I'll show up every night and the press will go wild.” But there are no photos.

April: No, we have no record of Marilyn flying to Los Angeles. Of course, this is when she is fighting quite heavily with Fox and she's avoiding LA at all costs. Like I said, Jet did cover the reception and they also ran text with it. So if Marilyn was there, Marilyn would at least be talked about.

Scott: But the photo of Marilyn and Ella. Talk about that. There is a photo of them together but therein lies is a problem.

April: Yes, so there actually are a couple photos of Marilyn and Ella sitting together. I believe there's two. Those were taken November 18th, 1954. And they are taken at a place called the Tiffany Club. The nice thing about this is we do know one that it was Marilyn's first major public event since her endometriosis surgery. And the other thing with it is we know that Marilyn went several times to the Tiffany Club to see Ella, and we know this because for starters, she went with a different group of people, but she's wearing different outfits. So one Marilyn is wearing this slinky black dress with a mink. Of course, those are the photos that we know. The other one, no photos have come out, but we do know she was wearing a blouse with pedal pushers.

Scott: Okay, the issue is there's no way that Marilyn could have been at the Mocambo because it's documented that when Ella Fitzgerald was there, Marilyn was actually in New York. This was 1955, and there are photos of Marilyn with Ella that are incorrectly attributed to the Mocambo Club appearance, but in fact, those photos are from Ella's performance and appearance at the Tiffany Club the year before in 1954.

April: Yes, sir.

Elisa: Okay, so if you're not from LA, let me describe the geography of the city. The Mocambo Club is on the Sunset Strip, which is a very high-end destination for the very wealthy and the very famous, and the reason it is so famous is because it was unincorporated LA at the time. So during prohibition, the sheriff's department covered it and not the regular LAPD, so it got a reputation as a place where you could party, but in order to have that privilege of partying, you had to be rich and famous, and that's how the Sunset Strip got established. And it's a very distinct street with a definite beginning and a definite end. 

The Tiffany Club is in a different part of LA completely. It's more in the center of the city. And it's close to the Ambassador Hotel, which, of course, housed the Cocoanut Grove. The Cocoanut Grove was literally world famous. For as popular as the Mocambo was, the Cocoanut Grove was one of the most famous clubs probably in the world because it had a radio show and the Tiffany Club was on Eighth Street, which is very close to the Ambassador.

It's now part of Koreatown—before it was known as Koreatown—but if you're familiar with the current location, just think of the Koreatown neighborhood. So that's where the Tiffany Club was. And too, if you wanna break it down even further and get even nerdier about this, in the 1960s, starting in 1966, the Tiffany Theater opened on the Sunset Strip. That's a completely different Tiffany. There was a Tiffany Club and a Tiffany Theater. So we are talking about the Tiffany Club and the center of Los Angeles and not the Tiffany Theater on the Sunset Strip. So I hope I just didn't overwhelm everyone. But we're talking about two very distinct neighborhoods. They're nowhere near each other.

April: Just to add that the Tiffany Club is very racially diverse. It's a jazz club, and they're not going to discriminate against Ella Fitzgerald based on her race.

Scott: April, let's talk about that just for a little bit, because another element of the story is that Ella Fitzgerald wouldn't have been booked at the Mocambo because she was African American, but that's not actually accurate. That's not a true story, right? It wasn't the issue of her race.

April: Her race isn't really an issue the Mocambo was a more they diverse club. They had had the likes of Dorothy Dandridge and Eartha Kitt, Joyce Bryant, Lena Horn. They had these very glamorous women who played there, and they were obviously African American women. The owners of the club were originally Charlie Morrison and Felix Young. And Felix Young is interesting because reportedly played a pretty major role in Lena Horn's rise to stardom, and there are rumors that the two of them dated—can't say much on the validity of that, but just FYI. Felix Young was kicked out of ownership pretty early on, after the club's opening.

Ella was in no way the first African American performer. However, she was noticeably bigger than the women they usually hired to play, and she was not this Glamazon. I mean, Joyce Bryant has this platinum blonde hair that's just this gorgeous silver color. And of course, Dorothy Dandridge is considered by many people to be one of the most beautiful women who ever graced the silver screen. So these women are just very glam, very gorgeous.

And Ella is not up to that standard. So probably is a combination of both how she presented herself as well as her weight as to why they wouldn't book her.

Elisa: And this is something I've heard before that because she wasn't glamorous, it held her career back. But if true, this is something we would still see today, I would think.

April: I think there's definitely an idea that she's not going to have the stage presence that they want. Instead, when you're going to see her in their mind, I'm not obviously saying this is true, but in their mind, people who go to see her are just gonna have to listen to her voice because she doesn't have that super glamorous over-the-top persona going on that the Mocambo is used to having performed there.

Scott: I think that's really unfortunate because you can watch any Ella Fitzgerald performance and recognize immediately that she's got stage presence.

April: Most definitely, and I'm not saying her race had nothing to do with it either. It's just it wasn't this super segregated club that people make it out to be.

Scott: It sounds like they really had a certain look that they were going for, and they wanted people to fit a certain mold that they were trying to use to represent what the club had to offer to its guests, and Ella just didn't fit that.

April: Yes, I would agree with you on that, and I think that Elisa would agree with me on this, not to speak for you, and obviously cut in, but the Mocambo was really going for escapism. There are live birds fluttering around and it has this Latin American theme. When you're at the Mocambo, you're basically in a whole other world and they have a persona that they want to continue. 

Elisa: We've seen pictures of Marilyn and Ella together. Were they friends? Did they know each other? Were they acquaintances? Can you talk a little bit about what their relationship was?

April: I think their relationship sometimes gets exaggerated because people act like they were the best of friends and just hanging out all the time. We really don't know how close they were. Scott would have to speak on it, but from what I am remembering, I don't believe she is in Marilyn's phone book.

Scott: She is not. 

April: But people really wanna cling onto that idea, so I'm not going to sit there and say, “Oh they never even knew each other.” We obviously know that they had some sort of at least kinship, but I would say that they were probably more along the lines of acquaintances who both held a deep respect for one another.

Scott: And appreciation. I find it interesting that even in Ella's book she wrote about this, and clearly some wires got crossed somewhere. April, why don't you talk a little bit about how you got started taking a look at this and researching it. What prompted you to start diving into this or what happened?

April: I had known that the photos were taken at the Tiffany Club. That came out well before I even joined the online community. But there was still this idea that she was at the Mocambo and we were just waiting for those photos to come up. I went into this and I was like, I'm gonna find those photos, like we're gonna do this. I'm gonna get those photos, and I am just, I've got it. I can do it. And I was going through and it's just there's nothing. There are no photos. There were no reports of it. So pretty much right off the bat, I knew that the story couldn't have been how Ella remembered it because there were no reports about it. 

So I went through and I found a Dorothy Kilgallen column that linked Ella and Marilyn together, as well as the Mocambo. And her column said that Marilyn had helped orchestrate the booking, but that was it. And of course, it's from a gossip column. I was like, Okay, that's a good story. And then I got all the information that I could find on the Tiffany Club and that’s how I found where she went multiple times.

And then 2016 happened and the telegram was released through Julian's. If people haven't seen the telegram, it's from Inez C. Melson and it's to Marilyn on February 15th, 1955, and it just says, Hi, I talked to Joe Brooks, who's the husband of Jules Fox, who is Ella's publicity agent, and she said, That you had promised to throw Ella a party if she got booked at the Mocambo. And I said that you couldn't do it cuz I didn't think you would be in town. That brought together how Marilyn must have helped orchestrate her booking by promising this party.

And then, of course, she couldn't do it because of where her personal life was and where her career was at that point. But Ella was thrown a party and it was hosted by Frank Sinatra. It's possible Marilyn had a hand in that. I wouldn't be shocked. We just don't quite know—we don't have anything to support that.

But it made sense when I saw that telegram as to why Dorothy Kilgallen that Marilyn had helped orchestrate the booking.

Elisa: So that would explain the gossip column.

April: Yes, ma'am.

Elisa: And Inez Nelson, for those of you who don't know, was one of Marilyn's employees, so that's why she would've sent a telegram.

Scott: She was her business manager for quite some time, the early 1950s all the way through 1962. That's what she's referred to, as “business manager.” And she was the executrix of Marilyn Monroe estate, so she actually made sure that Marilyn's mother was cared for.

Elisa: Yes.

Scott: Using funds from Marilyn's estate that Marilyn had set aside in her will.

Elisa: April, we know that this got started in the early seventies with Ms. Magazine, and then it was repeated. What's weird about this story is that it comes from Ella herself. We know where it started. We would like to know the why behind it. Why did Ella say this?

April: I think it's just a really simple thing of her conflating these events that are only a few months apart. She's talking about something that at this point had happened 17 years before and she's just recalling it incorrectly would be my guess. I think it would be a bigger thing if these events were, like, three years apart. The other thing is with it, it might be that the Mocambo was the main thing she remembered over the Tiffany Club. Not to say that the Tiffany Club didn't have a great reputation. It did, but the Mocambo is more recognizable to audiences when she is talking about this versus saying, “I was at the Tiffany Club, which is this small jazz club when Marilyn showed up and sat at the front row and the press went wild.” I think it's one of those two scenarios. And the other thing I think with all of this is that Marilyn fans have to cling to this really positive mythos because we're bombarded with this extremely negative information almost all the time. And so it's one of those things that no one sat there and was like let's go into this more—cuz there's something positive about her, so we're just going to go with it.

Scott: I wanna make sure that we're making sure that we're presenting the information via your research April. I'm gonna summarize here, and maybe you can just correct me if I'm off track, but just to bring it back all together. Based on your research. It's not possible that Marilyn said to the owner of the Mocambo Club, the owners book Ella Fitzgerald and I will be there every single night. And she did that and the press went wild. 

That's not possible because this happened the wrong year and Marilyn was in New York in 1955 and the photos that we see of them together at the Tiffany Club in 1954. But are you saying you think there's a possibility that maybe Marilyn actually did have a little bit of a part in getting Ella into the Mocambo Club, or was it just, Hey, you get into the Mocambo and we'll throw you a great party?

April: I would imagine from just kind of everything that I've seen about this, that Marilyn offered the party with the idea that it would get the Mocambo press.

Scott: Okay.

April: And that is what she used as a tool to orchestrate the booking. That would be my educated guess on it.

Scott: So that's a bit of a reverse way of getting Ella into the Mocambo. So not necessarily “I want you in the Mocambo, I'm gonna call them to get you in there.” But more, “Hey, if they book you, let's do this great party and event, and that will bring even more press.”

April: Yeah, and I think what she did was she probably told the Mocambo that she was going to throw this party and she would invite all the press to this party if they would book it. I'm sure the Mocambo had some pushing to get Ella there.

Elisa: But there was some sort of a party.

April: There was a party; Jet Magazine covered it. Frank Sinatra is the big one that was there, but a bunch of other stars showed up to it, too, to the point where Jet had to give it a multi-page feature. 

Scott: So it is really interesting. You've gone through and done some really incredible detective work, and frankly, I think you're one of the best at this when it comes to this type of research and information, and you've posted about this on your blog. And for our listeners, if you could just name your blog and where they could go to find this.

April: I think my blog name's easy to remember. It's just

Scott: Very easy.

 April: Yeah. It has a search tool. Just search Ella Fitzgerald. It comes right up.

Scott: Now, one of the questions that Elisa and I wanted to ask is, you've really been, not rewriting history, but you've been setting the records straight when it comes to the history of Marilyn and Ella. Talk a little bit about how this has been received by the fans and what type of feedback you've received.

April: Oh gosh, it's been a mixed bag. I have had people tell me I am a horrible person, and that I should just let sleeping dogs lie. And I've had other people who are very happy to know that Marilyn probably helped Ella twice with furthering her career. It's just a mixed bag. Hopefully people who listen to this will be positive cuz I don't know if I can take another round of hate. When this article first came out, it was something. 

Scott: Your intent not to malign Marilyn or to cast her in a negative light. It's just, wait a minute. I'm not sure all this adds up the way that the story is told. But look at this aspect of it, which is a little bit different and still just as good.

Elisa: Yeah, I feel like both women still come out looking good in this story.

April: So I think a big thing with this is a lot of people have put their own connotation on it because Ella never says in the ’72 Ms. article that the Mocambo discriminated against her because she was African American. People jumped to that conclusion because Ella says she was forward thinking.

Now that doesn't mean that isn't what Ella was hinting at. I can see why people made the connection, but she never explicitly says that. And I think that when you look at the truth of it, it puts, as you guys have said, it puts both of them in a very good light. But it also lets Ella fall back a little bit more on her own laurels and her own talent versus having to have—and I know this term gets overused, but having to have this white savior come in and rescue her and pluck her from obscurity. It's like Ella was able to do it, but she needs somebody in her corner to do it.

Scott: Really interesting observation.

Elisa: Do we know how Marilyn felt about the Civil Rights Movement or just in general about some of these topics that were not necessarily new, but definitely coming to the forefront when it came to mainstream media.

April: Marilyn, as far as we know, was very supportive of civil rights. She repeatedly talked about how people should be treated equally. There’s several quotes that support her idea that, segregation and discrimination were horrible practices. I do think there is a push to make her more involved than she actually was, but I do think she was a vocal supporter.

Scott: Yeah. In her final interview with [Richard] Merryman, she said, We're all brothers. We need to look out for each other and take care of each other. And I remember a couple years ago, I don't think it was a couple years ago, it's probably been quite some time, but do you guys remember when that picture came out of Marilyn sitting at a table with Billy Travilla? And Travilla was sitting next to an African American man, and it was all of a sudden Marilyn's this great civil rights leader, look at her sitting at a table with this African American man, and it's just like, no, she's just sitting at a table with a black man. What is the big deal?

Scott: Do you remember that?  

April: Yeah. 

Elisa: Yeah.

April: And that's my thing cuz in the ger, coverage of her thing at the Mocambo, Ella Mae, who is a white woman, is kissing her on the cheek and so is Dawn Loper, who's a white man. There were horrible things that happened in the fifties. I'm in no way defending the decade. But there are very much this idea of white people were afraid to appear with African Americans, and that's not how it was for most decent white people. I don't know. It's a weird twisting of the narrative because there was so much negative going on during that time, people saying Hattie McDaniel was banned from the Oscars. And it's like, well, no. She had to sit at a segregated table by herself, which is horrible, but they didn't ban her from attending.

Scott: Yeah, 

Elisa: We have to look at each individual, basically.

April: Exactly.

Elisa: April, is there anything that we are missing or that we neglected to ask you or just anything you'd like to add on this topic?

April: Just that I had a very good time with both of you and I very much look forward to listening to what you guys put out. Everything you've done is great.

Elisa: Thank you and people, please do not harass April online for this story. Do not shoot the messenger.

April: I very much appreciate that.

Elisa: How can we find you, April? We know your blog. Where are you on social media? How can people follow you because you have a really fun Instagram.

April: Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. On Instagram, I am @classichollywoodwomen. There is a lot of Marilyn content on there for the Marilyn fans, but I do try to cover little bit of everyone on there. On Twitter, I am under classicblondess with two S's. 

Scott: April, it's been so fun chatting with you and getting to the bottom of this story. And again, you're not necessarily trying to say anything negative about Marilyn or about Ella. You're just really saying, You know, I'm not sure all of this adds up. Because the facts don't support the story, even the story told by Ella herself, and I just find that really interesting.

April: Most definitely. And it shows, like I said, it paints both of them in a better light. Marilyn helps her twice and made it because of how great she was. So I think the truth is better than the fictionalized story.

Scott: Better than the fictionalized story. Agreed. Thank you very much again for taking the time out of your very busy schedule and we look forward to your book. Do you know where people are gonna be able to find that or pick that up?

April: You'll be able to get at all major online retailers.

Scott: Thanks again, April. It's been a pleasure. And for all of our listeners, we just wanna say if you have thoughts or ideas or feedback for us on the show, suggestions for additional shows, new shows coming forward, feel free to email Elisa and me at

Scott: Thanks for tuning in. We'll see you next time for All Things Marilyn.