Survey Associates, Inc. via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Survey Associates, Inc. via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

6 Deadly Labor Disputes

Survey Associates, Inc. via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Survey Associates, Inc. via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Labor Day is upon us, a day to say goodbye to summer and enjoy a picnic with family and friends. But it’s also a day to remember the struggles of working people, and to recall the pioneers of the U.S. labor movement. These folks brought us the 8-hour work day, overtime pay, and collective bargaining. They also worked to eliminate paternalistic employer practices, child labor, and unsafe working conditions. The history of labor relations is littered with strikes that often cost lives. Here are just a few of those you should know about.     

1. The Haymarket Affair // Chicago, Ill.

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Who: Chicago police vs. protesting laborers
Date: May 4, 1886
Dead: 11 (seven policemen, four protesters)

Workers in Illinois were mandated an 8-hour workday in 1867. But even afterward, if you wanted a job, you were often required to sign a waiver allowing more hours. State oversight was lax, so workers had little recourse until the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions called for a rally on May 1, 1886. Demonstrations were held in various cities, and 80,000 workers marched in Chicago. The demonstrations continued for several days. Chicago police killed a few striking workers on May 3, prompting a labor meeting on May 4 at Haymarket Square.

The mayor of Chicago had granted permission for the rally, but Chicago police showed up and tried to disperse the crowd anyway. The rally was almost over by that time, and only a couple of hundred workers remained. Someone from the rally threw a homemade bomb filled with dynamite at the police. The police began shooting, and when the smoke cleared, seven policemen and four rally attendees lay dead. Only one policeman was found to have been killed by the bomb. Dozens on both sides were injured.

Eight men among the labor activists were rounded up and charged with murder. Most weren’t even at the rally, but were labor organizers. They were all found guilty and sentenced to death, except for one who was sentenced to 15 years hard labor. Two of the death sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment, and one man was found dead in his cell a day before the execution. The other four were hanged on November 11, 1886. In 1893, the surviving three men were pardoned by the governor. May 1 was later declared International Labor Day to commemorate the demonstrations for the 8-hour workday.

2. The Battle of Homestead // Homestead, Penn.

Who: Carnegie Steel Corporation vs. Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers
Date: July 6, 1892
Dead: 12* (nine strikers, three Pinkerton agents*)

The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers union members made up only about a fifth of the workers at the Homestead steel plant. When their contract was about to run out in 1892, Amalgamated tried to negotiate a raise for its workers. Carnegie Steel countered by offering a pay cut, take it or leave it. The company locked the doors of the plant on June 28. Henry Clay Frick, who oversaw operations for Carnegie Steel, had barbed wire and guards placed around the plant to keep workers out. A wall was built around it, which the workers dubbed “Fort Frick.”

The plan was to bring in non-union labor from cities far from Pittsburgh. But first, they brought in 300 men from the Pinkerton Detective Agency to keep Homestead workers out. The armed agents were brought in on barges traveling up the Monongahela River on the evening of July 5. Thousands of striking workers rushed to watch, bringing guns. At midnight, workers warned the agents not to step on land, but they did, and that was when the shooting began.

B.H.L. Dabbs via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

No one knows who shot first, but the gunfire raged on and off for 14 hours. Workers not only fired their rifles, but threw dynamite and tried to set the river on fire with oil. The Pinkerton detectives finally surrendered on the afternoon of July 6. They were removed under a gauntlet of abuse, and the barges were burned after they left.

The workers celebrated their victory, but it was only one battle in a longer war. The governor sent in the Pennsylvania National Guard to keep order, and to ensure safe passage for strikebreakers brought in to reopen the plant. Strike leaders were arrested for murder and treason. They weren't convicted, but the union was broken in Homestead. Most of the striking employees were rehired within a year, at reduced wages.  

3. The Pullman Strike // Chicago, Ill.

Who: Pullman Palace Car Company vs. The American Railway Union
Date: July 7, 1894
Dead: 30

Workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company near Chicago, which manufactured railway cars, went on strike on May 11, 1894, to protest a 25 percent pay cut and 16-hour workdays. The American Railway Union, which represented a minority of the Pullman workers, only got involved after the beginning of the strike. The union instructed its railway worker members to refuse service to trains that used Pullman cars. By the end of June, over 125,000 workers had walked off the job nationwide.

As more union workers joined the railroad boycott, the public became angry about the interruption in service. Once a mail train was set on fire, President Grover Cleveland became angry as well, and he sent federal troops to Chicago. The head of the ARU, Eugene V. Debs, tried to urge restraint among workers, but an injunction from Washington prohibited the union administration from communicating with the rank-and-file. On July 4, workers rampaged through rail yards, setting fires and destroying equipment in response to the federal intervention.

Library of Congress // Public Domain

On July 7, thousands of police and federal troops clashed with thousands of protesters. National Guardsmen shot into the crowds, killing around 30 people. Debs, who was arrested on July 10, tried to end the strike by offering to send workers back to their jobs under company conditions, but the railroads instead hired non-union workers. The railroads inched back to regular service, and the boycott was broken.

4. The Ludlow Massacre // Ludlow, Colo.

Survey Associates, Inc. via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Who: Colorado Fuel and Iron Company vs. United Mine Workers of America
Date: April 20, 1914
Dead: Dozens (numbers vary by source)

In September 1913, 11,000 miners across southern Colorado went on strike against several mining companies, protesting low pay and unsafe conditions. The strike lasted over a year. The company responded by evicting miners and their families from company housing, which led to thousands of people living in tent colonies. The tent colony in Ludlow, near Trinidad, was particularly large. The mines in that area were operated by Colorado Fuel & Iron Corporation. CF&I hired agents from the Baldwin Felts Detective Agency to harass miners. The detectives brought an armored vehicle with a mounted machine gun called the “Death Special,” from which they fired on striking miners. There were occasional deaths on both sides.

The Rockefeller family, who owned the mining operation, called on the governor of Colorado to send in the National Guard. When they arrived, striking miners thought they were there to protect them from the hired agents, but soon saw that the National Guard was there to impose CF&I control.

On April 20, 1914, the shooting escalated into an all-out battle. Baldwin Felts agents and the militia set fire to the tent colony. Some women and children fled into the wilderness, while others took shelter in cellars they had dug under the tents. In the cellar of tent #58, two women and 11 children suffocated as their tent and its wooden floored blazed above. Two other women survived to tell the tale. Several other people were shot to death.   

Bain News Service via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The miners, outraged at the massacre, destroyed mining operations all around the area, and traded shots with the militia until federal troops were sent in. By the time the strike was over in December 1914, the union was out of funds and somewhere between 60 and 200 people had been killed. Hundreds of miners and a few militiamen were arrested for murder, but not convicted. Even though the union lost the strike, national publicity about the working conditions of Western miners led to new federal safety regulations for mines. The site of the Ludlow Massacre, on land owned by the UMWA, is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. The story was remembered in a folk song.

5. The Battle of Matewan // Matewan, W.V.

Who: Stone Mountain Coal Corporation vs. United Mine Workers
Date: May 19, 1920
Dead: 10 (seven detectives, two miners, one mayor)

At the Stone Mountain Coal Corporation's mines in Matewan, W.V., the hours were long, the conditions unsafe, and the pay was low. The company even controlled commerce: It paid in script that could only be redeemed at the company store, and rented company houses to employees. Coal miners in West Virginia had heard about miners in Pennsylvania that had won a 27 percent raise through the United Mine Workers, so when the union came to organize West Virginia in the spring of 1920, miners signed up. Stone Mountain responded by firing union members, which meant they were to be evicted from company houses.

Matewan mayor Cabel Testerman and police chief Sid Hatfield refused to carry out evictions of the miners and their families, so Stone Mountain hired the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency, operated by the three Felts brothers. They sent agents to evict miners throughout the spring. By May 19, tensions were high in the community, and hundreds of families were living in tents. That day, a group from the detective agency arrived by train in Matewan to evict six more miners. They worked through the afternoon, and returned to town to have dinner before the train left. Mayor Testerman confronted the agents (called “thugs” by the townspeople) about the evictions. Sid Hatfield threatened to arrest them. Albert Felts produced an arrest warrant for Hatfield. The group was surrounded by angry and armed miners. That’s when the shooting began.

Jimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Most accounts say that no one knows who shot first, while at least one states that Hatfield shot Albert Felts first. When the gunfire was done 10 minutes later, seven detectives—including both Albert and Lee Felts—two miners, and Mayor Testerman were dead; a number of townspeople were wounded.

State police were sent to Matewan to keep peace. Hatfield and 22 others were indicted for murder, but those whose charges weren’t dismissed were acquitted by a sympathetic jury. Hatfield married Testerman’s widow a couple of weeks after the mayor’s death, leading to some speculation that Hatfield actually shot Testerman. In 1921, the surviving Felts brother, Thomas Felts, arranged for his agents to assassinate Sid Hatfield and his deputy Edward Chambers. There were no charges leveled against the detectives.  

6. The Milwaukee Transit Strike of 1934 // Milwaukee, Wisc.

Milwaukee Sentinel via Milwaukee Notebook

Who: The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company vs. The American Federation of Labor
Date: June 26-28, 1934
Dead: 1

The employees of the Milwaukee Electric Rail & Light Company were represented by a union called the Employees’ Mutual Benefit Association. But the workers felt that this in-house union wasn’t on their side, especially when the rail engineers, bus drivers, streetcar drivers, and mechanics had to take a pay cutin 1932. The American Federation of Labor wanted to move in and unionize the utility and restore wages. Company president S.B. Way opposed the AFL, and fired eight workers for union recruiting. A strike was called on June 26, 1934, in which laborers from other unions, many unemployed, joined the strikers and blocked streetcars from moving. Twelve were injured on the first night, 16 on the second night, and dozens were arrested.

On the third night, June 28, thousands of striking workers descended on the utilities' various facilities, bent on destruction. At the Lakeside Power Plant in St. Francis, rioters broke through windows to get in and destroy the building. One group rammed a steel post through a window, and it connected with a high-voltage control panel. Eugene Domagalski, a 24-year-old strike sympathizer, was electrocuted. On the same night, a bomb ruptured a major power line.

The next day, Way met with AFL officials of three unions and a priest as a negotiator. He gave in to the unions’ demands: a small wage increase and reinstatement of union organizers who had been fired. The trains and streetcars were running again on June 30th.   

There are many other labor disputes in U.S. history that turned deadly. Look for more in a future post.

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25 Royals in the Line of Succession to the British Throne
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

Between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcoming their third child on April 23, 2018 and Prince Harry's upcoming marriage to Suits star Meghan Markle in May, the line of succession to the British throne has become a topic of interest all over the world. And the truth is, it’s complicated. Though Queen Elizabeth II, who turned 92 years old on April 21, shows no signs of slowing down, here are the royals who could one day take her place on the throne—in one very specific order.


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As a direct result of his mother being the world's longest-reigning monarch, Prince Charles—the eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip—is the longest serving heir to the throne; he became heir apparent in 1952, when his mother ascended to the throne.


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At 35 years old, odds are good that Prince William, Duke of Cambridge—the eldest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana—will ascend to the throne at some point in his lifetime.



On July 22, 2013, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their first child, Prince George of Cambridge, who jumped the line to step ahead of his uncle, Prince Harry, to become third in the line of succession.


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On May 2, 2015, William and Catherine added another member to their growing brood: a daughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Though her parents just welcomed a bouncing baby boy, she will maintain the fourth-in-line position because of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which went into effect just a few weeks before her arrival, and removed a long-held rule which stated that any male sibling (regardless of birth order) would automatically move ahead of her.


 Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge depart the Lindo Wing with their newborn son at St Mary's Hospital on April 23, 2018 in London, England
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On April 23, 2018, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their third child—a son, whose name has yet to be announced, but who has already pushed his uncle, Prince Harry, out of the fifth position in line to the throne.


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As the second-born son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Harry's place in the line is a regularly changing one. It changed earlier this week, when his brother William's third child arrived, and could change again if and when their family expands.


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Prince Andrew is a perfect example of life before the Succession to the Crown Act 2013: Though he’s the second-born son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, he’s actually their third child (Princess Anne came between him and Prince Charles). But because the rules gave preference to males, Prince Andrew would inherit the throne before his older sister.


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Because Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, had two daughters and no sons, none of that male-preference primogeniture stuff mattered in terms of their placement. But with each child her cousin Prince William has, Princess Beatrice moves farther away from the throne. If Beatrice looks familiar, it might be because of the headlines she made with the Dr. Seuss-like hat she wore to William and Catherine’s wedding. (The infamous topper later sold on eBay for more than $130,000, all of which went to charity.)


Princess Eugenie of York arrives in the parade ring during Royal Ascot 2017 at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2017 in Ascot, England
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Though she’s regularly seen at royal events, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s youngest daughter spends the bulk of her time indulging her interest in fine art. She has held several jobs in the art world, and is currently a director at Hauser & Wirth’s London gallery.


 Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex leaves after a visit to Prince Philip
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Like his older brother Andrew, Prince Edward—the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip—jumps the line ahead of his older sister, Princess Anne, because of the older rule that put males ahead of females.


 James, Viscount Severn, rides on the fun fair carousel on day 4 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show on May 11, 2013 in Windsor, England
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James, Viscount Severn—the younger of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex’s two children, and their only son—turned 10 years old on December 17, 2017, and celebrated it as the 10th royal in line of succession. (The birth of the youngest Prince of Cambridge pushed him back a spot.)


Lady Louise Windsor during the annual Trooping the Colour Ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 15, 2013 in London, England.
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Because the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 wasn’t enacted until 2015, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor—the older of Prince Edward’s two children—will always be just behind her brother in the line of succession.


Princess Anne, Princess Royal, visits the Hambleton Equine Clinic on October 10, 2017 in Stokesley, England
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Princess Anne, the Queen and Prince Philip’s second-born child and only daughter, may never rule over the throne in her lifetime, but at least she gets to be called “The Princess Royal.”


Peter Phillips poses for a photo on The Mall
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The eldest child and only son of Princess Anne and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, stands just behind his mother in line. Interesting fact: Had Phillips’s wife, Autumn Kelly, not converted from Roman Catholicism to the Church of England before their marriage in 2008, Phillips would have lost his place in line.


Savannah Phillips attends a Christmas Day church service
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On December 29, 2010, Peter and Autumn Phillips celebrated the birth of their first child, Savannah Anne Kathleen Phillips, who is also the Queen’s first great-grandchild. She’s currently 15th in line.


Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Isla Phillips and Peter Phillips attend a Christmas Day church service
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Less than two years after Savannah, Peter and Autumn Phillips had a second daughter, Isla, who stands just behind her sister in line. It wasn’t until 2017 that Savannah and Isla made their Buckingham Palace balcony debut (in honor of their great-grandmother’s 91st birthday).


 Zara Tindall arrives for a reception at the Guildhall
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Not one to hide in the background, Zara Tindall—Princess Anne’s second child and only daughter—has lived much of her life in the spotlight. A celebrated equestrian, she won the Eventing World Championship in Aachen in 2006 and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year the same year (her mom earned the same title in 1971). She’s also Prince George’s godmother.


Mike Tindall, Zara Tindall and their daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph during day three of The Big Feastival at Alex James' Farm on August 28, 2016 in Kingham, Oxfordshire.
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Zara Tindall’s daughter Mia may just be 4 years old, but she’s already regularly making headlines for her outgoing personality. And though she’s only 18th in line to the throne, her connection to the tippity top of the royal family is much closer: Prince William is her godfather.


David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon

David Armstrong-Jones, the eldest child of Princess Margaret, isn’t waiting around to see if the British crown ever lands on his head. The 56-year-old, who goes by David Linley in his professional life, has made a name for himself as a talented furniture-maker. His bespoke pieces, sold under the brand name Linley, can be purchased through his own boutiques as well as at Harrods.


Margarita Armstrong-Jones and Charles Patrick Inigo Armstrong-Jones
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David Armstrong-Jones’s only son, Charles, may be 20th in line to the throne, but the 18-year-old is the heir apparent to the Earldom of Snowdon.


Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) talks with Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones (C) as her father David Armstrong-Jones (L), 2nd Earl of Snowdon, known as David Linley

Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, the youngest child of David Armstrong-Jones and his only daughter, is also the only granddaughter of Princess Margaret. Now 15 years old (she'll turn 16 in June), Lady Margarita made headlines around the world in 2011 when she served as a flower girl at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.


Lady Sarah Chatto, the daughter of Princess Margaret arrives for her mother's memorial service

Lady Sarah Chatto, Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones’s only daughter, is the youngest grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. In addition to serving as a bridesmaid to Princess Diana, she is Prince Harry’s godmother.


Lady Sarah Chatto (L) and her son Samuel Chatto (R) leave a Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of Lord Snowdon at Westminster Abbey on April 7, 2017 in London, United Kingdom
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The first-born son of Lady Sarah Chatto and her husband, Daniel, has a long way to go to reach the throne: He’s currently 23rd in line.


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For better or worse, Sarah and Daniel Chatto’s youngest son Arthur has become a bit of a social media sensation. He's made headlines recently as he regularly posts selfies to Instagram—some of them on the eyebrow-raising side, at least as far as royals go.


Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester makes a speech during the unveiling ceremony of London's first public memorial to the Korean War on December 3, 2014 in London, England
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At 73 years old, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester is the youngest grandchild of King George V and Queen Mary. Formerly, he made a living as an architect, until the 1972 death of his brother, Prince William of Gloucester, put him next in line to inherit his father’s dukedom. On June 10, 1974, he officially succeeded his father as Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, and Baron Culloden.

Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
10 Fascinating Facts About Ella Fitzgerald
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Today marks what would have been the 101st birthday of Ella Fitzgerald, the pioneering jazz singer who helped revolutionize the genre. But the iconic songstress’s foray into the music industry was almost accidental, as she had planned to show off her dancing skills when she made her stage debut. Celebrate the birthday of the artist known as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, or just plain ol’ Lady Ella with these fascinating facts.


Though she attempted to launch her career as a dancer (more on that in a moment), Ella Fitzgerald was a jazz enthusiast from a very young age. She was a fan of Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, and truly idolized Connee Boswell of the Boswell Sisters. “She was tops at the time,” Fitzgerald said in 1988. “I was attracted to her immediately. My mother brought home one of her records, and I fell in love with it. I tried so hard to sound just like her.”


A photo of Ella Fitzgerald
Carl Van Vechten - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Fitzgerald’s childhood wasn’t an easy one. Her stepfather was reportedly abusive to her, and that abuse continued following the death of Fitzgerald’s mother in 1932. Eventually, to escape the violence, she moved to Harlem to live with her aunt. While she had been a great student when she was younger, it was following that move that her dedication to education faltered. Her grades dropped and she often skipped school. But she found other ways to fill her days, not all of them legal: According to The New York Times, she worked for a mafia numbers runner and served as a police lookout at a local brothel. Her illicit activities eventually landed her in an orphanage, followed by a state reformatory.


In the early 1930s, Fitzgerald was able to make a little pocket change from the tips she made from passersby while singing on the streets of Harlem. In 1934, she finally got the chance to step onto a real (and very famous) stage when she took part in an Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater on November 21, 1934. It was her stage debut.

The then-17-year-old managed to wow the crowd by channeling her inner Connee Boswell and belting out her renditions of “Judy” and “The Object of My Affection.” She won, and took home a $25 prize. Here’s the interesting part: She entered the competition as a dancer. But when she saw that she had some stiff competition in that department, she opted to sing instead. It was the first big step toward a career in music.


Not long after her successful debut at the Apollo, Fitzgerald met bandleader Chick Webb. Though he was initially reluctant to hire her because of what The New York Times described as her “gawky and unkempt” appearance, her powerful voice won him over. "I thought my singing was pretty much hollering," she later said, "but Webb didn't."

Her first hit was a unique adaptation of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” which she helped to write based on what she described as "that old drop-the-handkerchief game I played from 6 to 7 years old on up."


Though it certainly takes a lot of courage to get up and perform in front of the world, those who knew and worked with Fitzgerald said that she was extremely shy. In Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz, trumpeter Mario Bauzá—who played with Fitzgerald in Chick Webb’s orchestra—explained that “she didn't hang out much. When she got into the band, she was dedicated to her music … She was a lonely girl around New York, just kept herself to herself, for the gig."


As her IMDb profile attests, Fitzgerald contributed to a number of films and television series over the years, and not just to the soundtracks. She also worked as an actress on a handful of occasions (often an actress who sings), beginning with 1942’s Ride ‘Em Cowboy, a comedy-western starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.


“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt,” Fitzgerald said in a 1972 interview in Ms. Magazine. “It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. 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 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. She was an unusual woman—a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

Though it has often been reported that the club’s owner did not want to book Fitzgerald because she was black, it was later explained that his reluctance wasn’t due to Fitzgerald’s race; he apparently didn’t believe that she was “glamorous” enough for the patrons to whom he catered.


Ella Fitzgerald
William P. Gottlieb - LOC, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Among her many other accomplishments, in 1958 Fitzgerald became the first African American woman to win a Grammy Award. Actually, she won two awards that night: one for Best Jazz Performance, Soloist for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook, and another for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook.


On June 27, 1991, Fitzgerald—who had, at that point, recorded more than 200 albums—performed at Carnegie Hall. It was the 26th time she had performed at the venue, and it ended up being her final performance.


In her later years, Fitzgerald suffered from a number of health problems. She was hospitalized a handful of times during the 1980s for everything from respiratory problems to exhaustion. She also suffered from diabetes, which took much of her eyesight and led to her having to have both of her legs amputated below the knee in 1993. She never fully recovered from the surgery and never performed again. She passed away at her home in Beverly Hills on June 15, 1996.


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