My mother is credited with “discovering” people who are now thought of as legends in the fashion industry. She was a champion of talent with great vision. When she found someone she could believe in, without hesitation, she would clear the path for the person’s star to ascend. She never saw the obstacles, only the success.
In the 1950s, regardless of how popular you were, if you were African American you were relegated to small venues. The Hollywood hot spot at the time was the Mocambo and everyone who was anyone was there, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Charlie Chaplin, the list is endless. Because of her race Ella Fitzgerald was not allowed to play at the Mocambo and was limited to playing in small jazz clubs. That is until Marilyn Monroe made a very important phone call.
“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt …. 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 …. 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.” – Ella Fitzgerald
When I saw this image and quote on Pinterest it made me think of my mother. I smile thinking of all of the people she made calls for and rallied behind even if it seemed that they might not be accepted. She always saw common ground with everyone she encountered and part of her magic was her inability to be shortsighted. Her belief that talent should be celebrated against all odds made her a sort of rebel. I aim to be more like her.