It was on this day, June 15, 1996, one of the defining voices of an era in Jazz died in her home in Beverly Hills, California. Ella Fitzgerald, the last of four great female jazz singers (including Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Carmen McRae) defined one of the most prolific eras in jazz vocal style.
From the time she joined the Chick Webb Orchestra in 1935, when she was 16 years old, she displayed extraordinary vocal skills. Completely at home with up-tempo songs, her scat singing placed her jazz vocals with the finest jazz instrumentalists, and it was this magnificent voice that she brought to her film appearances. She was at her sophisticated best with the songs of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, of George Gershwin, and of Cole Porter.
Ella joined ASCAP in 1940, and her chief musical collaborators included Chick Webb, Lupin Fien, and Josef Myrow. Her popular-song compositions include “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”, “You Showed Me the Way”, “Spinnin’ the Web”, “I Found My Yellow basket”, “Chew, Chew, Chew”, “Please Tell the Truth”, “Oh! But I Do”, and “Just One of Those Nights”.
A close friend of Marilyn Monroe, Monroe helped Fitzgerald in her musical career by arranging for her to sing in upscale nightclubs that were segregated at the time of their friendship.
With an output of more than 200 albums, her 13 Grammy awards are more than any other jazz performer. She won the Best Female Vocalist award three years in a row.
Her last few years were spent in seclusion. She had suffered with bilateral amputation of her legs from complications of diabetes. She died of congestive heart failure.
Entombed at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California – Sunset Memorial Garden Mausoleum, Second Floor, Sanctuary of the Bells, Crypt 1063.
She was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 1987 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C. She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording Charter inductee of the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1978. Inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995
1910 – David Rose (Grammy Award-winning  composer: The Stripper; scores: Little House on the Prairie, Bonanza, Sea Hunt, Highway Patrol; David Rose and His Orchestra: The Red Skelton Show, The Tony Martin Show; died Aug 23, 1990)
1945 – Nicola Pagett (actress: An Awfully Big Adventure, Privates on Parade, Oliver’s Story, There’s a Girl in My Soup, Upstairs Downstairs)
1949 – Jim Varney (actor: The Beverly Hillbillies, Ernest Goes to Jail, Ernest Saves Christmas; died Feb 10, 2000)
1954 – Jim Belushi (actor: Saturday Night Live, Trading Places, The Man with One Red Shoe, Little Shop of Horrors, The Principal, Who’s Harry Crumb?, Diary of a Hit Man, Destiny Turns on the Radio, Mighty Ducks the Movie: The Face-Off, Retroactive, Wag the Dog, K-911; John Belushi’s brother)
1955 – Julie Hagerty (actress: Airplane!, Airplane II: The Sequel, Women of the House, Noises Off, What About Bob?, Reversal of Fortune, Lost in America, The House of Blue Leaves)
1963 – Helen (Elizabeth) Hunt (Academy Award-winning actress: As Good As It Gets ; Emmy Award-winning actress: Mad About You [1995-1996, 1996-1997, 1997-1998, 1998-1999]; Swiss Family Robinson, It Takes Two, The Fitzpatricks, Amy Prentiss, Twister, Kiss of Death, Next of Kin, Peggy Sue Got Married, Quarterback Princess, Desperate Lives, The Spell, My Life and Times)
1964 – Courteney Cox (actress: Friends, Family Ties, Ace Ventura Pet Detective)
1970 – Leah Remini (actress: The King of Queens, Living Dolls, Glory Daze, Follow Your Heart)
1971 – Jake Busey (actor: Starship Troopers, Shimmer, Twister, Contact, Enemy of the State, Shasta McNasty; son of actor Gary Busey)
1973 – Neil Patrick Harris (actor: Doogie Howser, M.D., Clara’s Heart, Snowbound: The Jim and Jennifer Stolpa Story, My Antonia, Starship Troopers, The Next Best Thing)