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Cass Elliot

Cass Elliot

Overview
Cass Elliot born Ellen Naomi Cohen and also known as Mama Cass, was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 singer and member of The Mamas & the Papas
The Mamas & the Papas
The Mamas & the Papas were a Canadian/American vocal group of the 1960s . The group recorded and performed from 1965 to 1968 with a short reunion in 1971, releasing five albums and 11 Top 40 hit singles...

. After the group broke up, she released five solo albums. Elliot was found dead in her room in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, England, from an apparent heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 after two weeks of sold-out performances at the Palladium
London Palladium
The London Palladium is a 2,286 seat West End theatre located off Oxford Street in the City of Westminster. From the roster of stars who have played there and many televised performances, it is arguably the most famous theatre in London and the United Kingdom, especially for musical variety...

. In 1998, Elliot, John Phillips
John Phillips (musician)
John Edmund Andrew Phillips , was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter and promoter . Known as Papa John, Phillips was a member and leader of the singing group The Mamas & the Papas...

, Denny Doherty
Denny Doherty
Dennis Gerrard Stephen Doherty was a Canadian singer and songwriter. He was most widely known as a founding member of the 1960s musical group The Mamas & the Papas.-Early career:...

, and Michelle Phillips
Michelle Phillips
Michelle Phillips is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She gained fame as a member of the 1960s group The Mamas & the Papas, and is the last surviving original member of the group.-Early life:...

 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

 for their work as The Mamas & the Papas.

Ellen Cohen was born to Philip and Bess Cohen in Baltimore, Maryland, where she grew up.
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Quotations

My advice is precisely the advice my mother gave me. If you believe you have talent, the next thing you must have is determination. If you keep working, keep striving, and try always to move forward a little bit with every job you do, you’ll eventually make it. And I believe that!

As quoted in "Twenty Questions for Mama Cass" by Frederick Todd in American Girl magazine (June 1970)

I don't think it's so important who you vote for — you vote for who you believe in. The important thing is to vote, because it's our way and it's the best way.

Appearance on The Midnight Special in August 1972 in a Get Out The Vote drive; as quoted at the official Cass Elliot website. :Interview with Jerry Hopkins, Rolling Stone magazine No. 20 (26 October 1968)

I hated it. Everybody'd say, "Hey, mama, what's happening?" Then came the Mamas and Papas and I was stuck with it. And now people call me Mama Cass because of the baby. So I don't know whether I'm gonna be able to really get away from it.

On her dislike of being called "Mama" Cass.

I would love, in all honesty, to do another album with the Mamas and Papas sometime. I miss them. We're still friends and we want to be friends. Because you break up a successful group, which is really what I did, you know, there's some kind of karma here. I don't feel guilty about it; I left the group because I had to. That was being honest.

I say, "Look, I'm here now. There must be a reason I'm here." If that's fatalistic, be that as it may. Where my work is, is where my life is, and if we're falling in the ocean, we're falling into the ocean.

Encyclopedia
Cass Elliot born Ellen Naomi Cohen and also known as Mama Cass, was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 singer and member of The Mamas & the Papas
The Mamas & the Papas
The Mamas & the Papas were a Canadian/American vocal group of the 1960s . The group recorded and performed from 1965 to 1968 with a short reunion in 1971, releasing five albums and 11 Top 40 hit singles...

. After the group broke up, she released five solo albums. Elliot was found dead in her room in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, England, from an apparent heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 after two weeks of sold-out performances at the Palladium
London Palladium
The London Palladium is a 2,286 seat West End theatre located off Oxford Street in the City of Westminster. From the roster of stars who have played there and many televised performances, it is arguably the most famous theatre in London and the United Kingdom, especially for musical variety...

. In 1998, Elliot, John Phillips
John Phillips (musician)
John Edmund Andrew Phillips , was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter and promoter . Known as Papa John, Phillips was a member and leader of the singing group The Mamas & the Papas...

, Denny Doherty
Denny Doherty
Dennis Gerrard Stephen Doherty was a Canadian singer and songwriter. He was most widely known as a founding member of the 1960s musical group The Mamas & the Papas.-Early career:...

, and Michelle Phillips
Michelle Phillips
Michelle Phillips is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She gained fame as a member of the 1960s group The Mamas & the Papas, and is the last surviving original member of the group.-Early life:...

 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

 for their work as The Mamas & the Papas.

Early life and career


Ellen Cohen was born to Philip and Bess Cohen in Baltimore, Maryland, where she grew up. The family then moved to Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.Like the rest of northern Virginia, as well as...

 (a suburb of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

). She adopted the name "Cass" in high school – possibly, as Denny Doherty
Denny Doherty
Dennis Gerrard Stephen Doherty was a Canadian singer and songwriter. He was most widely known as a founding member of the 1960s musical group The Mamas & the Papas.-Early career:...

 tells it, borrowing it from the actress Peggy Cass
Peggy Cass
Mary Margaret “Peggy” Cass was an American actress, comedian, game show panelist, and announcer.A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Cass became interested in acting as a member of the drama club at Cambridge Latin School; however, she attended all of high school without a speaking part...

 – but in any case, it was "Cass", not "Cassandra". She assumed the surname Elliot sometime later, in memory of a friend who had died.

While still attending George Washington High School
George Washington Middle School (Virginia)
George Washington Middle School is located at 1005 Mount Vernon Avenue in the city of Alexandria, Virginia. It first opened in 1935 as a merger of two prior high schools named Alexandria and George Mason...

, she became interested in acting and was cast in a school production of the play The Boy Friend
The Boy Friend
The Boy Friend is a musical by Sandy Wilson. The musical's original 1954 London production ran for 2,078 performances, making it briefly the third-longest running musical in West End or Broadway history until it was surpassed by Salad Days...

. She left high school shortly before graduation and relocated to New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 to further her acting career, and toured in the musical The Music Man
The Music Man
The Music Man is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys' band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to naive townsfolk before skipping town with...

, but lost the part of Miss Marmelstein in I Can Get It for You Wholesale
I Can Get It for You Wholesale
I Can Get It for You Wholesale is a musical with music and lyrics by Harold Rome and a book by Jerome Weidman based on his 1937 novel of the same title. It marked the Broadway debut of 19-year-old Barbra Streisand, who was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in...

to Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand
Barbra Joan Streisand is an American singer, actress, film producer and director. She has won two Academy Awards, eight Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Peabody Award, and is one of the few entertainers who have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy,...

 in 1962.


While working as a cloakroom attendant at The Showplace in Greenwich Village, Elliot would sometimes sing, but it wasn't until she returned to the Washington area, to attend American University
American University
American University is a private, Methodist, liberal arts, and research university in Washington, D.C. The university was chartered by an Act of Congress on December 5, 1892 as "The American University", which was approved by President Benjamin Harrison on February 24, 1893...

, that she began to pursue a singing career. As America's folk music scene was on the rise, Elliot met banjoist and singer Tim Rose
Tim Rose
Timothy Alan Patrick Rose , best known professionally as Tim Rose, was an American singer-songwriter, who spent much of his life in London, England and had more success in Europe than in his native country...

 and singer John Brown, and the three began performing as The Triumvirate. In 1963, James Hendricks replaced Brown and the trio was renamed The Big Three. Elliot's first recording with The Big Three was Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
"Wynken, Blynken, and Nod" is a popular poem for children written by American writer and poet Eugene Field and published on March 9, 1889. The original title was Dutch Lullaby....

, was released by FM Records in 1963.

When Tim Rose left The Big Three in 1964, Elliot and Hendricks teamed with Canadians Zal Yanovsky
Zal Yanovsky
Zalman "Zal" Yanovsky was a Canadian rock musician. Born in Toronto, he was the son of political cartoonist Avrom Yanovsky. He played lead guitar and sang for the Lovin' Spoonful, a rock band which he founded with John Sebastian in 1964...

 and Denny Doherty
Denny Doherty
Dennis Gerrard Stephen Doherty was a Canadian singer and songwriter. He was most widely known as a founding member of the 1960s musical group The Mamas & the Papas.-Early career:...

 as The Mugwumps
The Mugwumps
The Mugwumps were a 1960s rock band. The Mugwumps made some recordings in the mid-60s, but the short-lived New York group, formed in 1964, is principally remembered for what its members did after they split up....

. This group lasted eight months, after which Cass performed as a solo act for a while. Yanovsky joined with John Sebastian
John Sebastian
John Benson Sebastian Jr. is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and autoharpist. He is best known as a founder of The Lovin' Spoonful, a band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000...

 to co-found The Lovin' Spoonful
The Lovin' Spoonful
The Lovin' Spoonful is an American pop rock band of the 1960s, named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. When asked about his band, leader John Sebastian said it sounded like a combination of "Mississippi John Hurt and Chuck Berry," prompting his friend, Fritz Richmond, to suggest the name...

 while Doherty joined The New Journeymen, a group that also included John Phillips
John Phillips (musician)
John Edmund Andrew Phillips , was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter and promoter . Known as Papa John, Phillips was a member and leader of the singing group The Mamas & the Papas...

 and his wife, Michelle
Michelle Phillips
Michelle Phillips is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She gained fame as a member of the 1960s group The Mamas & the Papas, and is the last surviving original member of the group.-Early life:...

. In 1965, Doherty convinced Phillips that Cass should join the group. She did so while she and the group members were vacationing in the Virgin Islands
Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands are the western island group of the Leeward Islands, which are the northern part of the Lesser Antilles, which form the border between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean...

.

A popular legend about Elliot is that her vocal range was improved by three notes after she was hit on the head by some copper tubing shortly before joining The New Journeymen in the Virgin Islands. Elliot herself confirmed the story in a 1968 interview with Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

magazine, saying,

However, friends later said that the pipe story was a less embarrassing explanation for why John Phillips had kept her out of the group for so long, the real reason being, he considered her too fat.

The Mamas and the Papas


With two female members, The New Journeymen needed a new name. According to Doherty, Elliot had the inspiration for the band's new name, as Doherty writes on his website:

Doherty also says that the occasion marked the beginning of his affair with Michelle Phillips. Elliot, who was in love with Doherty, was displeased when he told her of the affair. Doherty has said that she once proposed to him, but that he was so stoned at the time, he could not even respond.

Elliot, known for her sense of humor and optimism, was considered by some to be the most charismatic member of the group. Her powerful, distinctive voice was a large factor in their success. She is best remembered for her vocals on the group's hits "California Dreamin'
California Dreamin'
"California Dreamin is a popular song by The Mamas & the Papas, first released in 1965. The song is #89 in Rolling Stones list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time...

", "Monday Monday", and "Words of Love", and particularly for the solo "Dream a Little Dream of Me", which the group recorded in 1968 after learning about the death of Fabian Andre
Fabian Andre
Fabian Andre was an American composer, best known for cowriting the music of "Dream a Little Dream of Me" with Wilbur Schwandt in 1931. Popular in its time, the song was revived when covered by The Mamas & the Papas after Andre's death in Mexico City in 1960.-External links:*...

, one of the men who co-wrote it, whom Michelle Phillips had met years earlier. Elliot's version is noteworthy for its contemplative pace, whereas almost all earlier recordings of "Dream a Little Dream of Me" (including one by Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole
Nathaniel Adams Coles , known professionally as Nat King Cole, was an American musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. Although an accomplished pianist, he owes most of his popular musical fame to his soft baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres...

) had been up-tempo versions — the song having actually been written in 1931 as a dance tune for the nightclubs of the day.

Elliot was also something of a sex symbol for the hippy culture, appearing nude and semi-covered in daisies for a Cheetah magazine poster. Also, Michelle Phillips and John Phillips remember several instances of audience members screaming out their love and throwing their room keys to Cass.

The Mamas & the Papas continued to record to meet the terms of their record contract until their final album was released in 1971.

Solo career


After the breakup of The Mamas & the Papas, Elliot embarked on a solo singing career. Her most successful recording during this period was 1968's Dream a Little Dream of Me from her solo album of the same name
Dream a Little Dream (Cass Elliot album)
Dream a Little Dream was the first solo album by singer Cass Elliot immediately after the break-up of The Mamas & the Papas. Capitalizing on the success of her first solo song as the album's title, the record was released on October 19, 1968 by Dunhill Records...

, released by Dunhill Records
Dunhill Records
Dunhill Records was started by Lou Adler, Al Bennett, Pierre Cossette and Bobby Roberts in 1964 as Dunhill Productions, originally for the purpose of releasing Johnny Rivers recordings on Imperial Records. It became a record label in 1965 and was distributed by ABC Records...

 though it had originally been released on the album The Papas & the Mamas Presented By The Mamas and the Papas earlier that year. She headlined briefly in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is an approximately stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard in Clark County, Nevada; adjacent to, but outside the city limits of Las Vegas proper. The Strip lies within the unincorporated townships of Paradise and Winchester...

 at Caesars Palace
Caesars Palace
Caesars Palace is a luxury hotel and casino located on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada, an unincorporated township in Clark County, Nevada, United States in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Caesars Palace is owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment Corp....

 for $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

40,000 per week, but her performances were not well reviewed.

Elliot had two television variety specials: The Mama Cass Television Show (ABC, 1969) and Don't Call Me Mama Anymore (CBS, 1973). She was a regular guest on TV talk shows and variety shows in the 1970s, including The Julie Andrews Hour
The Julie Andrews Hour
The Julie Andrews Hour is a television variety series starring Julie Andrews that was produced by ATV and distributed by ITC Entertainment. It aired on the ABC network in the United States....

, The Mike Douglas Show
The Mike Douglas Show
The Mike Douglas Show is an American daytime television talk show hosted by Mike Douglas that aired in syndication from 1961 to 1982, distributed by Westinghouse Broadcasting and for much of its run, originated from studios of two of the company's TV stations.The program featured light banter with...

, The Andy Williams Show
The Andy Williams Show
The Andy Williams Show is a television variety show which ran from 1959 to 1971 , and a short-lived run in syndication, beginning in the fall of 1976...

, Hollywood Squares
Hollywood Squares
Hollywood Squares is an American panel game show in which two contestants play tic-tac-toe to win cash and prizes. The "board" for the game is a 3 × 3 vertical stack of open-faced cubes, each occupied by a celebrity seated at a desk and facing the contestants...

, "The Johnny Cash Show" and The Carol Burnett Show
The Carol Burnett Show
The Carol Burnett Show is a variety / sketch comedy television show starring Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, and Tim Conway. It originally ran on CBS from September 11, 1967, to March 29, 1978, for 278 episodes and originated from CBS Television City's Studio 33...

and was a guest panelist for a week on the game show Match Game '73
Match Game
Match Game is an American television game show in which contestants attempted to match celebrities' answers to fill-in-the-blank questions...

. She guest-hosted for Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
John William "Johnny" Carson was an American television host and comedian, known as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 30 years . Carson received six Emmy Awards including the Governor Award and a 1985 Peabody Award; he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987...

 on The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show is an American late-night talk show that has aired on NBC since 1954. It is the longest currently running regularly scheduled entertainment program in the United States, and the third longest-running show on NBC, after Meet the Press and Today.The Tonight Show has been hosted by...

and appeared on that show 13 other times. She also appeared on and co-hosted The Music Scene on ABC and was featured on the first The Midnight Special
The Midnight Special (TV series)
The Midnight Special is an American musical variety series that aired on NBC during the 1970s and early 1980s, created and produced by Burt Sugarman. It premiered as a special on August 19, 1972, then began its run as a regular series on February 2, 1973; its last episode was on May 1, 1981...

on NBC. She performed in Saga of Sonora, a 1973 TV music-comedy-western special with Jill St. John
Jill St. John
Jill St. John is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Tiffany Case, the lead Bond girl in Diamonds Are Forever.-Early life:...

, Vince Edwards
Vince Edwards
Vince Edwards was an American actor, director, and singer, best known for the roles of TV doctor "Ben Casey", and Maj. Cliff Bricker in the 1968 war film The Devil's Brigade.-Early life:...

, Zero Mostel
Zero Mostel
Samuel Joel “Zero” Mostel was an American actor of stage and screen, best known for his portrayal of comic characters such as Tevye on stage in Fiddler on the Roof, Pseudolus on stage and on screen in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Max Bialystock in the original film version...

, and Lesley Ann Warren
Lesley Ann Warren
Lesley Ann Warren is an American actress and singer. She has been nominated once for an Academy Award and Emmy Awards and five times for Golden Globe, winning one....

. She also sang the jingle "Hurry on down to Hardee's, where the burgers are charco-broiled" for Hardee's
Hardee's
Hardee's is a restaurant chain, located mostly in the Southeast and Midwestern regions of the United States. It has evolved through several corporate ownerships since its establishment in 1960. It is currently owned and operated by CKE Restaurants. Along with its sibling restaurant chain, Carl's...

 fast-food advertisements.

Throughout the early 1970s, Elliot continued her acting career as well. She had a featured role in the 1970 movie Pufnstuf
Pufnstuf (film)
Pufnstuf is a 1970 feature film based on the television series H.R. Pufnstuf.-Plot:Jimmy ventures to Living Island with his magical, talking flute, Freddy...

and made guest appearances on TV's The New Scooby-Doo Movies
The New Scooby-Doo Movies
The New Scooby-Doo Movies is the second incarnation of the Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. It premiered on September 9, 1972 and ran for two seasons on CBS as the only hour-long Scooby-Doo series...

, Young Dr. Kildare
Young Dr. Kildare
Young Dr. Kildare is a 1938 film starring Lew Ayres as an idealistic but somewhat immature young medical doctor, who benefits greatly from the wise counsel of his mentor, Dr. Gillespie, a seasoned older physician. This was the second of a total of ten Dr...

, Love, American Style
Love, American Style
Love, American Style is an hour-long TV anthology produced by Paramount Television and originally aired between September 1969 and January 1974...

, and The Red Skelton Show
The Red Skelton Show
The Red Skelton Show is an American variety show that was a television staple for two decades, from 1951 to 1971. It was second to Gunsmoke and third to The Ed Sullivan Show in the ratings during that time. Skelton, who had previously been a radio star, had appeared in several motion pictures as...

, among others.

Family and death


Elliot was married twice, the first time in 1963 to James Hendricks, her groupmate in The Big Three and The Mugwumps. This was reportedly a platonic arrangement to assist him in avoiding being drafted into the army during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

; the marriage reportedly was never consummated
Consummation
Consummation is the initial sexual act made within a marriage.Consummation can also refer to:* Consummation , 1970 recordingSee also:* Consummation of days, event predicted in Daniel Chapter 12, verses 1-4...

 and was annulled in 1968. In 1971, Elliot married journalist Baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

 Donald von Wiedenman who was heir to a Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

n barony. Their marriage ended in divorce after a few months.

Elliot gave birth to a daughter, Owen Vanessa Elliot, on April 26, 1967. She never publicly identified the father, but many years later, Michelle Phillips
Michelle Phillips
Michelle Phillips is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She gained fame as a member of the 1960s group The Mamas & the Papas, and is the last surviving original member of the group.-Early life:...

 helped Owen locate her biological father. Owen grew up to become a singer as well and toured with former Beach Boy Al Jardine
Al Jardine
Alan Charles "Al" Jardine is a founding member of top-selling American music group The Beach Boys, a guitarist and occasional lead vocalist. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.-Early life:...

.

At the height of her solo career in 1974, Elliot performed two weeks of sold-out concerts at the London Palladium
London Palladium
The London Palladium is a 2,286 seat West End theatre located off Oxford Street in the City of Westminster. From the roster of stars who have played there and many televised performances, it is arguably the most famous theatre in London and the United Kingdom, especially for musical variety...

. She telephoned Michelle Phillips after the final concert on July 28, elated that she had received standing ovations each night. She then retired for the evening, and died in her sleep at age 32. Sources state her death was due to a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

. Elliot died in a London flat, No. 12 at 9 Curzon Place, Shepherd Market
Shepherd Market
Shepherd Market is a small square in the Mayfair area of central London, England. It is located between Piccadilly and Curzon Street and has a village-like atmosphere.- History :...

, Mayfair
Mayfair
Mayfair is an area of central London, within the City of Westminster.-History:Mayfair is named after the annual fortnight-long May Fair that took place on the site that is Shepherd Market today...

 which was on loan from singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson
Harry Nilsson
Harry Edward Nilsson III was an American singer-songwriter who achieved the peak of his commercial success in the early 1970s. On all but his earliest recordings he is credited as Nilsson...

. Four years later, The Who
The Who
The Who are an English rock band formed in 1964 by Roger Daltrey , Pete Townshend , John Entwistle and Keith Moon . They became known for energetic live performances which often included instrument destruction...

's drummer Keith Moon
Keith Moon
Keith John Moon was an English musician, best known for being the drummer of the English rock group The Who. He gained acclaim for his exuberant and innovative drumming style, and notoriety for his eccentric and often self-destructive behaviour, earning him the nickname "Moon the Loon". Moon...

 died in the same flat at the same age.

Elliot was entombed in Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery
Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery
Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries refers to two Jewish cemeteries in the Los Angeles, California metropolitan area. The original cemetery is located at 5950 Forest Lawn Drive in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. The cemetery was originally established in 1953 by the neighboring Forest...

 in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

. After her death, Elliot's younger sister, Leah Kunkel, received custody of Cass' daughter Owen, then just seven years old. Kunkel is also a singer and charted in 1984 as a member of the Coyote Sisters
Coyote Sisters
The Coyote Sisters are an American pop-rock female trio formed in 1980. Its members are Leah Kunkel , Marty Gwinn Townsend and Renee Armand. In 1984 they released their self-titled debut LP on Morocco records, a subsidiary of Motown...

 on the single "Straight From The Heart (Into Your Life)". Kunkel was interviewed by VH1
VH1
VH1 or Vh1 is an American cable television network based in New York City. Launched on January 1, 1985 in the old space of Turner Broadcasting's short-lived Cable Music Channel, the original purpose of the channel was to build on the success of MTV by playing music videos, but targeting a slightly...

 in 1997 and discussed her sister for the "Mamas & Papas" episode of the network's documentary series Behind The Music
Behind the Music
Behind the Music is a television series on VH1. It originally ran from 1997 to 2006, before it was stopped and only aired new episodes sporadically. The series places its generality on documentation of musical artists or groups who are interviewed and profiled, and discuss how their careers became...

.


An oft-repeated urban myth
Urban legend
An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true...

 states that Elliot choked to death on a ham sandwich. The story, which started following the discovery of her body, was based on speculation in the initial media coverage. Police had told reporters that a partially eaten sandwich found in her room might have been to blame, though an autopsy
Autopsy
An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, necropsy , autopsia cadaverum, or obduction—is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present...

 had yet to be conducted. Despite the post-mortem examination finding that Elliot had died of a heart attack and no food at all was found in her windpipe
Vertebrate trachea
In tetrapod anatomy the trachea, or windpipe, is a tube that connects the pharynx or larynx to the lungs, allowing the passage of air. It is lined with pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium cells with goblet cells that produce mucus...

, the false story that she choked on a sandwich has persisted in the decades following her death.

Tributes, other popular culture references, and barbs


The song "Mama, I Remember You Now" by the Swedish artist Marit Bergman
Marit Bergman
-Biography:She grew up in Rättvik but now lives in Brooklyn. She was a member of the 1990s Swedish punk band Candysuck. She has also been playing and recording with other musical constellations. However, it is as a solo artist, as Marit Bergman, that she has risen to national fame, debuting in...

 is a tribute to Elliot. She was the subject of a 2004 stage production in Dublin, The Songs of Mama Cass, with Kristin Kapelli performing main vocals. The Crosby, Stills & Nash Greatest Hits album released in 2005 was dedicated to Cass Elliot. The British film Beautiful Thing
Beautiful Thing
Originally Beautiful Thing is a play written by Jonathan Harvey and first performed in 1993. A screen adaptation of the play was released in 1996 by Channel 4 Films, with a revised screenplay also by Harvey. Initially, the film was only intended for television broadcast but it was so well-received...

heavily features her recordings, and the memory of her plays a role in the life of one character.

Anthony Kiedis
Anthony Kiedis
Anthony Kiedis is an American vocalist/lyricist, and occasional actor best known as the lead vocalist of the Grammy-winning American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Kiedis spent his youth in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his mother before moving, shortly before his 12th birthday, to Hollywood,...

 of Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Red Hot Chili Peppers is an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles in 1983. The group's musical style primarily consists of rock with an emphasis on funk, as well as elements from other genres such as punk, hip hop and psychedelic rock...

 cited The Mamas & the Papas
The Mamas & the Papas
The Mamas & the Papas were a Canadian/American vocal group of the 1960s . The group recorded and performed from 1965 to 1968 with a short reunion in 1971, releasing five albums and 11 Top 40 hit singles...

, and especially Elliot as an influence, in an interview for Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

, saying, "There have been times when I've been very down and out in my life, and the sound of her voice has sort of given me a reason to want to carry on." Boy George
Boy George
Boy George is a British singer-songwriter who was part of the English New Romantic movement which emerged in the early 1980s. He helped give androgyny an international stage with the success of Culture Club during the 1980s. His music is often classified as blue-eyed soul, which is influenced by...

 and k.d. lang
K.D. Lang
Kathryn Dawn Lang, OC , known by her stage name k.d. lang, is a Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter and occasional actress...

 also cited Elliot as an influence. George described her as "the greatest white female singer ever". Beth Ditto
Beth Ditto
Mary Beth Patterson, known by her stage name Beth Ditto , is an American singer-songwriter, most famous for her work with the indie rock band Gossip.-Personal life:...

, singer of the band Gossip
Gossip (band)
Gossip is a three-piece American indie rock band formed in 1999. The band consists of singer Beth Ditto, guitarist Brace Paine and drummer Hannah Blilie. After releasing several recordings, the band broke through with their 2006 studio album, Standing in the Way of Control . A follow-up, Music for...

, named Elliot both as music and fashion inspiration, saying, "I really wanted to sound like Mama Cass growing up."

Elliot's recording of "Make Your Own Kind of Music" is featured prominently in several episodes of seasons 2 and 3 of Lost
Lost (TV series)
Lost is an American television series that originally aired on ABC from September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010, consisting of six seasons. Lost is a drama series that follows the survivors of the crash of a commercial passenger jet flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, on a mysterious tropical island...

.
Her recording of "It's Getting Better" was also featured in a season 4 episode
Meet Kevin Johnson
"Meet Kevin Johnson" is the 80th television episode of the American Broadcasting Company's Lost and the eighth episode of the fourth season. It was written in October and November 2007 by supervising producer Elizabeth Sarnoff and co-producer Brian K. Vaughan, and directed in November by...

.

Elliot is mentioned as one of the upcoming concert acts in the Stephen King
Stephen King
Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy fiction. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books...

 short story "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band
You Know They Got a Hell of a Band
"You Know They Got a Hell of a Band" is a short story by Stephen King. It was first published in the horror anthology Shock Rock and later included in King's collection Nightmares and Dreamscapes, concerning a young couple on a road trip in Oregon when they accidentally wander into a small town...

", which concerns a couple who wander into a small town inhabited by dead rock and roll legends.

Since her death, Elliot and the circumstances surrounding her death have been the butt of numerous jokes in comedy routines, movies, and songs, by performers such as Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa
Frank Vincent Zappa was an American composer, singer-songwriter, electric guitarist, record producer and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, orchestral and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed...

, Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler
Adam Richard Sandler is an American actor, comedian, screenwriter, musician, and film producer.After becoming a Saturday Night Live cast member, Sandler went on to star in several Hollywood feature films that grossed over $100 million at the box office...

, Denis Leary
Denis Leary
Denis Colin Leary is an Irish-American actor, comedian, writer and director. Leary is known for his biting, fast paced comedic style and chain smoking...

, Mike Myers
Mike Myers (actor)
Michael John "Mike" Myers is a Canadian actor, comedian, screenwriter, and film producer of British parentage...

 (in the first Austin Powers movie
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is a 1997 American science fiction/action-comedy film and the first film of the Austin Powers series. It was directed by Jay Roach and written by Mike Myers who also stars in the title role. Myers also plays Dr. Evil, Austin Powers' arch-enemy...

), "Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" Yankovic
Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic is an American singer-songwriter, music producer, accordionist, actor, comedian, writer, satirist, and parodist. Yankovic is known for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and that often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts...

, Robin Williams
Robin Williams
Robin McLaurin Williams is an American actor and comedian. Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork and Mindy, and later stand-up comedy work, Williams has performed in many feature films since 1980. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance...

, and others.

Industrial musician Foetus
Foetus (band)
Foetus is the primary musical outlet of industrial music pioneer J. G. Thirlwell. Until 1995 the band underwent various name changes, all including the word foetus. Monikers adopted at different times include Foetus Under Glass, You've Got Foetus On Your Breath and Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel...

 mentions that he is the one that "gave the sandwich to Mama Cass" in the song Throne Of Agony.

The Big Three

  • The big 3
    The Big 3 (album)
    -Track list:#Tony and Delia#Grandfather's clock#Wild Women#Come Away Melinda#Young Girl's lament#Banjo song#Winken Blinken and Nod#Nora's dove #Rider#Dark as a dungeon...

     (1963)
  • Live at the Recording Studio
    Live at the Recording Studio
    Live at the Recording Studio is the second and last album by folk vocal trio The Big Three-Track list:#I may be right#Sing Hallelujah#Anna Fia #Silkie#Ringo#Down in the valley#All the pretty little horses#Glory glory#Ho honey ho#Come along...

     (1964)

The Mamas and the Papas

  • If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
    If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
    If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears is the 1966 debut album by The Mamas & the Papas . In 2003, the album was ranked number 127 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time....

     (1966)
  • The Mamas & the Papas (1966)
  • The Mamas and the Papas Deliver
    The Mamas and the Papas Deliver
    Deliver is a 1967 album by The Mamas & the Papas. It was their third album release. The album charted second in Billboards "Top Pop" albums for 1967...

     (1967)
  • The Papas & The Mamas
    The Papas & The Mamas
    The Papas & The Mamas is a 1968 album by The Mamas & the Papas. It was their final album together before the group temporarily broke up before a brief 1971 reunion....

     (1968)
  • People Like Us (1971)

Solo

  • 1968: Dream a Little Dream
    Dream a Little Dream (Cass Elliot album)
    Dream a Little Dream was the first solo album by singer Cass Elliot immediately after the break-up of The Mamas & the Papas. Capitalizing on the success of her first solo song as the album's title, the record was released on October 19, 1968 by Dunhill Records...

    - US #87
  • 1969: Bubblegum, Lemonade, and... Something for Mama
    Bubblegum, Lemonade, and... Something for Mama
    Bubblegum, Lemonade and… Something for Mama is the second solo album released by Cass Elliot. It was recorded in 1969 and arranged and produced by Steve Barri. The album was originally released on July 5, 1969 with only 11 tracks. It was released again on December 6, 1969 under a new title and with...

    - US #91
  • 1969: Make Your Own Kind of Music - US #169 (a reissue of Bubblegum, Lemonade... with the hit title song added)
  • 1971: Mama's Big Ones
    Mama's Big Ones
    Mama’s Big Ones is the third solo album released by Cass Elliot. It was also the last studio album she released for Dunhill in order to fulfill her three album deal.-Conception:...

    (solo greatest hits) - US #194
  • 1971: Dave Mason & Cass Elliot
    Dave Mason & Cass Elliot
    Dave Mason & Cass Elliot was the only teaming of artists Dave Mason and Cass Elliot. The album was produced by both Mason and Elliot and recorded in 1970...

    - US #49
  • 1972: Cass Elliot
    Cass Elliot (album)
    Cass Elliot is the fourth studio album released by Cass Elliot and the first album recorded for RCA Records. The album was recorded in late 1971 at RCA’s Music Center of the World in Hollywood at 6363 Sunset and originally released in February 1972...

  • 1972: The Road Is No Place for a Lady
  • 1973: Don't Call Me Mama Anymore

Singles



  • 1968: "Dream a Little Dream of Me" (Mama Cass with the Mamas & the Papas) - US #12 Pop/#2 AC, UK
    UK Singles Chart
    The UK Singles Chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company on behalf of the British record-industry. The full chart contains the top selling 200 singles in the United Kingdom based upon combined record sales and download numbers, though some media outlets only list the Top 40 or the Top 75 ...

     #11
  • 1968: "California Earthquake" - US #67
  • 1969: "Move in a Little Closer, Baby" - US #58 Pop/#32 AC
  • 1969: "It's Getting Better
    It's Getting Better (Cass Elliot song)
    It's Getting Better is a song written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil that was a sunshine pop hit single in 1969 for Cass Elliot.The song describes the singer's satisfaction with a love relationship that is down-to-earth rather than extravagantly romantic, a subgenre of love song exemplified by the...

    " - US #30 Pop/#13 AC, UK #8
  • 1969: "Make Your Own Kind of Music" - US #36 Pop/#6 AC
  • 1970: "New World Coming" - US #42 Pop/#4 AC
  • 1970: "A Song That Never Comes" - US #99 Pop/#25 AC
  • 1970: "The Good Times Are Coming" - US #104 Pop/#19 AC
  • 1970: "Don't Let the Good Life Pass You By" - US #110 Pop/#34 AC

External links