Fitzgerald, Ella (Jane)
- J. Bradford Robinson
(b Newport News, VA, April 25, 1917; d Beverly Hills, CA, June 15, 1996). American jazz and popular singer. She was an illegitimate child who never knew her father, and was brought up in Yonkers, New York. After her mother died in 1932, she lived with an aunt and then briefly at an orphanage, in Harlem. Having run away from the orphanage, she was homeless when in November 1934 she won an amateur contest at the Apollo Theatre. This led to an engagement in March 1935 with Chick Webb's band, and she soon became a celebrity of the swing era with performances such as A-tisket, A-tasket (1938, Decca) and Undecided (1939, Decca). When Webb died in 1939, Fitzgerald took over the direction of the band, which she led for three years. She then embarked on a solo career, issuing commercial and jazz recordings, and in 1946...