Maria Cole was part of entertainment royalty. Singing legend Nat King Cole, and their daughter Natalie, had many pop hits to their credit. Maria was also a fine entertainer in her own right during the Big Band era, and beyond.
Working with the Benny Carter Band, and most notably, as the female vocalist for Count Basie and Duke Ellington Orchestra, Maria Cole also recorded several songs with her husband on Capitol Records. She was a sensation around the lounge room-circuit in Southern California and New York during the 1950′s. She appeared numerous times on the Ed Sullivan Show. Maria also briefly co-hosted a local daytime television talk show in Los Angeles.
A first marriage, in 1943 to Tuskegee Airman Spurgeon Ellington, ended with his death during World War II. Nat Cole married her in 1948, and the union lasted until his death of lung cancer in 1965. He had just completed work on Cat Ballou.
After his passing, Maria engaged in charity work, forming the Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc. Her children are asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to their family charity.
Maria Cole was 89.
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