Born Ellen Naomi Cohen in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, she was a member of the Mamas and the Papas singing quartet.
There are differing stories as to where she adopted the name of Cass. It is thought that she took the name while at High School as a tribute to actress Peggy Cass, although it has also been said that her father nicknamed her Cass after the Trojan prophetess of the same name. The Elliott surname was to honour a friend who had died in a road accident.
The Mamas and the Papas has numerous hits including Monday, Monday and California Dreaming and after they broke up she went on to develop a successful solo career.
A rather large lady, she was certainly proof that you didn’t need to have film star looks or be as skinny as a rake to be successful. Standing at 5ft 5ins tall and weighing approx. 18 stone, she often went on a variety of crash diets, presumably weakening her body in the process.
She passed away at the very young age of 32 after performing 2 sold out shows at the London Palladium. She returned to the Mayfair flat she had been borrowing (owned by Harry Nilsson), the same flat where drummer Keith Moon would die 4 years later – see post “Moon the Loon at 70”
|With Johnny Cash|
Her passing was finally attributed to heart failure, although for many years there was an urban legend that she had choked to death (a half eaten sandwich was found at the scene).
Another star who left us far too early, she had an amazing contralto voice and who knows the fame she may have achieved had she lived.