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Ellen Naomi Cohen, better known by her stage name Cass Elliot, was an American actress and singer. She was most well-known for being a member of “The Mamas & the Papas” group. She moved to New York in the early 1960s after beginning her singing and acting careers in high school. After graduating from high school, she started her career as a theatrical actress before deciding to become a singer. Elliot founded the musical ensemble “Big Three” with Tim Rose and James Hendricks at the same time when the folk music craze was sweeping the nation. In the middle of the 1960s, Elliot formed the Mamas & the Papas with Michelle and John Phillips. The songs “Words of Love,” “California Dreamin,” and “Monday, Monday” were all huge hits for this ensemble. She continued to make music after the band split up, putting out five solo albums. She performed in a few small and large-scale films, including “Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery,” as well as occasional acting roles. The actress and singer had one daughter and two marriages throughout her life. At the age of 32, she passed away from a heart attack on July 29, 1974. She received a posthumous induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 in recognition of her work with the Mamas & the Papas.

Early Childhood & Life

Ellen Naomi Cohen was given the name Cass Elliot at birth on September 19, 1941 in Baltimore, Maryland. Philip Cohen, her father, ran a number of businesses. Even though he initially struggled with money, he eventually managed to run a successful lunch cart business. Bess, her mother, had nursing training. Joseph and Leah, Elliot’s siblings, were both male. Leah Kunkel, her sister’s real name, is a singer and a recording artist.

Elliot was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, before relocating to Baltimore at the age of 15. She first attended Forest Park High School after finishing her studies at George Washington High School.

Career in Music

Cass Elliot found a love for performing while attending Forest Park. Eventually, she was offered a small role in the Maryland premiere of the play “The Boy Friend.”

She traveled with the 1962 musical “The Music Man” after graduating from high school and relocating to New York City to seek a career in the entertainment business.

The Triumvirate was formed when she later met singers John Brown and Tim Rose. James Hendricks took over for Brown in 1963, and the group’s name was changed to “Big 3.” Cass collaborated with the band “Winkin’, Blinkin’, and Nod” that year to produce her debut song, which FM Records later released.

The ensemble performed at The Bitter End, a nightclub in Greenwich Village, as part of a “open mic” night event in 1964. Tim Rose left the Big 3 in the same year, and Elliot and Hendricks formed Mugwumps with Canadians Denny Doherty and Zal Yanovsky. Elliot performed solo for a spell after the ensemble performed for around eight months.
Denny Doherty invited Cass Elliot to join the New Journeymen, a group that also included John Phillips and his wife Michelle, in the middle of the 1960s. Later, this ensemble adopted the name The Mamas & the Papas.
Elliot went on to record multiple singles with The Mamas & the Papas, including “California Dreamin’,” “Words of Love,” and “Monday, Monday.” The group’s albums “If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears” and “The Mamas & the Papas” were both released in 1966. The band disbanded in 1968.

Dream a Little Dream, the solo album by Cass Elliot, was released in 1968 and features the songs “Dream a Little Dream of Me” and “California Earthquake.” On the US charts, these songs eventually peaked at #12 and #67.
In 1969, Elliot released her second album, a solo effort titled “Make Your Own Kind of Music.” Then, in 1970, she published “Mama’s Big Ones,” which featured the hits “The Good Times Are Coming” and “New World Coming.”
She only released one album with Dave Mason, “Dave Mason & Cass Elliot,” in 1971. It appeared on the US Billboard chart at position #49. She later regrouped with the other Mamas & Papas members to record and release their final studio album, “People Like Us,” in November of the same year.

Career in Television and Film

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Cass Elliot appeared in two television variety specials: CBS’s “Don’t Call Me Mama Anymore” and ABC’s “The Mama Cass Television Show.”

She frequently appeared on variety and discussion shows in the early 1970s, such as “The Mike Douglas Show,” “Hollywood Squares,” “The Andy Williams Show,” “The Johnny Cash Show,” “The Carol Burnett Show,” and “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.”

In 1970, she appeared in the movie “Pufnstuf.” She made appearances on the television program “The Julie Andrews Hour” two years later.

Along with Zero Mostel, Vince Edwards, Lesley Ann Warren, and Jill St. John, the American vocalist appeared in the 1973 music-comedy-western program ‘Saga of Sonora’.
She frequently appeared as a guest on “The Tonight Show.” In addition, she co-hosted ABC’s “The Music Scene” and made appearances in films like “Love, American Style,” “The Red Skelton Show,” and “The New Scooby-Doo Movies.”

Legal Concerns & Disputes

Cass Elliot was detained in 1967 while she was living in London for stealing bed linens from an apartment. The accusations against the singer were dropped in this instance at the West London magistrates’ court because there was no supporting evidence. Later, she acknowledged to having carried out the act.

Addiction to drugs

Cass Elliot was scheduled to give three weeks’ worth of live solo performances at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in October 1968. She arrived on stage, however, for the performance’s opening night with little preparation and a sickly appearance. The audience booed her performance since it was so subpar.

Rumors that Cass Elliot had been abusing drugs previous to her disastrous Las Vegas performance quickly surfaced after the performance. The singer acknowledged to a partner that she had used heroin just before going on stage, according to Eddi Fiegel’s biography, which was published later.

Individual Life of Cass Elliot

In her lifetime, Cass Elliot was married twice. Her first union, in 1963, was with James Hendricks, another member of her band. The union was never finished, and it was later declared null and void in 1968.
Owen Vanessa Elliot, the singer-turned-actress’s first child, was born in 1967. Although she never made Chuck Day’s paternity known in public, it was later made known that he was Owen’s father.
Elliot wed journalist Donald von Wiedenman in 1971. A few months later, the couple filed for divorce.
Following her passing, her sister Leah was given custody of Owen, who she reared alongside her own son Nathaniel. Owen thereafter went on to start singing.

Demise and Legacy

Cass Elliot passed out in the ‘The Tonight Show’ studio on April 22, 1974, just before her planned appearance. After being admitted to the hospital, she was eventually released.

Her final moments were spent in her London apartment on July 29, 1974. Later, a heart attack was determined to be the cause of death by Keith Simpson’s autopsy. At the time, she had just turned 32.
In Los Angeles, California’s Mount Sinai Memorial Park, she was laid to rest.

To celebrate her return, the City of Baltimore designated August 15, 1973, as “Cass Elliot Day”.
In 1998, Elliot received a posthumous induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Elliot’s recordings appear in “Beautiful Thing,” a British play and film.

Marit Bergman, a Swedish musician, dedicated her song “Mama, I Remember You Now” to the late vocalist.
In 1982 and 2005, respectively, the Crosby, Stills & Nash band released the “Daylight Again” music video and the “Greatest Hits” CD as tributes to Elliot.

Fact Cass ‘Mama’ Cass was a moniker Elliot detested!
The popular drummer Keith Moon passed away four years later in the same London apartment where the actress and singer passed away.
The singer adopted the last name “Elliot” in honor of a friend who passed away.

Net Worth of Cass Elliot

The estimated net worth of Cass Elliot is around $1 million.