Here’s something the average person probably doesn’t know. The actress who played Vito Corleone’s wife Carmela in the first two Godfather movies (you know, the good ones) was also a very respected and influential jazz vocalist. Now in her eighties, Morgana King was a serious singer for many years before – and after – she became ‘mamma mia’ to all the Don’s offspring.
Born in New York as Maria Grazia Morgana Messina DeBerardinis, she was one of six children born to Sicilian immigrants. Her father was a prosperous businessman but his early death sent his family through some hard times. However, his love of music was apparently passed along to his daughter, because she began showing promise as a singer in her early years and by age 16 was appearing professionally as Morgana King.
By then it was the post-war years and she became immersed in the jazz world of that era, along the way marrying trumpeter Tony Fruscella and becoming friends with rising stars like Charlie Parker. Over the next decade or so she built experience by performing in the New York area and also began to find opportunities to hit the recording studio. By the early 1960s she had split with Tony but had become known as one of the most talented singers around, with a four-octave voice that dazzled listeners.
After remarrying (her second – and last – husband, jazz trombonist Willie Dennis, would die in an auto accident just a few years later) King reached what was probably the peak of her singing fame. Her signature song became 1964’s “A Taste Of Honey” but many of her records from this period are praised by serious jazz fans. Even after things slowed down musically and she turned to acting she continued to sing from time to time, and in the 1980s she again began to make music her main focus, to the delight of her many fans.
(Video removed at source.)