Ella Fitzgerald is known to jazz lovers throughout the world as the First Lady of Song.
Fitzgerald's innate jazz sense, her range and the purity of her tone filled her Beverly Hills home with trophies, awards and the autographed photographs of famous people who admired her—as she admired them in return.
She remained in the jazz spotlight for more than half a century even though her health eventually began to let her down. First, it was her eyes, then breathing problems. She was hospitalized in August 1985 in Washington for treatment of a respiratory ailment, emerging slimmed down and with less certainty in her voice. She was hospitalized in Niagara Falls, N.Y., after a July 1986 concert, for what was diagnosed as congestive heart failure. In 1993, diabetes forced amputation of her legs below the knee.
After turning out more than 100 albums and selling more than 25 million records, Ella was named in 1979 as a Kennedy Center Honoree for lifetime achievement in the performing arts. She was given numerous Grammys and other awards, and was picked as the top female jazz singer in polls by Metronome and Down Beat magazines in various years.