Who is Monica Lewis and why am I writing about her on a blog about Tony Bennett?
I picked up an issue of The New Yorker (Sept. 7, 2015) and read a completely delightful short article about her by Tad Friend in the Talk of the Town section. I mean, any article that starts off with
You are seeing me at my absolute fucking worst,” Monica Lewis said cheerfully. The ninety-three-year-old entertainer had taken a fall a few days earlier in her apartment at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Retirement Home, near Los Angeles. It fractured her right hip and badly bruised her face. “I’m so surefooted–I’m a dancer, I’ve done pratfalls, all kinds of stunts–and I trip over my own rug.
The article goes on to summarize her life and what a life she had. A singer and an actress, she is probably best known as the voice of the Chiquita Banana jingle. As you can see, she was a beautiful woman and I suspect that even in her nineties, she was still quite the looker.
But what grabbed me and why I wanted to write about her today was the last paragraph in the article.
Her mood turned wistful. “The only one from my era who’s still around still a friend is Tony Bennett.” She sang a snatch from “Cheek to Cheek,” which Bennett and Lady Gaga had performed at the Grammy Awards, her voice bright and full of mischief. “Sinatra, who’d be a hundred this year. he’s gone. Peggy Lee is gone. Eddie Gormé is gone, Ava Gardner, one of my best friends, and Betty Bacall–we were in ‘Johnny 2×4’ together, and she had the measles–they’re gone” Lewis folded her hands in her lap. Ten days later, she would die in her sleep. “The last time I saw Tony, we were crossing the street in New York, on Fifth Avenue. He held his hands up dramatically and stopped traffic, and he hugged me. Then he said, ‘Go now–you can cross.”
If you’d like to know more about Miss Lewis, please visit her website.