PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (CelebrityAccess) Morgana King, 87, jazz singer with a four-octave voice but may be equally known for her role in “The Godfather” films, died earlier this year in Palm Springs, Calif.
Her death, March 22, was only recently confirmed by the Riverside County coroner’s office, according to the Washington Post. A representative told the paper the cause was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. King performed for more than 50 years in nightclubs and recorded more than 20 albums but her ability was never matched by attention, yet she kept to her own stylings. Yet she was admired by Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Dinah Washington and opera star Eileen Farrell, the Post noted, and once sang “Body and Soul” for Billie Holiday in her dressing room, with Holiday saying, “Take care of this baby, ’cause that’s my child.”
“I am a rebel,” she told the Bergen Record in 1988. “I am not a commercial artist. If I don’t believe in something, I won’t do it. I don’t believe in superstardom, publicity stunts and plugging records. . . . The only thing I believe in is music. I won’t forfeit anything for that.”
Her biggest hit was likely “A Taste of Honey” in 1964 and was one of the first singers to adopt the Brazilian bossa nova style of music.
“She is a unique performer,” New York Times jazz critic John S. Wilson wrote in 1972, “a one-of-a-kind individualist who can be related to no other singer except, distantly but quite favorably, to Billie Holiday.”
Yet, she may be equally recognized for her short onscreen role as Carmela Corleone, playing the role of the wife of Don Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, in “The Godfather,” singing Italian song “Luna Mezzo Mare” during the opening wedding sequence.
King was born of Sicilian parents and helped director Francis Ford Coppola decorate the set, telling him to “put a statue of St. Anthony on the wall.”