Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (9)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 5 May 1922Chicago, Illinois, USA
Date of Death 12 June 2015Woodland Hills, California, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameMay Lewis

Mini Bio (1)

For almost two decades, Monica Lewis was the idealized, wholesomely sexy sound and image of apple-pie America, lending a curvaceous, dimpled smile and melodious voice of hope to thousands of U.S. troops through two of the 20th century's greatest wars. She starred on the very first "Ed Sullivan Show" telecast, had numerous hit records including "Put the Blame on Mame", "A Tree in the Meadow", "A Kiss to Build a Dream On", "Autumn Leaves" and "I Wish You Love", and provided the memorable singing voice for the popular cartoon character, "Miss Chiquita Banana".

Monica's course to classic song-styling was set as a child. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest of three children of musical parents. Her father, Abe, was a symphonic composer and pianist, and her mother, Jessica, sang with the Chicago Opera Company. After the Great Depression forced the Lewis clan to relocate from Chicago to New York City, there was no shortage of sibling rivalry: Monica's sister, Barbara Lewis, established herself as an accomplished concert pianist, while her brother, Marlo Lewis, co-created Ed Sullivan's landmark television show, The Ed Sullivan Show (1948).

Having studied voice with her mother since a mere toddler, Monica quit junior college at 17 to work as a radio vocalist. In the mid-1940s, she had her own program on WMCA. This and other early airwaves successes led to her debut at Manhattan's legendary Stork Club and subsequent discovery by the "King of Swing", Benny Goodman, who signed her to appear with his popular band. She quickly ascended as a radio vocalist and co-host on programs including "Beat the Band", "The Revere Camera Hour" and "The Chesterfield Show", sharing the microphone with Frank Sinatra. She became one of the country's highest-flying songbirds, working with record labels such as Signature, Decca, Jubilee, Capitol and Verve to create numerous timeless hits and classic albums.

Her TV appearances included Ed Sullivan's very first broadcast in 1948 and every major variety show opposite legends, including Bob Hope, Danny Thomas and the comedy duo of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, with whom she first appeared at New York's Copacabana.

Records and television led to movies and, in 1950, MGM signed Monica to an exclusive multimedia contract. She was groomed in true MGM style - given singing and romantic roles in such films as The Strip (1951) with Mickey Rooney, Inside Straight (1951) with Barry Sullivan and Excuse My Dust (1951) with Red Skelton. She also sang the title song in the Marge Champion and Gower Champion musical, Everything I Have Is Yours (1952), in which she became the only woman other than Marge to ever dance on screen with Gower. Additional appearances followed in Affair with a Stranger (1953), starring Victor Mature and Jean Simmons, and The D.I. (1957) with Jack Webb.

Monica eagerly volunteered her talent for the war effort, becoming the darling of U.S. servicemen worldwide through the war bond drive, military radio broadcasts and a 1951 USO tour of South Korea with celebrated entertainer Danny Kaye. Back at home, she delighted the masses as a chart-topping jukebox chanteuse and Burlington Mills hosiery's "Miss Leg-O-Genic". Piel's Light Beer, Camel Cigarettes, Pepsi-Cola and General Electric were among the many other major companies which sold their products with Monica's visage and, for 14 years, she provided the tuneful voice of the animated "Miss Chiquita Banana" in a series of classic cartoon shorts which were shown in movie theaters.

When she married colorful and innovative MCA/Universal Studios production executive Jennings Lang in 1956, she not only became his partner but the mother of his young children: Michael Lang, now a jazz pianist, and Robert, an attorney. Monica and Jennings had a third child together, Rocky Lang, now a noted Hollywood writer, director and producer. She was a featured player in several of her husband's blockbuster Universal movies, including Charley Varrick (1973), Rollercoaster (1977), Airport '77 (1977), The Concorde... Airport '79 (1979), and the Top 100 box-office hit, Earthquake (1974). In the 1980s and 1990s, Monica made a few choice cabaret appearances and recorded several new albums, among them "My Favorite Things", "Monica Lewis Swings Jule Styne" and "Why Did I Choose You?", a tribute to her 40-year marriage to Lang. Monica wrote a photo-filled memoir, "Hollywood Through My Eyes", which is available from Cable Publishing.

Monica Lewis died on June 12, 2015, in Woodland Hills, California.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Alan Eichler

Spouse (2)

Jennings Lang (1956 - 29 May 1996) (his death) (3 children)
Bob Thiele (27 July 1945 - 1947) (divorced)

Trivia (9)

Widow of Jennings Lang.
Was one of the first person to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) (aka "The Ed Sullivan Show").
Starred on Ed Sullivan's very first The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) broadcast, along with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Her brother, Marlo Lewis, created the show and produced it for several years.
Was the voice of the popular commercial cartoon character Chiquita Banana for 14 years.
Was the only woman to dance on screen with Gower Champion, besides wife Marge Champion, in the musical, Everything I Have Is Yours (1952).
Father, Abe, was a classical pianist, conductor, and composer. Mother, Jessica, sang with the Chicago Opera Company. Her sister, Barbara Lewis, was also a pianist, and her brother, Marlo Lewis, was a successful TV producer.
Co-starred with Frank Sinatra on the Chesterfield radio series, "Music That Satisfies".
Mother, with Jennings Lang, of writer/producer/director Rocky Lang and Michael Lang.
First wife of Bob Thiele.

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