Hal Schaefer (1925-2012)
Jazz pianist who was romantically linked to Marilyn Monroe
Hal Schaefer, who arranged music for films and served as a vocal coach for the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Mitzi Gaynor, Betty Grable and Judy Garland, used to perform professionally at hotels in the Catskills. He played in big bands led by Harry James and Benny Carter. He was born in Queens and was the son of a housepainter who loved jazz.
But perhaps most impressively of all, Schaefer escaped what might have been death at the hands of Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, and a pack of goons. Soon after Monroe had split from Joltin’ Joe, a private investigator told him that his ex was shacking up at a house in West Hollywood with Schaefer. The Yankee Clipper went over to confront them, but as it turns out, ended up at the wrong address.
There are different accounts of what happened later that night, but what is certain is that a party of men, including DiMaggio and Sinatra, showed up at the address and someone broke down the door of the ostensible love nest, terrifying the woman who lived there, Florence Kotz — sometimes identified as Florence Kotz Ross — who was in bed by herself.
“Mrs. Ross was fast asleep about 11 p.m. when five or six men suddenly battered down the back door to her apartment, tearing it from its hinges and leaving glass strewn on the floor,” The Los Angeles Times reported, adding, “A bright flash of light was shone in her eyes and she was confronted with a number of men, some of whom seemed to be carrying an instrument which at first sight she believed to be an ax.”
Monroe and Schaefer were across the street, heard the commotion, and apparently ran out the back door of the house and fled.
Hal Schaefer, Jazz Pianist and Marilyn Monroe’s Vocal Coach, Dies at 87 [NYT]
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at email@example.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.