The world of entertainment has had to deal with tragically short deaths for centuries.

It’s to the point where some are convinced that specific individuals are cursed based on their professions alone. Rock stars all die in their 20s or live well past their 80s, carrying on as if they were in their prime.

There’s no in-between. You either live long enough to see the end of the world, or you die before you have a chance to get started. 

This is true of many tamers acts, such as the folk-rock music star “Mama” Cass Elliot.

A member of various bands who went on to have a dominant solo career, her life was cut short at just 32 years old.

Much speculation ran through the rumor mill as to how she could have died so young, with so much to do and so many songs left to sing, and as a woman with so much joy and energy in her life.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end with a Hollywood-style dramatic cliffhanger. It just kind of ends, and people were left wanting more of her brand of sunshiney music.

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10 /10 Born To Be Mama

Ellen Naomi Cohen was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in September of 1941. She had a solid Russian-Jewish heritage, as all four of her grandparents were immigrants.

She grew up in uncertain poverty for much of her youth until her father finally ran a lunch wagon business. She had two siblings, one of whom ended up becoming a recording singer.

At some point, the family moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where Ellen went to high school.

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9 /10 Not A Mama Yet

Ellen took up the name Elliot, assumedly after a departed friend she had, and referred to herself as “Cass” as a handle after the famous actress Peggy Cass who inspired her to pursue acting.

Elliot was primarily interested in singing and acting from a young age and got her first try at acting with a small part in a summer stock play. She moved to New York before she graduated to pursue more stage work.

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8 /10 A Cass Act

Elliot was unlucky in her subsequent attempts at acting. She lost a role to Barbra Streisand in The Music Man musical and worked as a cloakroom attendant at The Showplace in Greenwich Village.

She moved to Washington, DC, to attend university, which is where she met the members of what would become her first breakout success as not an actor but a singer.

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7 /10 The Big 3

Elliot met with two fellow singers, Tim Rose and John Brown, who formed The Triumvirate group.

However, in 1963, Brown left and was replaced by James Hendricks, and their trio was renamed The Big 3.

They recorded and performed songs under FM Records until 1964, when Tim left the group, causing Elliot and Hendricks to seek other options to continue their performance-driven life.

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6 /10 Too Big To Fail

It was no secret or rumor that Cass was a big woman. It wasn’t something she was ashamed of, either.

It’s just part of who she was. However, her friends had hidden contention about her size, which may have kept her from getting accepted into musical groups as quickly.

This was all but confirmed by her friends when they had to persuade John Phillips to let her into his new group, The NewJourneymen.

5 /10 Coming Up Ahead

One of the famous rumors around Mama Cass was how she became a better singer.

She was with the New Journeymen in the US Virgin Islands when she walked by a construction site and was hit in the head with a copper pipe. It was one part of hard work and one part of getting a concussion.

When she recovered, she discovered she could reach three whole notes higher than she previously could and attested as much in a 1968 interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

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4 /10 The Mamas And Papas

She finally attained her title of “Mama” Cass when the New Journeymen renamed themselves “The Mamas and Papas” and went on to become a leading lady of the quartet in time.

She was even top-billed during specific performances. She went on record with the group until 1971; however, the group officially split up around 1968, when Elliot began her solo career.

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3 /10 Flying Solo

Mama Cass’ solo journey was peppered with success and struggled with failure.

She reportedly was caught stealing from a West London hotel, which was brought to trial but dismissed for lack of evidence.

Following that incident, her first major tour in Las Vegas was preceded by a series of illnesses that compromised her singing ability. Her debut show was met with sinking reviews and awful reception.

The rest of her performances were canceled as a result of her ill health.

Eventually, she managed to recover her voice and perception through various TV appearances and solo albums and re-toured Vegas to stellar reviews.

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2 /10 All Choked Up

Elliot Cass lived large and fast in her heyday of success until it abruptly stopped in 1974. It started when she collapsed before her appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and had to be taken to the hospital.

Later that year, she was in London and toured on her solo career to the acclaim of many, then went on a prolonged celebration of finally overcoming “Mama” Cass.

Unfortunately, her celebration ended in tragedy, as she was found dead in her hotel room later that same evening at the age of 32.

1 /10 Don't Call Her Mama

Elliot Cass was rumored to have died choking on a ham sandwich she ordered from room service.

However, the coroner and autopsy reports discovered no such trace of blockage in her throat and instead attributed her death as a heart attack. It was rumored that her heroin usage may have been the cause,

though that happened years back during her Las Vegas incident. Her life has been memorialized by the many famous friends she made who knew her as a larger-than-life personality with a voice to match.

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