Sadly he died in February of 1965 at the age of forty-five. I have always been a great fan of him and his work. He died of lung cancer at the very same time I was having my lung surgery in 1970. I found myself even more attracted to him and his career. About that time in the late 60s’, his wife, Maria, wrote a book on his life. Immediately I got the book and was moved by her writings and the story of his life.
Over the years I have collected a large body of his works, but there was one particular album he had done that I could not find. I searched everywhere and made every contact I could think of with no success. For some unexplainable reason one night I sat down and wrote Maria Cole, Mrs. Nat King Cole, a letter. I told her how much I enjoyed her book and her husband’s work. In the last paragraph of my letter, I mentioned there was an album I was trying to find, but had failed at every search. I told her how much I would love to find a source to purchase the album.
I sent the letter to an address that I found in an encyclopedia from my local library, thinking “She will never get this. This address cannot be right.” Time passed, and I had forgotten that I had even sent the letter. At that time I was teaching and coaching in Frankfort, Indiana, and one day as I went to check my mailbox in the teacher’s lounge, low and behold, there was an envelope, stationary style. My first thought was here is a letter from an” unhappy parent.” To my great surprise it was a letter from Mrs. Nat King Cole. She thanked me for my letter and at the end of her letter she wrote, “I’m sorry, right now I am not at our home in California where I would have access to that album you asked about.” She gave me an address and contact person in California. “You tell them I told you to contact them, they should be able to help you get a copy of the album,” were her words.
Today just off to my left is the album. It, along with her letter and the album cover, is framed.
Not all celebrities are cold, callous and indifferent to their fans. Some do read and respond to their fan mail.
If you are not familiar with Nat King Cole, just pick up a cd of his sometime. Never, never let a Christmas season pass without listening to him do the “Christmas Song.”
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire/ Jack Frost nipping at your nose,
yule tide carols being sung by a choir/ and folks dressed up like Eskimos.”
December 15, 2009