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Ellen Naomi Cohen, Pop Star ‘mama’ Cass Elliot, Dies at 33

Ellen Naomi Cohen, known to the pop music world as “Mama” Cass Elliot, died yesterday at the age of 33 apparently as the result of choking on a ham sandwich while lying in bed, according to Miss Elliot’s personal physician. The singer, who rose to fame as a member of the pop group. The Mamas and the Papas, in the 1960s, had finished a successful run at the London Palladium Saturday night and was soon to begin a tour of British nightclubs.

Born in Baltimore, Md., Miss Eliot worked as a journalist after high school, before leaving for New York and the fame as a singer which she eventually found there. For a period of about six months in the late 1950s, Miss Elliot wrote obituaries and edited copy for the Baltimore Jewish Times, before joing the staff of the Baltimore Morning Sun.

“She was a very sweet girl–the same way she used to come off on TV,” said Jerry Hess, sales manger of the Jewish Times and one of the staff members who remembers when Miss Elliot, still Ellen Cohen then, worked there. “When she worked here she used to sing all the time. She was doing some singing at clubs around the area and when she came to work she was never quiet. We used to have to tell her to stop singing.”

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