Mona is either watching or playing or sitting in the umps chair at the big grass court in the sky. All 5′ something of Mona usually liked her feet on the ground… And she was really funny and witty as anyone could attest. Our favorite was when a large group was around a table and couldn’t decide where to sit .. Mona would always say we aren’t mating we are eating just take a seat. That one always cracked Barron Hilton up.
Mona was always young at heart ! All thru her years even up until about 75 – close to 80 she was very active. We would call her the energizer bunny. She really took great care of herself. She exercised daily, she loved her friends, Her dogs, her passion for painting. Her life had a great balance. She had the love of a great man in Jack Ellis. Boy was he a lucky man all of the hunks in Hollywood were chasing Mona. Frank Sinatra wrote her a song and Bing Crosby too. Jack treated her like the queen she was and he made her laugh.
She ate right, drank little, loved gardening and her roses and her Gardenias and her home and her cars. She aged so gracefully in a town that is so beauty driven. I guess being so short in stature aided in all those youthful roles. Mona would have turned 88 on June 9th. She almost made it to infinity. She was greatly loved. She will be greatly missed. We will raise a glass on June 9 and remember all the great birthdays we spent with the painting girls.
According to Ron in Indian Wells as a teenager guys from all over Westchester County, New York knew of this great beauty named Mona from Pelham . They would drive from all over the tri state area to cruise around Pelham to catch a glimpse of her. Slightly embarrassed by all of the attention and fuss she was always ready with a snappy comment. Always. Always. To make you laugh and change the subject. It’s also the reason she couldn’t see her films or any of that. It all seemed too frivolous to her.
She loved driving and collecting cars, watching sports. But Painting was her passion. Her “painting girls” were together over 60 years. That group was Elyse Harmon (Marks mother), Elaine Helbock and Sandy Payne. Mona’s studio was small but had great light. The “Girls”all dropped by and they made sandwiches or brought stuff in and painted to their hearts content. Mona’s greatest passion was art and her painting. But she Didn’t like a lot of “motion” Motion stuff got her big time. (Dizzy) Maybe that was her “allergy” to motion pictures…
She loved tennis. Loved it. Her brother played at Yale not on the team but up there as she would say. She played wherever in the world that she was on location. She lived in Southern California. Los Angeles was home by the time she was a teenager. She was signed at Paramount before she was 21. She was part of the “Paramount Crew” (STARS) that ran out of the studio gates and down and across the street to the Los Angeles tennis club to watch all the pros. It was everyone’s favorite week of the years but the Paramount talent had it the most VIP The tourney was the old Pacific Southwest. The tennis tourney Los Angeles had for what like a hundred years till the “undertakers ” all ruined it and ran it away to foreign lands.
Mona filmed in London in the 50s and was at Wimbledon daily. She actually went a lot of years. She loved the grass court season. “Geezer” ( thanks Casey ) was with Mona @ Wimbledon in the early nineties. It was hot. Mona didn’t fair well in the heat. The heat had gotten her there in the 50′s so we were heading to the VIP chalets. NBC was her entry and Geez tagged along. The story goes that along the way they ran into old buddy Pancho Segura. Pancho’s volume was pretty high on this day. Maybe the heat had gotten to him too. They all stopped to watch their friend Derrick Rostagno. Pancho was saying the most outrageous things and everyone was laughing and cracking up. Some say even Derrick could hear what he said. Either way he asked him to keep it down he was trying his hardest to win. Then everyone laughed more….
They finally made it in for some Pimms and hot dogs. NBC was always happy to host Pancho. To have such an amazing living legend telling stories in their tent. Usually Johnny Carson was around and whoever else had a hit on NBC .
If I had to have a bottom line. It’s tennis needs the celebrity-mainstream crossover. We are a small sport with serious followers but we need more mainstream global and Household names .. Nothing shouts that like a CELEBRITY…
Mona Freeman Ellis passed away this past May it was revealed today in the Los Angeles Times by Steve Chawkins.
Here is another article on Mona Freeman via The Hollywood Reporter.