There's a special place in my heart - and thus a place of honour at the Pop Culture Institute - for anyone who defies the prevailing looksism of their times and becomes a success despite it; Cass Elliot - born on this day in 1941 - was one such person.
In an age of waif-like hippie chicks, Cass was not one; though she exhibited a brave face and a healthy attitude, it had to have hurt to see the men she loved continually pass her over for thinner women, then come crying to her when things didn't work out. I know it's always pissed me off.
Not only was Cass successful with The Mamas & the Papas, she also had a thriving solo career, beginning in 1968. It was not to last. Cass died of a heart attack in July 1974; she did not, according to the popular myth, choke on a ham sandwich.
She is survived by, among others, a sister named Leah Kunkel and a daughter Owen Vanessa Elliot.
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