On the airwaves, she was a Top Banana — singing her way into TV and radio history as the oh-so-a-peelin’ cartoon persona of the venerable Chiquita Banana brand.


For almost two decades, Monica Lewis was a certified pop music and pop culture phenomenon — the rhapsodic vocal essence of the Jazz Age. She was the idealized, wholesomely sexy sound and image of apple-pie America, lending a melodious voice of hope to thousands of U.S. troops through two of the 20th century’s greatest wars.

Having studied voice with her mother since a mere toddler, Monica quit junior college at 17 to work as a vocalist on THE GLOOM DODGERS, a popular radio wake-up program on New York’s WHN. This and other early airwaves successes led to her debut at Manhattan’s legendary Stork Club and subsequent discovery by the “King of Swing,” Benny Goodman, whose imprimatur hastened her ascent as a vocalist/co-host on nationally broadcast programs including BEAT THE BAND, THE CHESTERFIELD HOUR: MUSIC THAT SATISFIES and THE REVERE CAMERA SHOW. Monica quickly became one of the country’s highest-flying songbirds, working with record labels such as Signature, Decca and Capitol to create timeless hits like “Autumn Leaves,” “Fools Rush In,” “I Wish You Love” and “A Tree in the Meadow.” She was the first to record “Put the Blame on Mame.”

Along a route that took her to famed music venues, on-air programs and movie studios from New York to Los Angeles and back again, Monica made numerous TV appearances. These included Ed Sullivan’s very first broadcast in 1948 and variety shows hosted by the likes of Bob Hope, Danny Thomas and the comedy duo of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, with whom she first appeared at New York’s Copacabana nightclub.