Morgana King, who is best known for playing Marlon Brando’s wife in Godfather I & II, died March 22 from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She was 87.
According to the Washington Post, her death was not previously reported. The Riverside County coroner’s office confirmed her death.
Born Maria Grazia Messina on June 4, 1930, in Pleasantville, NY, she grew up with five siblings in New York City. Her parents were from Italy. She was recognized for her singing talents at a young age and continued to hone her skills which led to a scholarship at the Metropolitan School of Music.
For more than 50 years, King was a jazz singer who performed in clubs and recorded nearly 20 albums. Her talent was admired by such greats as Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Dinah Washington and opera star Eileen Farrell. In 1964, she received a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist.
She performed on The Andy Williams Show and The Hollywood Palace in 1964 and continued TV appearances on television talk and variety shows including The Mike Douglas Show, The Dean Martin Show, and The David Frost Show.
She appeared in the Frances Ford Coppola 1972 classic as Carmela Corleone, the wife of Brando’s Don Vito Corleone. Her lines were minimal, but her musical talents were used in the wedding scene when she sang the Italian song “Luna Mezz’o Mare.” She reprised her role in The Godfather: Part II, where her character died. After her roles in The Godfather films, she took the occasional acting role in film and television.
She continued to perform in clubs and concerts and appeared on variety shows. Her was public performance was in 2000.