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New York Life's Famous Faces Include Jackie Robinson and Nat "King" Cole

For over a century-and-a-half, New York Life has served the financial needs of Americans from every walk of life — from secretaries to CEOs, science teachers to astronauts, little leaguers to Hall of Famers. Our policyowners make up the backbone of America — people who put in an honest day's work, care for their families, and take part in their community.

Most of our clients will never appear on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," but on occasion, we have insured the lives of some prominent individuals — the "Famous Faces of New York Life."

During February's Black History Month, we honor and celebrate two of those famous faces: Jackie Robinson, a genuine American hero who broke baseball's color barrier by joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, and Nat "King" Cole, one of the most popular song stylists of all time.

Born Jack Roosevelt Robinson in Cairo Georgia, Robinson became the first African–American player in the modern major leagues. Nicknamed "Jackie," Robinson grew up in Pasadena, California, where he emerged as a standout athlete in both high school and junior college. He attended the University of California at Los Angeles between 1939 and 1941, and became known as a tremendous talent in not only baseball, but also basketball, football and track.

Cole conquered the pop charts in the Fifties and early Sixties as a warm-voiced singer of orchestrated ballads like “Mona Lisa” and “Unforgettable” and breezy, countrified sing-along like “Ramblin’ Rose” and “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer.” Less well known is the fact that he played a mean piano (in the style of Earl “Fatha” Hines) and led a swinging jazz trio from 1937 to 1955.

Cole’s drummer less trio was an innovation, and no less an authority than Count Basie marveled at their improvisational interplay: “Those cats used to read each other’s minds—it was unbelievable.” Early stirrings of rock and roll can be detected in such swinging, lingo-filled tunes as “Straighten Up and Fly Right” and “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66,” recorded in 1943 and 1946, respectively, by the King Cole Trio. With its three guitars, honking sax and gritty vocal, the 1957 hit “Send for Me” (#1 R&B, #6 pop) was formally as close as Cole ever got to rock and roll.1

1Official Web site of the Nat King Cole Society

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New York Life's Famous Faces Include Jackie Robinson and Nat "King" Cole

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