Revealed after 60 years… the real Green Lady whose face is on a million living room walls


Story from Daily Mail

The flowing black locks are instantly recognisable, as are the  flared nostrils and ruby lips.

But thankfully, her skin has lost its emerald glow.

This is Monika Pon, the Green Lady whose face has adorned millions of British sitting-room walls.


Following an interview with Tabitha Lasley in Marie Claire magazine, the true story behind the world’s most reproduced painting was revealed.

Its artist, Russian-born Vladimir Tretchikoff, always claimed his subject was a woman he met in San Francisco.

In fact it was 17-year-old Monika Sing-Lee, who was a single girl working in her uncle’s laundry in Cape Town in the early 1950s when Tretchikoff heard of her beauty from a friend.


‘He walked in, stared at me and said, “Hello, I’m Tretchikoff. I would like to paint you. Would you sit for me?”,’ recalled Mrs Pon, now in her mid-70s.

‘I didn’t know what to say – I was very naive about these sorts of things. I had been told by men that I was beautiful and sexy, and my friends said when I walked down the street everyone noticed me.

‘But growing up in the apartheid era, everyone hated the Chinese and at home I was called “flat face”. So I never felt pretty.’

Nonetheless she agreed and, for two days a week over the following ten weeks, Monika posed for the Russian artist and 15 of his students in the sessions which produced the picture officially titled The Chinese Girl.

‘I would sit on a little stage, which was slightly raised,’ she recalls. ‘I wore a pure silk jacket that belonged to his wife. In the picture it’s a different colour to how it was in real life. But it’s the same one.

‘He was handsome and attractive and he made me laugh. We had such fun.  But he was always a gentleman to me.’

Tretchikoff paid her just over six South African pounds for her time: a fee equivalent to around £130 now.

Monika was happy with the money but the painting, when she eventually saw it, did not impress her.

She went on to marry commercial traveller Pon Su-Suan and have five children, but they parted 40 years ago and she spent much of her life in poverty, working in a fish-and-chip shop and as a seamstress.

Meanwhile Tretchikoff went from strength to strength. While loathed by art critics, his garish paintings were hugely popular in the drab post-war years.

He made millions selling cheap reproductions of his work direct to the public.

And of all his pictures, it was The Chinese Girl that sold the most.  Even now it is revered as a classic of 1950s kitsch.

While acknowledging he painted an early version of the picture in Cape Town, Tretchikoff claimed it had been destroyed by vandals and maintained until his death in 2006 that his model came from the U.S.

Experts think that he concealed its true origin through misguided fear of being sued for a portion of its earnings.

But Andrew Lamprecht, who is writing a book on the artist, said: ‘It’s clear as soon as you meet Monika that it’s her.’

And Mrs Pon says the artist privately acknowledged that she was the true Chinese Girl.

Reintroduced in the 1990s, the pair struck up a strong friendship. Pictures of the pair show them laughing together.

Mrs Pon said: ‘When we met, he didn’t recognise me so I told him who I was. He said, “Don’t be silly – you don’t look like her”. I replied, “Do you look the same as you did 40 years ago?”

‘Then I told him how we met and little things that only the true Chinese Girl would know, such as how he liked to dance the jitterbug. That was that. Immediately we were laughing again.’

She added: ‘I’m not boasting but it was my portrait that made Tretchikoff rich. The Chinese Girl was the best thing that ever happened to me in my not-so-nice life.’

Mrs Pon was this week reunited with the original version of the Chinese Lady at a new retrospective of Tretchikoff’s works in Cape Town’s National Gallery.

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Cocktail Nation 367 James Spencer Blue -The Cocktail Piano Hour

on the show this week my favourite neo lounge pianist James Spencer stops by to talk about his latest album Blue the Cocktail Piano Hour
news on the death of a prolific songwriter and the dramatic death of Kodak

Tiki Lounge Crew-Martini Sunset
Beige Adair-Fly Me To The Moon
James Spencer  -A Kooper Kocktail
Perry Beekman -I’ve Got A Crush On You
Bobby Darin -Where Are The Words
Jeff Denson Trio-Kary Trance
Tom Graff- I’m In Love
Bert Kaemphert -Bert’s Bossa Nova
Spy Fi-Perry Mason Theme
Skip Heller-Q
Laurindo Almeida -The Look Of Love
Project Pimento-You Only Live Twice
David Carbonara -Caravan


Interesting People On The Phone


Got some crackerjack shows coming up! This week I have chatted to James Spencer about his new album Blue-The Cocktail Piano Hour.
You can hear this interview and album this weekend on the Cocktail Nation and I will spin a special track that James has written especially for me called A Kooper Kocktail.


Also this week had the pleasure of chatting to Jim Bacchi about his upcoming Tikiyaki Orchestra album called Idol Worship.
The album is due for release on the 13th of August with a big release at Tiki Oasis.


Cocktail Nation 366 Jerry Lewis In The Dressing Room

This week talking about Jerry Lewis and an interesting interview I found that I would like to share with you. We talk about the passing of Omar Sharif and how about this, a cursed 1954 Ferrari Sports car!

Clouseaux – Miserlou
Tikiyaki Orchestra -Black Sand Blue Sea
Jerry Lewis -That Old Black Magic
101 Strings-Peter Gunn Theme
Useless Playboys-Caravan
Uptown Jazz Quartet- Bossa Nova Eyes
Virginia Schneck – How Deep Is The Ocean
Rene Raff – Aprils Fool
Oscar Peterson – Bags Groove
Narco Lounge Combo -Play With Fire
Monica Mancini-Weekend Of A Private Secretary


Time and Place for everything (or why people have no clue)

A couple of nights ago I was at a charity fundraiser. The majority of people were wearing business suit and tie. Seated at my table was a young sales representative from a Sydney radio station who was wearing a casual shirt and jeans. Of course we ribbed him about it, he was clearly embarrassed and yet he remained at the table albeited somewhat uncomfortable.
Personally I would have left or disappeared quietly to come back properly dressed. Clearly he is clueless and has no idea how to read an invitation.

Last night I was in an upmarket bar overlooking the Sydney harbour bridge, a nice little place called the Horizon bar at the Shangrila hotel and my table was joined by some football friends of one of my party. The language and the stories that these Neanderthals used was atrocious. These are locker room stories and locker room language, not one for upmarket bars where there are ladies. I’m not a fuddy duddy, but you have to draw the line. I quietly excused myself and moved to another table with other people I knew.
Clearly these football meat heads are clueless when it comes to social graces.

Yesterday I drove past a train station and saw a woman get out of her car to close the trunk after kissing her husband goodbye. She was wearing her pyjamas with a nightgown and big fluffy slippers, her hair was in curlers. If this is the way she says goodbye to her partner I hope that he has some action going on at the office . I also hope her car breaks down at a busy intersection so she will have to get out and will suffer the embarrassment of being dressed inappropriatly. Clearly this woman is a lazy slob who is clueless when it comes to getting dressed to leave your house. Did she intend on going back to bed as soon as she got home?

Yesterday I was jogging along the waterfront next to the Parramatta River when two middle aged women with poodles came towards me, I moved to the left to pass them by and I noticed that they themselves continued to walk taking up the whole sidewalk and not budging an inch for me to pass. They seemed to think I would move to the side and onto the grass.
I kept on going and as I ran past one of the women shouldered me, I ignored this rude act and kept going but it made me think to myself how strange and selfish these two old biddies were. I had conceded the path and moved to the side but this didn’t matter to them, they felt they have a right to own the sidewalk and how dare a runner take their space.
Clearly these women are selfish and conceited in their space in the big bad city and whilst on this occasion nothing was said or done I can guarantee that a more aggressive person will have some harsh words with them. Their day is coming.

There is a time and place for everything in this big wonderful world of ours and when people get this fact they can truly evolve to a greater species. Till then I guess we need to handle the weak and feeble minded with grace and simply move on for they know not what they do.


The Man Who Wrote The Songs


Roy C. Bennett, a songwriter who, with Sid Tepper, wrote songs that were recorded by an extraordinarily wide range of artists including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and the Beatles, died July 2 in Queens, New York. He was 97.

The duo wrote 45 songs for Elvis alone, including most of the songs in the film “Blue Hawaii.” In 2002, Bennett and Tepper were honored in Memphis for their part in Presley’s career.

Bennett began his career writing songs at the age of 11 — with Tepper, who was to become his decades-long partner. Tepper died in April at the age of 96.

In his autobiography Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones fame makes note of one of their songs (“Travelin’ Light,” recorded by both Cliff Richard and Herman’s Hermits). It was among the records that influenced Richards early on and was an important part of what he and others referred to as “the Awakening – the birth of rock and roll on U.K. shores.”

In addition to Armstrong, Ellington, Charles, Sinatra, the Beatles and Presley, Tepper and Bennett also wrote songs recorded by Carl Perkins, Jeff Beck, Herman’s Hermits, the Dave Clark Five, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Ray Charles, Cliff Richard, Eddie Arnold, Marty Robbins, Slim Whitman, Bert Kaempfert, Wayne Newton, Robert Goulet, Dean Martin, Dinah Shore, Nancy Wilson, Connie Francis, Sarah Vaughn, Guy Lombardo, Eartha Kitt, the Ink Spots, Louis Prima, Arthur Godfrey, Tommy Dorsey and Lawrence Welk.

Among the songwriters’ hits were “The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane,” “Kiss of Fire,” “Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart,” “Kewpie Doll,” “G.I. Blues,” “Suzy Snowflake,” “Puppet on a String,” “Stairway of Love,” “Nuttin’ for Christmas,” “The Woodchuck Song,” “Glad All Over,” “Don’t Come Running Back to Me,” “New Orleans” and the Elvis-Ann-Margret duet “The Lady Loves Me.”

Bennett was born Israel Brodsky – known as Izzy — to a poor family in Brooklyn. He was a quiet boy, but his singing ability was evident at an early age, and early on, he was torn between his two major talents, singing and writing. His vocation was songwriting, but his avocation, to which he was passionately dedicated for decades, was choral singing. In the 1970s he published a book on the art of choral singing.

He went to City College in New York but returned in his mid 40s to graduate, making that final push because he thought it was important to set an example for his children.

They won a BMI Award for 1 million plays of “Kiss of Fire”and a Country Music Award for Eddie Arnold’s rendition of “Red Roses for a Blue Lady.”

His creativity did not diminish in his old age. Not that long ago, he finished a new composition – a love song entitled “Cuando” (or “When”), put to the melody of “La Paloma.”

Bennett is survived by his wife, Ruth Bennett; two sons, Keith and Neil Bennett; and three grandchildren.

(Story via Variety)