The myth that Cass Elliot died by choking on a ham sandwich in 1974 was invented by her manager in an attempt to protect her legacy, the singer’s daughter said.

Owen Elliot-Kugell was 7 years old when Elliot passed away at 32 from a heart attack after 36 hours of performing and partying. The former The Mamas & the Papas vocalist had been developing her solo career in London, U.K,. and seemed to have a bright future ahead of her.

“By the time she got back to her flat, it was evening the following day,” Elliot-Kugell told the BBC in a new interview. “She was hungry, and her dancer made her a sandwich from the only thing that was in the flat – ham – and left it on her bedside table. She never even took a bite.”

READ MORE: When Cass Elliot’s Mysterious Death Ended a Promising New Chapter

She added: “Even as a little girl… I would go home to have playdates with some of these kids and it was kind of frequent that one of their parents would make a comment to me like, ‘Hey, did your mom really die choking on a ham sandwich?’

“It bothered me because it was such a horrible story, and I knew that it wasn’t true. And it just felt so cruel to have a rumor like that perpetuated. It tortured me.”

After five decades of wanting to know where the story had come from, she was face-to-face with journalist Sue Cameron – a friend of Elliot – who owned up. “I said, ‘I really just wish I knew where that story came from.’ [Cameron] looked me in the eye and said: ‘I did it.’”

Cass Elliot Ham Sandwich Myth Makes Sense to Daughter

Cameron reported that she’d called Elliot’s manager, Allan Carr, on hearing of the tragedy. “So many of her peers had passed away due to drug overdoses that Carr really wanted to protect her,” Elliot-Kugell continued.” And there was a sandwich that was found there.”

Carr came up with the choking story and asked Cameron to use it, she added, saying it was originally only meant to avoid speculation until full details were available – instead of becoming a long-believed myth. “Allan Carr wanted to protect his client’s legacy, and in a weird way it did,” Elliot-Kugell said. “So now I understand, and it makes sense.”

Her memoir, My Mama, Cass, is published on May 7 via Hachette Books.

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