Ellie was mourned in Provincetown this afternoon. The perpetually tanned singer who serenaded countless strollers as a street performer in front of Town Hall for almost a decade died at 79. The cause was pancreatic cancer. Ellie left three former wives and five children.
Formerly, Eliot Stanton Castillo, Ellie may not have been famous outside of the colorful seaside town, but her life rivaled most anyone’s for its originality. Ellie presented as a man until she moved to Provincetown at the age of 72 to pursue her dream of living life as a “show girl.” If her repertoire of Sinatra songs delivered in a satiny baritone seemed at odds with her mini skirted style, Ellie won over even the most skeptical listeners with a saintly dignity.
Her careers included: minister at several churches, TV evangelist, advertising executive, and member of the late Ted Kennedy’s boat building crew.
Although she performed in Provincetown for just seven years, Ellie became an institution who embodied an ethic of acceptance and personal courage. Her motto was “live your dream.”
Ellie’s one-page biography, printed on single sheets of paper, were available to her listeners, thus incorporating her improbable life story into her performance. Though she was easily better than most street performers, her story was at least as important as the music.
A gathering of about 100 people waited behind Town Hall for Ellie’s son and daughter to roll her trademark wagon carrying a microphone and karaoke machine down Commercial Street. When it arrived, the crowd fell in behind it forming a New Orleans style procession that paused in front of Town Hall, her performance space. The procession then continued to the Crown & Anchor nightclub complex, where local singers performed and a silent auction was held to raise money for the McCarthy Care Center in East Sandwich, where Ellie spent her last 56 days.