The Man Who Helped A Stranded Motorist Who Turned Out to Be Mrs. Nat King Cole-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

An African-American woman is stranded on an Alabama Highway in a rain storm. She flags down a motorist who turns out to be a white man who takes her to where she can get a cab. She’s in a big hurry, writes down his address, and leaves. A week later, there is a knock at the man’s door. It’s the delivery of a giant console color television with a note from the woman he had helped on the rainy highway. She thanks him and says that because of his kindness, she was able to make it to her dying husband’s bedside. It is signed Mrs. Nat King Cole.

The Truth:

This is an urban legend that has been around for quite a while, and is not true.

Nat King Cole was a successful singer who died in 1965. He was Natalie Cole’s father.

Roy Holmes, who hosts a Nat King Cole Website ( has spoken with Maria Cole, Nat King Cole’s widow, about the story. She told him that she did not drive to the hospital where Nat died, she doesn’t drive at night, and has never had the occasion of being helped by a man when a car broke down.

One note is that this story also places Mrs. Cole in Alabama, but Nat died at St. John’s hospital in Santa Monica, California, and his death was not a sudden one that would have caught her by surprise in some other part of the country. He succumbed to cancer and, according to newspaper accounts, she was at his bedside almost continuously until he died.

There are real stories of celebrities doing nice things for people they didn’t know (Elvis was famous for that), but there are also numerous urban legends about encounters between celebrities and strangers and some of the generous gifts that have resulted.

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Pickup in the Rain

One night, at 11:30 PM, an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm.

Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride.

Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxi cab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him.

Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home A special note was attached. It read: “Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away.

God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.”


Mrs. Nat King Cole.