Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Sketch of Ella in her twenties by Jackie (left) and Age Progression to her seventies

Real Name: Ella (last name unrevealed)
Case: Lost Nanny/Friend
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Date: 1943

Jackie cooper.jpg


Details: Jackie Cooper is a part-time teacher living in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. She is looking for her former nanny, an African-American woman named Ella, who taught her many important lessons about life in the racially tense South during the 1940s. Ella was hired by Jackie's parents in 1939 when she was born. She was there from the time Jackie was brought home from the hospital. When her parents were away, Ella cared for her as though she was her own child, giving her the stable and predictable love a child needs. She always felt safe, protected, and special when she was with her. Even though it was the young years of Jackie's life, Ella encouraged her to go to school, draw, and paint. She recalled that Ella also had a very positive outlook on life.
As an African-American woman living in the south during the 1940s, Ella was forced to endure the humiliating laws of segregation. Even as a child, this troubled Jackie. She recalled Ella having to drink from the "Coloreds only" fountain but did not understand why. Ella told her that she had to, because she was a "colored person". She said, "God made us the same on the inside, but created our skin a different color." However, she also made light of the situation, saying that it would be "boring" if everyone was the same.
Along with learning about race, Jackie learned important lessons about human dignity from Ella. She vividly remembered the bus trips they would take to downtown Atlanta, often to meet her mother who worked at J.M. Highs department store. Normally, Ella would have to sit in the back of the bus. However, since she was with Jackie, she was allowed to sit in the "Whites only" section. People would give them uncomfortable stares and glances, but Ella remained calm and would try to keep Jackie that way as well. As an adult, Jackie realized what courage Ella had to not be bothered by others' opinions.
When Jackie was five, Ella decided to go north to further her education. On the day she left, she came to Jackie's home to say good-bye to her. Ella was visibly upset and told Jackie that she loved her. Sadly, it was the last time they would ever see each other. As an adult, Jackie realized how much of an impact Ella had on her life. Now, she wants to reunite with her and thank her.
Little was known about Ella, including her last name, and Jackie, at that time, had no photos of her, however, she did draw a sketch of her from memory. Through her description, a composite artist made one of what Ella would look like in her seventies. She married a black doctor and moved to either Rochester, New York or Baltimore, Maryland. She also had a daughter who died around the age of nine.
Extra Notes:

  • This case first aired on the February 21, 1990 episode.
  • It was excluded from the FilmRise release of the Robert Stack episodes.

Results: Unresolved. According to one source, Jackie was able to locate Ella in a St. Louis nursing home and reunite with her. According to this source, Ella passed away a year later. This information has not been confirmed.