Rona Steinberg On Feeding Bob Marley Before He Died

I do remember the image of him lying in his bed. ... This was somebody who was extraordinary and why was I able to get in there at the end of this life.

David Gerlach

Interview by

March 2011, via Skype


Marley from Blank on Blank on Vimeo.


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David Gerlach: This is Blank on Blank and thank you for tuning in as we bring you this archive of lost American interviews. I’m David Gerlach.

[Music:  Bob Marley & the Wailers - “Dreamland”]

Rona Steinberg: David, I feel almost like is there an interview here to do?

[Music: “Dreamland” continues]

Rona Steinberg: They think their mom is cool, because I was in the room with Bob Marley and gave him chocolate pudding.

David Gerlach: That’s Rona Steinberg and she is kind of down playing what really is a remarkable story. I mean when I first heard about it, I wanted to know how and when and where and just why she give Bob Marley pudding. Chocolate pudding. So I gave her a call.

Rona Steinberg: I was green. (Laughs) I just got out of getting my masters in nutrition. This was my first job as a registered dietitian

David Gerlach: The year was 1981. It was springtime. Rona was working at Cedars Medical Center. It’s down in Miami. That’s when Bob Marley, who had been battling cancer for a number of years, he came in for treatment. Here’s what happened next.

Rona Steinberg. There was a buzz about Bob Marley being in the hospital and they wanted someone to go in to find out what he can possibly eat. I was asked to go in. And I had to be very respectful, because this guy was really on his way out. He was very, very sick. I didn’t want to come in there like, “Oh my god, Bob Marley.” He was lying in bed and he was surrounded by all his bodyguards and some relatives. I basically really spoke to them and of course looked over at him and he looked at me. You know I think he was just very, very weak and glanced at me. Maybe tried to give me a little expression, smile, whatever. And we came down to what he could really tolerate, just you know something soft. What did he like. They told me anything chocolate. I said ‘How about some chocolate pudding?” And that’s really what it came down to.

[Music: “Dreamland” continues]

Rona Steinberg: He was a nice man. I felt like a gentle energy from him. Even though of course he was sick and weak. But that’s the only way I can really express it.

David Gerlach: What about now when you hear his music: what goes through your head?

Rona Steinberg: I do remember the image of him lying in his bed. He had gotten very, very thin. But he had all this hair. These Rastafarian long locks. And it was a little bit sad, because he had so much energy and he was so cool and being up on stage and dancing around. You know and then here he was. He died very young. But I guess he did a lot in his short life. He really made quite an impression. I guess God allowed him to do that in his short life, and I guess it was time for him to move on.

[Music: “Dreamland” continues]

Rona Steinberg: It was like monumental, I think, in a sense. This was somebody who was extraordinary and why was I able to get in there at the end of this life? I guess you can get philosophical about it. But I felt sort of privileged to be able to just be in his presence. Even at that point. I felt honored to be able to help him if that was helping him and giving him some type of satisfaction. That felt good.

[Music: “Dreamland” continues]

David Gerlach: That’s Rona Steinberg on her chance encounter with reggae legend Bob Marley at the end of his life. Now Bob Marley was never able to leave that Miami hospital. He died a few weeks later. He was just 36 years old. This interview was produced by me and Dave McGuire. Thanks to Jeffrey Alan Jones for our sound logo. And you can find more interviews that you can’t hear anywhere else, head over to I’m David Gerlach. Keep listening.

Music: Bob Marley and the Wailers “Dreamland”
Photo: Eddie Mallin via Flickr