7.1/10
3,005
43 user 20 critic

Lady Sings the Blues (1972)

The story of the troubled life and career of the legendary Jazz singer, Billie Holiday.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Suzanne de Passe) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Louis McKay
...
Piano Man
...
Reg Hanley (as James Callahan)
...
Harry
...
Jerry
...
Mama Holiday
Yvonne Fair ...
Yvonne
...
The Madame
Tracee Lyles ...
The Prostitute
...
The Agent
Milton Selzer ...
The Doctor
...
The Detective #1
Clay Tanner ...
The Detective #2
Jester Hairston ...
The Butler
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Storyline

Born Elinore Harris, Billie Holiday had a difficult teen and young adulthood period, which included working in brothels, both as a cleaning woman and a prostitute, and being raped. Through this difficulty, she dreamed of becoming a jazz singer. She got her initial singing break when she applied at a Harlem club that was looking for a dancer, but where she got hired as a singer. There, she met and fell in love with the suave Louis McKay. After this initial break, Billie wanted her singing career to move to the mainstream clubs in downtown Manhattan. She took a risk when she agreed to be the lead singer for the Reg Hanley Band, a primarily white group, who convinced her that she would have to make her mark in regional tours before her Manhattan dream could happen. As Billie tried to advance her career, pressures of life, including being a black woman, led to her not so secret substance abuse (especially of heroin), not so secret because of her increasingly erratic behavior, both on ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Diana Ross IS Billie Holiday See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 October 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El ocaso de una estrella  »

Box Office

Gross:

$9,600,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Paul Winfield was considered for the role of Louis McKay in the planning stages of this production. See more »

Quotes

Piano Man: What she don't pick up from the top, she can pick up from the bottom.
Billie Holiday: I hope that works both ways!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #26.74 (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Happy
Written by Michel Legrand and Smokey Robinson
Sung by Michael Jackson
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Did I see the same movie?
26 March 2001 | by See all my reviews

This was a wonderful star-making vehicle for Diana Ross but the worst thing that could have happened to the legend of Billie Holiday. Billie was big, bold, gutsy and full of life. Diana Ross plays her as a sweet aenimic victim. The look is great and the music, not bad, considering. But it has zero to do with Billie Holiday and it takes a lot of nerve to try and improve on the original.


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