Down 1,731 this week

Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer (2007)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.5/10 from 178 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 9 user | 24 critic | 12 from

A tribute to jazz diva Anita O'Day, completed just weeks before her death in November 2006.

0Check in

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 115 titles
created 21 Apr 2012
a list of 702 titles
created 23 Sep 2012
a list of 53 titles
created 27 Feb 2013
a list of 955 titles
created 10 months ago
a list of 2517 titles
created 9 months ago

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer (2007)

Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer (2007) on IMDb 7.5/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer.
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Leonard Feather ...
Will Friedwald ...
Johnny Mandel ...
Anita O'Day ...
John Poole ...
Himself (archive footage)
George Wein ...
Gerald Wilson ...


A documentary look at the improvised life of Anita O'Day (1919-2006), singer and stylist whose timing, phrasing, interpretations, and unique sound put her among the finest vocalists of jazz. Interviews with her late in life are interspersed with archival footage of performances and old interviews as well as with comments by friends, arrangers, critics, and other musicians. She talks about singing without a uvula (sing eighth notes), of jail time for a marijuana arrest, of taking and kicking heroin, of finally making money after appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival, of loss, of a broken arm that almost cost her life, and of living in 4/4 time, one day at a time, smiling. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

jazz | broken arm | singing | heroin | singer | See more »


Documentary | Music



Official Sites:




Release Date:

30 April 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer  »

Box Office


$200,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


See  »

Did You Know?


The clips of Anita O'Day performing as a band singer for Gene Krupa and Stan Kenton come from "Soundies", three-minute music videos filmed during the 1940's for playback on a "Panoram", a video jukebox that projected the film onto a window-like screen. Many top musicians of the period, including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Liberace (who made his film debut on one) made "Soundies". See more »


In one of the interview clips, Anita O'Day says that composer-arranger Gary McFarland died soon after the release of the album they made together, "All the Sad Young Men." McFarland actually lived another 10 years after the 1961 release of his record with O'Day, and died on November 2, 1971. See more »


Features Jazz on a Summer's Day (1959) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Amazing movie, but Anita wasn't the only great white jazz singer
5 January 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a marvelous film, a worthy tribute to one of the giants of jazz. I was a bit worried at the gimmicky opening -- in which a clip of Anita O'Day was subjected to bizarre color patterns, mirror images and re-editing -- but as the film went on it settled into a conventional but appealing music-documentary groove with O'Day's interviews (some archival, some done especially for this film) providing commentary and context to her career. Filmmakers Robbie Cavolina and Ian McCrudden deserve credit for presenting O'Day's performances, if not as complete songs start-to-finish, at least in long enough clips so you could appreciate her (all too many music documentarians just give us a few seconds here and there, or have people talking over the clips). Though this film is aimed mostly at O'Day's fans, "newbies" can watch it and at least get an idea of what made her so great.

One aspect of the film that fascinated me was O'Day's comment that in order to be a great jazz musician you had to live the "jazz life." I can think of quite a few people on her level of talent -- Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie -- who had long and prosperous careers by avoiding substance abuse and the other pitfalls of the so-called "jazz life." The only part of the movie that really rubbed me the wrong way, though, was the interview clip with the late Leonard Feather (with which the filmmakers seemed to agree) in which he said that O'Day was the only white woman jazz singer he regarded as the artistic equal of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan. What about June Christy, Chris Connor, Peggy Lee or -- in the generation just before O'Day's -- Mildred Bailey (an obvious influence on O'Day's style) and the Boswell Sisters?

4 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
release infomation blewnote
Playing in New Orleans this week mojoman3061
Playing in San Diego This Week hornadw
In Providence at the Cable Car Cinema. ItalianGerry

Contribute to This Page