7.1/10
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44 user 22 critic

Lady Sings the Blues (1972)

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

Director:

Sidney J. Furie

Writers:

Chris Clark (screenplay), Suzanne De Passe (screenplay) (as Suzanne de Passe) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Diana Ross ... Billie Holiday
Billy Dee Williams ... Louis McKay
Richard Pryor ... Piano Man
James T. Callahan ... Reg Hanley (as James Callahan)
Paul Hampton ... Harry
Sid Melton ... Jerry
Virginia Capers ... Mama Holiday
Yvonne Fair Yvonne Fair ... Yvonne
Isabel Sanford ... The Madame
Tracee Lyles Tracee Lyles ... The Prostitute
Ned Glass ... The Agent
Milton Selzer ... The Doctor
Norman Bartold ... The Detective #1
Clay Tanner 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 October 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El ocaso de una estrella See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$9,600,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor appeared in Hit! (1973). See more »

Quotes

Louis McKay: Pardon me, lady. I must have got you mixed up with someone who used to reside as Missus, um... what's her name?
Billie Holiday: If that's what you thought, nigger, why'd you give me them damn flowers? Why didn't you just give me some money?
Louis McKay: I did.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in So Wrong They're Right (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't Explain
(uncredited)
music and lyrics by Arthur Herzog Jr. and Billie Holiday
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Ross Totally deserved the Oscar over Liza Minelli
8 April 1999 | by Rupe-5See all my reviews

I would be the first to agree that it was standard fare as far as a musical bio...and Cabaret was a superior film. But Diana Ross' performance was a stunning film debut. This is the kind of overlooked performance that makes it so clear that pure ability is not what the Academy Awards are all about. I tend to think really great acting always sneaks above the voting members scope of being able to truly reccognize great acting.

But anyone who hasn't seen Diana Ross' performance in Lady is in for a treat. To think that she went through so many transitions within the film: from youngster, to a drug addict, to a grand singer...it's a truly great performance.


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