7.1/10
3,251
44 user 21 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 »
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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

Dorothy Dandridge was to star in the role of Billie Holiday in an earlier proposed film version of the singer's autobiography, but died before the film was made. See more »

Quotes

Billie Holiday: [after Louis discovers that Billie shoots up] Sure I've taken a few shots, but only when I needed it,
[Louis sighs]
Billie Holiday: but i'm not hooked, Louis. I'm not.
Louis McKay: Only when you needed it. What do you think hooked is? All I had to do is listen to your voice on the telephone and I knew. Who the hell do you think you're talking to? One of those ofay cats you be running around with? I've been on those streets all of my life. I know what that shit is!
Billie Holiday: It's good, ain't it?
[...]
See more »

Connections

Edited into Afro Promo (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

God Bless the Child
(uncredited)
music and lyrics by Arthur Herzog Jr. and Billie Holiday
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Did I see the same movie?
26 March 2001 | by spanky-22See 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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