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 ...
Diana Ross is Billie Holiday. Diana Ross sings Billie Holiday and a superstar is born.
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Did You Know?
In Time Magazine, Richard Corliss named this movie as one of the Top 25 Important Movies on Race. See more
Some of the African-American male characters and extras sport modern (1972) hair styles with Afros or sideburns which were not in style in the 1930s. See more
[after Louis discovers that Billie shoots up
Sure I've taken a few shots, but only when I needed it,
but i'm not hooked, Louis. I'm not.
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!
It's good, ain't it?
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The Man I Love
music by George Gershwin
, lyrics by Ira Gershwin See more