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

Not Rated | | Documentary, Music | 30 April 2007 (USA)
1:52 | Clip

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


Robbie Cavolina (co-director), Ian McCrudden (co-director)
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Anita O'Day ... Herself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Louis Armstrong ... Himself (archive footage)
Buddy Bregman ... Himself
Dick Cavett ... Himself (archive footage)
Leonard Feather Leonard Feather ... Himself
Will Friedwald Will Friedwald ... Himself
Russell Garcia Russell Garcia ... Himself (as Russ Garcia)
Willis Holman Willis Holman ... Himself (as Bill Holman)
Eddie Locke Eddie Locke ... Himself
Johnny Mandel Johnny Mandel ... Himself
John Cameron Mitchell ... Himself
John Poole John Poole ... Himself (archive footage)
Denny Roach Denny Roach ... Himself
Annie Ross ... Herself
Billy Taylor Billy Taylor ... Himself


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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Documentary | Music


Not Rated


Official Sites:

additional site | Official site





Release Date:

30 April 2007 (USA) See more »


Box Office


$600,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs


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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 »

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User Reviews

A hard life but a fascinating journey
13 May 2013 | by jjnxn-1See all my reviews

Fascinating documentary on a great jazz singer who should be more well known. It was a tough life for Anita but the pluck which saw her through many hard times, some admittedly of her own making, is showcased front and center by reminiscences from the lady herself and backed by the people who either knew her when or admire her now. The documentary gives a sense of what kind of life was lived on the road by musicians when communities were scattered and touring was truly done in beat-up old buses and the sense of rootlessness that engendered. Some wonderful performances are highlighted and some terrific tales told of a certain kind of entertainment that is hard to find today.

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