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

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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?


First-ever feature documentary on the life of legendary jazz vocalist Anita O'Day. 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

Leonard Feather's comment... comment... comment
8 December 2013 | by brenthosierSee all my reviews

I've not seen the documentary in full, but I've seen a lot of the footage that I know to be on it. My comment is mainly about mgconlan's '09 comment about Leonard Feather's comment about Anita being the only white female Jazz singer to equal what we think of as "the big 3" female Jazz singers. I agree with Feather. mgconlan points out other white femmes of note. I'm not that familiar with the Boswells or Bailey. Christy is too cool, too icy. I don't mean that in a bad way, I just find her style limited. In the mid-Seventies I became a fan of Chris Connor. "Lonely Woman" was the first song I heard by her, which is about as "outside" as she got on record. But I collected Bethlehem for her early stuff ( what she was doing in the early Fifties was pretty advanced) and Atlantic, of which I've owned almost all of her releases. I love her, but she is no Anita O'Day. Color being the theme - listening to Ella, she very often sounds white, yet still has the Jazz feel. Anita may sound "blacker" in a sense, but it is more her sense of feeling - this woman could throw some curve balls melodically while fooling around with the time and deconstruct a tune like nobody else. She could really read 'em. I put her up there with the big 3.

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