SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
9000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Support Shorpy

Shorpy is funded by you. Help by purchasing a print or contributing. Learn more.

Social Shorpy


Join our mailing list (enter email):

Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Lady & Mister: 1947

Lady & Mister: 1947

New York circa 1947. "Billie Holiday and her dog Mister at a 52nd Street jazz club." Medium format negative by William Gottlieb for Down Beat. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5
To stay online without a paywall or a lot of pop-up ads, Shorpy needs your help. (Our server rental alone is $3,000 a year.) You can contribute by becoming a Patron, or by purchasing a print from the Shorpy Archive. Or both! Read more about our 2019 pledge drive here. Our last word on the subject is: Thanks!

The Billie Holiday biography

"Lady Sings the Blues" was largely "customized" by Bill Dufty. Having spent personal time with Billie on a few occasions (in Copenhagen and Philadelphia), I had my suspicions. Bill, who became a friend of mine (in later years when he was married to Gloria Swanson), confirmed that he had indeed been overly creative with that book. The well-known opening sentence was, for example, his. The subsequent Diana Ross film was almost total fabrication. As for the gardenia story, I'll have to check my 1959 interview, but it differs from the one related here.

["Lady Sings the Blues" is a ghostwritten celebrity autobiography, with ghostwriter Dufty's name on the cover. So none of this is particularly surprising. - Dave]

The published cover credit is "Billie Holiday with William Dufty", Bill never regarded himself as a ghostwriter but neither did he reveal that much of the book's content was of his making—although attributed to Billie. He allowed me to read some of the passages that Doubleday, for various reasons, cut. This included a somewhat revealing incident with actor Charles Laughton, which he for understandable reasons claimed never happened. Dave, I was not attempting to reveal a secret but most people today believe this an honest account. Bill himself wasn't hiding the facts that he had made up much of the book's content. Having read what Doubleday redacted, I think they made a costly misjudgment.

The gardenia tradition

The story goes that one night Lady burned her hair in the dressing room while preparing for a performance. The remedy was to cover the burned locks with several fresh flowers. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Your best friends always remember you

Billie served eight months in federal prison for narcotics possession. She recounts her return in her autobiography Lady Sings the Blues. She was trying to slip in unnoticed, but Mister was not on board with that plan.

"When I got off the train I knew Mister wouldn't recognize me. ... Man, how cheap I played that dog! He not only recognized me, but in a flash he leaped at me, kicked my hat off, and knocked me flat on my can in the middle of that little station. Then he began lapping me and loving me like crazy."

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2019 Shorpy Inc.