Billie Holiday was a singer of God Bless the Child, Strange Fruit, Lover Man and Fine and Mellow fame.
Biographical fast facts
Full, original or maiden name at birth: Elinore Harris *
Credits - Residences of Billie Holiday
Selected singing credits:
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Error corrections or clarifications
Without question, this is one of the best examples of the need for error correction. A seemingly endless number of factual inaccuracies exist regarding Billie Holiday. Her name, place of birth, and various other biographical information has been misreported by an overwhelming majority of reference sources for decades.
Her name is spelled "Elinore" on her birth certificate, but some medical records show her name as "Eleanor," while other medical documents spell it "Elenoir." Billie Holiday was not born Eleanora Gough, Eleanora Fagan Gough, Eleanora Gough McKay, nor Eleanora Gough Harris. Billie's mother did not marry Philip Gough until five years after her birth. Additionally, Philip Gough was not her biological father. Though born Elinore Harris, she was almost always referred to as Eleanora, until she took her stage name. Not wanting to trade on her father's fame as a jazz musician, she initially chose "Billie Halliday" as her stage name. In 1935, when her father expressed pride in her work, she made the decision to change it one last time to Billie Holiday.
Billie Holiday was most assuredly not born "April 17th, 1915" as a couple of sources report. She was not born in Baltimore, Maryland, as most reference books erroneously report. Birth records clearly show she was born April 7th, 1915, at Philadelphia General Hospital, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She certainly was raised in Baltimore, but was not born there. The birth data that appears above has been confirmed by her birth certificate, hospital records, and other government documents.
Frank DeViese is listed as Billie Holiday's father on her birth certificate, but Billie always considered Clarence Holiday to be her father.
Her first marriage was to Jimmy Monroe, and took place August 25th, 1941 in Elkton, Maryland. After her marriage to Monroe soured, she took up with musician Joe Guy. In hopes of legitimizing her relationship with Joe, Holiday made a false announcement in 1945 reporting that she had obtained a divorce from Jimmy Monroe, and married Joe. This subsequently led many sources to erroneously report she divorced Jimmy, but he actually refused to divorce her until long after she'd broken up with Joe. Years later, after she finally persuaded Monroe to agree to a divorce, Billie Holiday married Louis McKay.
NOTE: She did not write or even proofread her "autobiography." She later claimed that she never even read it. Researchers have found that her "autobiography" Lady Sings the Blues, is riddled with inaccuracies, so be very cautious about using any data it contains.
All of the following publications, in some past editions, have offered erroneous birth data on Billie Holiday.
Born This Day: A Daily Celebration of Famous Beginnings by Ed Morrow
Britannica Book of the Year
The Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia
Chase's Calendar of Events
Daily Celebrity Almanac by Bob Barry
Random House Famous Name Finder by Coral Amende
Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia
Time/Information Please Almanac
The Wordsworth Book of Days
It is not our intent to denigrate these fine publications, but merely to point out the above inaccuracy to prevent further dissemination of the erroneous data.
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