Spellcheck: Billie, not Billy

This gorgeous photoessay by Robert O'Meally is not to be confused with the similarly titled DVD, which is also worth a look.

Billie Holiday had almost as many names as she had faces. Born Eleanora Fagan, she answered to Eleanora Gough after her mother’s brief marriage to Philip Gough.

When Eleanora got a a taste of stardom in Harlem, she took the stage name Billie Halliday. An early concert poster bears that spelling.
B I L L I E  H A L L I D A Y
The first name was borrowed from silent movie star Billie Dove, who was known as the American Beauty. She was courted by eccentric aviator and movie producer Howard Hughes.

Halliday was a derivation of Eleanora’s father Clarence’s last name. By the time Billie began recording, she had adopted her father’s actual surname, Holiday.

Of course, her one-time soul mate and sometime accompanist Lester Young bestowed the classy nickname “Lady Day,” a title that endures.

By Billie’s own account, the starlets she bedded supposedly called her “Bill.”

But she was never Billy. Not ever.

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