Billie Holiday's Interesting Life

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  • Topic: Billie Holiday, Mother, Count Basie
  • Pages : 4 (1718 words )
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  • Published : April 29, 2013
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Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Sarah Julia "Sadie" Fagan (née Harris). Her father, Clarence Halliday (Holiday), a musician, did not marry or live with her mother. Her mother had moved to Philadelphia at the age of thirteen, after being rejected from her parents' home in Sandtown-Winchester, Baltimore for becoming pregnant. With no support from her own parents, Holiday's mother arranged for the young Holiday to stay with her older married half-sister, Eva Miller, who lived in Baltimore. Billie Holiday had a difficult childhood. Her mother often took what were then known as "transportation jobs", serving on the passenger railroads. Holiday was left to be raised largely by Eva Miller's mother-in-law, Martha Miller, and suffered from her mother's absences and leaving her in others' care for much of the first ten years of her life. Many people have disputed Holiday's paternity, as a copy of her birth certificate in the Baltimore archives lists the father as "Frank DeViese”. He lived in Philadelphia and Sadie Harris may have known him through her work. Sadie Harris, then known as Sadie Fagan, married Philip Gough, but the marriage was over in two years. Holiday was left with Martha Miller again while her mother took further transportation jobs. Holiday frequently skipped school and her truancy resulted in her being brought before the juvenile court on January 5, 1925 when she was not yet 10. She was sent to The House of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic reform school. She was baptized there on March 19, 1925 and after nine months in care, was "paroled" on October 3, 1925 to her mother, who had opened a restaurant called the East Side Grill, where she and Holiday worked long hours. By the age of 11, the girl had dropped out of school. Holiday's mother returned to their home on December 24, 1926, to discover a neighbor, Wilbur Rich, raping Holiday. Rich was arrested. Officials placed the girl at the House of the...
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