July 17, 1959
Billie Holiday died in a New York City hospital from cirrhosis of the liver after years of alcohol abuse, aged 43. (While under arrest for heroin possession, with Police officers stationed at the door to her room.) In the final years of her life, she had been progressively swindled out of her earnings, and she died with $0.70 in the bank. Holiday had a longtime addiction to drugs and alcohol, but evidence suggests she died from a kidney infection. Among Holiday’s best-known songs were “Lover Man,” “Strange Fruit” and “God Bless the Child.” It was not until 1986 — 27 years after her death — that she was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
She served time in prison and had a number of lesbian relationships while incarcerated. Throughout her career, Holiday was openly bisexual and was rumored to have dated a notable…
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