Skip to Content

Important Update

You will be required to provide proof of vaccination for entry to the theater (also applies to children 12 and above).
Click here for more information.


  • Close-up on Louis Armstrong, who smiles and holds his trumpet.


Wednesday, December 25

Presented by Will Friedwald

Special admission: $22 non-members, $15 members


Following Film Forum’s tributes to Ella Fitzgerald (2017) and Nat King Cole (2018), our third annual Christmas Day tribute to legendary jazz artists focuses on the man who started it at all. Throughout a career that lasted nearly 50 years, Armstrong (1901-1971) was the central figure in all of jazz and American music, the single most dynamic soloist and innovative improviser as well as a nonpareil singer, entertainer, and comedian.

This unique program, produced by Bruce Goldstein and hosted and compiled by Friedwald especially for Film Forum, surveys the career of the mighty Satchmo the Great, focusing on his many glorious duets with such legends as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Dean Martin, Barbra Streisand, Mahalia Jackson, Velma Middleton, Jack Teagarden, and such unlikely musical partners as Jimmy Durante, Danny Kaye, Perry Como, Jackie Gleason, Rex Harrison, and Johnny Cash.

“This unique, once-in-a-lifetime compilation is an exciting and vivid exploration of the most important career in all of American music,” says Friedwald. “From his early short subjects (including his first appearance, in a Betty Boop cartoon) and movie cameos, to such career triumphs as High Society and Hello, Dolly!, Armstrong’s film and TV performances not only transcend the racial barriers of his day but rise to the level of some of the most thrilling music of the 21st century. Digital. Approx. 90 min.

Will Friedwald writes about jazz and nightlife for The Wall Street Journal, and is the author of eight books on music and popular culture, including the award-winning A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers, Sinatra: The Song is You, Stardust Melodies, Tony Bennett: The Good Life and Jazz Singing. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations and appears frequently on television and other documentaries.

Friedwald will be presenting two additional compilations for Film Forum’s forthcoming BLACK WOMEN festival (January 17-February 13): Ella Sings the Gershwin Songbook (a reprise of Friedwald’s 2017 Christmas show) and The Complete Billie Holiday, a compilation of the known film and television appearances by the vocal great.

Image © Nationaal Archief.

Film Forum