Ada Leonard

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Ada Leonard
Ada Leonard Billboard.jpg
Background information
Born (1915-07-22)July 22, 1915
Lawton, Oklahoma
Died November 29, 1997(1997-11-29) (aged 82)
Santa Monica, California
Genres jazz, swing
Occupation(s) Musician

Ada Leonard (July 22, 1915 – November 29, 1997) was an American bandleader.

She was the leader of the All-American Girl Orchestra, the first all-girl group to tour with the USO during World War II.[1] The big-band band leader was a performer with a background in musical performance.

Early life[edit]

Ada Leonard was born in Lawton, Oklahoma on July 22, 1915.[2] Her father was an actor, and her mother a dancer who also played several different musical instruments.[2] Before she embarked on her career as a big band leader, she performed as a burlesque dancer.[2]

Musical career[edit]

While Leonard played the cello and the piano, she did not play either instrument professionally.[2]

The Ada Leonard Orchestra was the first all-girl band officially signed by the USO, and they performed at army camps throughout the United States during World War II.[3] From 1952 to 1954, she hosted a variety show on television and subsequently went on to realize her ambition of leading an all-male big band.[2]

She was married, and widowed, twice: first to George L. McCall, who had managed her career; and, subsequently, Dr. Harold Bernstein, one of the founders of the Reiss-Davis Clinic. She died in Santa Monica, California on November 27, 1997, at the age of 82.[4]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ McGee, K. A. (2009). Some liked it hot: Jazz women in film and television, 1928-1959. Middletown, Conn: Wesleyan University Press. [1].
  2. ^ a b c d e "Ada Leonard Biography". Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Tucker, Sherrie (2000). Swing Shift: "All-Girl Bands of the 1940s. North Carolina: Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822328179. 
  4. ^ "Ada Leonard Bernstein: Led All-Woman Orchestra". Los Angeles Times. 3 December 1997. Retrieved 9 February 2014.