July 22, 1915|
November 29, 1997 (aged 82)|
Santa Monica, California
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. The big-band band leader was a performer with a background in musical performance.
Ada Leonard was born in Lawton, Oklahoma on July 22, 1915. Her father was an actor, and her mother a dancer who also played several different musical instruments. Before she embarked on her career as a big band leader, she performed as a burlesque dancer.
While Leonard played the cello and the piano, she did not play either instrument professionally.
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. 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.
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.
- The Girls In the Band (2011) IMBDB Page- Documentary about female jazz and big-band instrumentalists from the 1930s to today.
- Official Trailer for The Girls in The Band (YouTube)
- McGee, K. A. (2009). Some liked it hot: Jazz women in film and television, 1928-1959. Middletown, Conn: Wesleyan University Press. .
- "Ada Leonard Biography". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
- Tucker, Sherrie (2000). Swing Shift: "All-Girl Bands of the 1940s. North Carolina: Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822328179.
- "Ada Leonard Bernstein: Led All-Woman Orchestra". Los Angeles Times. 3 December 1997. Retrieved 9 February 2014.