As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are temporarily closed to the public as of Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time.
Billy Dee Williams (born 1937) has worked in film and television for nearly fifty years. He is best known for his role opposite Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues (1972), which focused on the life of Billie Holiday, and his work in two of the Star Wars movies, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). Williams has also worked as an artist throughout his life, having studied at the High School of Music and Art in New York City and later at the National Academy of Art. He specializes in acrylic paintings combining traditional brushwork with an airbrushing technique. In 1993 he created Self-Portrait with Gardenia, which references a famous scene in Lady Sings the Blues when his character, Louis McKay, offers a gardenia to Billie Holiday.