Louis Armstrong was a gifted actor—the camera loved him—and he appeared in more than twenty feature motion pictures. Unfortunately, due to racism in the movie industry, Louis and other black musicians were often limited to walk-on roles (appear on screen, perform a musical number, exit screen) so that when the film was distributed in the American south, the segments with the black musicians could be deleted without disturbing the continuity of the story. Ironically, many of these motion pictures are today remembered chiefly for Louis’s appearances.
ACTOR AND MUSICIAN
In 1932, Louis Armstrong had only appeared in three films but for his trip to Europe, he listed his occupation on his passport as “Actor and Musician.” He already knew the impact being in movies would have on his career and he wasn’t about to stop. He continued appearing regularly in films–and later on television–for the rest of his career.
Because Louis was a guest on all the top television shows and because many of his concerts were filmed, there is an abundance of video footage of Louis Armstrong available on DVD and on YouTube. The following list of suggestions from the Louis Armstrong House Museum highlights a few favorite motion pictures and commercial DVDs, in chronological order.