History

American Masters

American Masters, committed to producing comprehensive film biographies about the broad cast of characters who comprise our cultural history.

Jean Malin: Queen of the Pansies

5m 57s

Jean Malin was one of the first openly gay performers in the Prohibition era during the "pansy craze" of the early 1930s. Malin stood six feet tall, weighed 200 pounds, and had a wavy crop of blonde hair to die for. Although he was effeminate and a female impersonator, he was known to put hecklers and homophobes in their place with his wit — and his fists!

Episodes

  • Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase The Blues Away: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase The Blues Away

    S35 E9 - 1h 22m

    Dive into the career of the legendary blues guitarist, a pioneer of Chicago’s West Side sound and major influence on rock titans like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Featuring new performances and interviews with John Mayer, Carlos Santana and more.

  • Ballerina Boys: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Ballerina Boys

    S35 E8 - 53m 26s

    Discover Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (The Trocks), an all-male company that for 45 years has offered audiences their passion for ballet classics mixed with exuberant comedy. With every step they poke fun at their strictly gendered art form.

  • Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir

    S35 E7 - 1h 39m

    The story of the author whose first novel, “The Joy Luck Club,” was published to great commercial and critical success. With the blockbuster film adaption that followed as well as additional best-selling novels, librettos, short stories and memoirs, Tan firmly established herself as one of the most prominent and respected American literary voices working today.

  • Oliver Sacks: His Own Life (Audio Descriptive Version): asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Oliver Sacks: His Own Life (Audio Descriptive Version)

    S35 E6 - 1h 49m

    Explore the life and work of the legendary neurologist and storyteller, as he shares intimate details of his battles with drug addiction, homophobia, and a medical establishment that accepted his work only decades after the fact.

  • Oliver Sacks: His Own Life: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Oliver Sacks: His Own Life

    S35 E5 - 1h 49m

    Explore the life and work of the legendary neurologist and storyteller, as he shares intimate details of his battles with drug addiction, homophobia, and a medical establishment that accepted his work only decades after the fact.

  • Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story

    S35 E4 - 1h 23m

    After more than 30 years as the colorful bandleader of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, master trumpeter Doc Severinsen continues to defy nature well into his 90s with a grueling schedule of touring, performing and teaching. Trace the life and groundbreaking career of the unstoppable musical icon, revealing his personal trials and underscoring a remarkable journey of inspiration.

  • Twyla Moves: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Twyla Moves

    S35 E3 - 1h 22m

    Explore legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp’s career and famously rigorous creative process, with original interviews, first-hand glimpses of her at work and rare archival footage of select performances from her more than 160 choreographed works.

  • Flannery: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Flannery

    S35 E2 - 1h 23m

    Explore the life of Flannery O’Connor whose provocative fiction was unlike anything published before. Featuring never-before-seen archival footage, newly discovered journals and interviews with Mary Karr, Tommy Lee Jones, Hilton Als and more.

  • How It Feels To Be Free: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    American Masters: How It Feels To Be Free

    S35 E1 - 1h 53m

    A documentary that tells the inspiring story of how six iconic African American women entertainers – Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier – challenged an entertainment industry deeply complicit in perpetuating racist stereotypes, and transformed themselves and their audiences in the process.

Extras + Features

  • Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It

    S35 E19 - 2m 2s

    Discover how Moreno defied her humble upbringing and racism to become one of a select group of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award winners. Explore her 70-year career with new interviews, clips of her iconic roles and scenes of the star on set today.

  • How Rita Moreno became a social activist: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    How Rita Moreno became a social activist

    S35 E19 - 1m 6s

    Rita Moreno's first foray into social justice was attending the March on Washington with Martin Luther King, Jr. "I was there when he uttered the 'I Have a Dream' speech," she said. She continued to be a conscious activist throughout her career, fighting for Latine and women's rights.

  • Buddy Guy's Grammys: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Buddy Guy's Grammys

    S35 E9 - 1m 27s

    Buddy Guy discusses the gratitude he feels for winning multiple nine Grammys, including his first, which he won for his song "Damn Right I've Got the Blues."

  • How blues legend Buddy Guy got his hands on his first guitar: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    How blues legend Buddy Guy got his hands on his first guitar

    S35 E9 - 3m 38s

    Buddy Guy’s first guitar cost his father two dollars and only had two strings on it. He would go to sleep with it in his hand, walked around with it and played until his fingers almost bled. He taught himself his favorite John Lee Hooker song on that guitar.

  • The two people Buddy Guy admires most as a musician: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    The two people Buddy Guy admires most as a musician

    S35 E9 - 1m 41s

    On a trip to Germany, Buddy Guy met some of his musical heroes, including John Lee Hooker and Big Mama Thornton. Meeting them was a huge achievement for Guy; he said, “I don't care if I ever get a chance to make a record or nothin'. I done met the people who I admired the most as a musician."

  • Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase The Blues Away: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase The Blues Away

    S35 E9 - 1m 58s

    Dive into the career of the legendary blues guitarist, a pioneer of Chicago’s West Side sound and major influence on rock titans like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Featuring new performances and interviews with Carlos Santana and more.

  • Ballerina Boys: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Ballerina Boys

    S35 E8 - 2m 36s

    Discover Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (The Trocks), an all-male company that for 45 years has offered audiences their passion for ballet classics mixed with exuberant comedy. With every step they poke fun at their strictly gendered art form.

  • Watch these drag ballerinas get ready for a show: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    Watch these drag ballerinas get ready for a show

    S35 E8 - 2m 14s

    Dancers from "The Trocks," an all-male comic ballet company describe how performing in drag is empowering, even extending in to wearing pointe shoes, which are normally reserved for women. While they are painful, the enable some of the "best moments" in ballet.

  • What goes through a drag ballerina's mind while dancing?: asset-mezzanine-16x9

    What goes through a drag ballerina's mind while dancing?

    S35 E8 - 1m 32s

    A dancer from "The Trocks" describes what goes through his mind while dancing the part of Odette in Swan Lake. Is he trying to portray a man playing a ballerina? Or just a ballerina? At the end of the day, it's about relating to the audience.

Schedule

  • Image
    American Masters: TVSS: Iconic

    American Masters

    Raul Julia: The World's a Stage

    Monday
    Sep 20

    1 Hour 30 Minutes

    The life and career of Raul Julia, an actor known for his versatile roles on stage and screen, ranging from Shakespearean plays to "The Addams Family."
  • Image
    American Masters: TVSS: Iconic

    American Masters

    Raul Julia: The World's a Stage

    Monday
    Sep 20

    1 Hour 30 Minutes

    The life and career of Raul Julia, an actor known for his versatile roles on stage and screen, ranging from Shakespearean plays to "The Addams Family."
  • Image
    American Masters: TVSS: Iconic

    American Masters

    Unladylike2020

    Friday
    Sep 24

    1 Hour

    Women trailblazers help shape American politics at the turn of the 20th century; narrator Julianna Margulies; voice Lorraine Toussaint.
  • Image
    American Masters: TVSS: Iconic

    American Masters

    Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

    Friday
    Sep 24

    2 Hours

    Never-before-seen photographs and interviews with Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Lewis and others provide insight into Sammy Davis Jr.'s talent and journey for identity in Hollywood.
  • Image
    American Masters: TVSS: Iconic

    American Masters

    Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

    Friday
    Sep 24

    2 Hours

    Never-before-seen photographs and interviews with Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Lewis and others provide insight into Sammy Davis Jr.'s talent and journey for identity in Hollywood.
  • Image
    American Masters: TVSS: Iconic

    American Masters

    Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

    Saturday
    Sep 25

    2 Hours

    Never-before-seen photographs and interviews with Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Lewis and others provide insight into Sammy Davis Jr.'s talent and journey for identity in Hollywood.
  • Image
    American Masters: TVSS: Iconic

    American Masters

    Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

    Saturday
    Sep 25

    2 Hours

    Never-before-seen photographs and interviews with Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Lewis and others provide insight into Sammy Davis Jr.'s talent and journey for identity in Hollywood.
  • Image
    American Masters: TVSS: Iconic

    American Masters

    Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

    Sunday
    Sep 26

    2 Hours

    Never-before-seen photographs and interviews with Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Lewis and others provide insight into Sammy Davis Jr.'s talent and journey for identity in Hollywood.
  • Image
    American Masters: TVSS: Iconic

    American Masters

    Raul Julia: The World's a Stage

    Sunday
    Sep 26

    1 Hour 30 Minutes

    The life and career of Raul Julia, an actor known for his versatile roles on stage and screen, ranging from Shakespearean plays to "The Addams Family."

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