Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles. Diana Ross as Billie Holiday. Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin. Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison.
These are just a few of the amazing performances we’ve seen in the movie genre known as the biopic, or biographical film. It’s been around since the beginning of motion pictures, focusing primarily on historical figures, presidents, authors, actors and other celebrities. Biopics on popular music figures first emerged in the late ’50s and early ’60s, with Hollywood treatments of such luminaries as Benny Goodman, Hank Williams and the like. But things didn’t really get rolling until the ’70s, when biopics of Billie Holiday (“Lady Sings the Blues,” 1972), Woody Guthrie (“Bound for Glory,” 1976) and Buddy Holly (“The Buddy Holly Story,” 1979) were nominated for, or won, Academy Awards for the star or the film.