Lena Horne - A Tribute
The Lady Lena Horne
Ms. Horne, the voice, the lady, actress, singer, civil rights activist legend passed away on May 9, 2010. Lena braved the stormy weather of hatred, bigotry and racism. In World War II, while entertaining the troops for the USO, Ms. Horne refused to appear in front of segregated audiences or for audiences in which German POWs were seated in front of black service men.
Our US Army refused to allow the entertainer to perform in front of a integrated audience so the show was performed in front of Black servicemen and German POWs . . . what a system.
Horne participated in the NAACP rally with the late Megar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, a week before his assassination. Lena was also in the March on Washington, performed fro the NAACP, SNCC and the National Council of Negro Women and worked side by side with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass the anti-lynching laws. Horne was also a prominent member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Lena Teaching How to Save Fuel for the War Effort
To Ms. Horne, Her Life and Career
Lena Mary Calhoun Horne, born June 30, 1917 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. It is rumored that her family descended from the John C. Calhoun family (seventh Vice President of the United States under President John Q. Adams). Both her maternal and paternal family were of mixed heritage, African American, European and Native American.
Horne's family belong to what W.E. B. Du Bois called the "The Talented Tenth", upper middle-class well educated blacks. Edwin "Teddy" Horned (died 1970), left the family when Lena was three a numbers runner and gambling kingpin by trade. Mother Horne, Edna Scottron, who was the daughter of an inventor / leader of the black Republican party, Samuel R. Scottron (special mirror bracket) was well known in her field and traveled extensively.
Due to the scattering of family Lena was raised by her grandparents, Cora & Edwin Horne, in Brooklyn and then in Atlanta, where her grandmother convinced the young artist to join the NAACP. Horne dropped out of high school and in the fall of 1933 joined the chorus line of the Cotton Club in New York City. By 1934 she as a feature in the Cotton Club Parade, joined an orchestra and toured.
Tiring of touring and recently divorced from her first husband Lena replaced Diana Shore taking on the job of featured vocalist on NBC's jazz series The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Stree t. Even though at this time Horne was primarily a nightclub performer she had two low budget movies added to her resume The Duke is Top (19388) and a two reel short Boogie Woogie Dream .
It was during her stint at a nightclub one night that she was approached by talent scouts from Metro- Goldwyn- Mayer and became the first black to sign a long term contract with a major Hollywood studio. In 1942 Lena made her first movie debut in MGM's Panama Hattie while on loan to 20th Century Fox she first performed her signature song "Stormy Weather" (1943).
Horne appeared in several more musicals most notable was Cabin in the Sky. A leading role was never offered due to her ethnicity. Plus the cost of re-editing films in states that did not allow black performers on their screens. As it was a scene was cut from the artist's performance in Cabin in the Sky . Lena sang while in a bubble bath, and the scene was deemed to risque for audiences.
In 1951 there was a brouhaha about Lena Horne in the lead role of MGM's film version of Show Boat, the actress loss the part to Ava Gardner due to the ban on interracial relationships in film. The studio heads required that Gardner practice singing to Horne's recordings for the film, an action that angered both actresses. Ava Gardner's voice over was performed by another actress for the film. Don't you just miss the good old days!!
Mid 1950s the actress left Hollywood, disheartened by the treatment of people of color, and directed her talents to her nightclub career. Her last appearances on film under the MGM banner was Duchess of Idaho and Meet Me in Las Vegas. Horne was blacklisted due to her political views.
After which Horne stamped her career as a top notch nightclub performer headlining all over the U.S., Canada and Europe. A live album called Lena Horne at the Waldorf-Astoria be the largest selling album by a female artist in RCA-Victor history. Lena became a regular guest of TV variety shows, Perry Como, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Judy Garland Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Bell Telephone Hour and The Andy Williams Show .
Horne's talents were featured on two television specials for the BBC and her on in the U.S. Monsanto Night Presents Lena Horne.
Ms. Horne was the mother of two. A daughter Gail (who became a best selling author Gail Lumet Buckley) and a son Edin Jones who passed away in 1970 from kidney failure.
The world will miss this beautiful sultry star, her talent and graciousness is unsurpassed.
R.I. P. Lady Horne.
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