Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne
1917-2010

Born in Brooklyn Lena always wanted to be a performer against the wishes of her middle class family and, aged 16, she danced in the chorus of Harlem's Cotton Club. She married a minor politician and suffered the humiliation and racial prejudice from hotels and restaurants that was rife in those days.
Inspired by Paul Robeson she took part in the struggle for equality and justice fo Afro- Americans and was the first Afro- American woman to have a contract with MGM.

In WW2 she used her own money to travel and entertain the troops and helped Eleanor Rossevelt to reach her goal of anti - lynching legislation. She helped to pave the way for the black actresses of today. I remember her as a beautiful film star whose voice I tried to emulate in my favourite of the songs she sang: Honeysuckle Rose.



17 comments:

Queenie said...

She was a real star. I love that song, too.

R. Sherman said...

She was one of those classic, beautiful, elegant ladies of yore, the likes of which we don't see any more.

Too bad, really.

Cheers.

Pat said...

Queenie: it's such a shame that so many people now have never heard of her.

Randall: 92 is not a bad age to go. The changes she must have seen!

kenju said...

I was always fascinated by her beauty and her voice. We've lost a great one. I just saw a video of her singing Stormy Weather - another of my favorites.

Eryl Shields said...

I had never paid Lena Horne the slightest bit of attention, for some reason I thought she was a bit dull, but wow that voice! And not only the voice, she sounds really interesting, I'll have to check out the obituaries. Thanks for the education, Pat.

Pat said...

Judy: I chose Honeysuckle because it made me smile remembering how I used to imagine I could sing and look like her flashing my eyes and the rest. Pathetic really.

Eryl: besides obits look up any you tubes, photos etc. There isn't much of her face on this one.
Dull she ain't. And I missed out her second husband who was more important - Lenny I think he was called.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Pat..I wrote about Lena Horne today, too. I had done a long post about her back in 2006 and I put a link to that post.
Her second husband was Lennie Hayton, who was an arranger/conductor at MGM and then later for her....I was lucky enough to see her One-Woman Show--THE LADY AND HER MUSIC", three times! She was a very very special amazing talent! A long life and a great career. She will be missed.

Pat said...

Naomi: I'm glad we both paid tribute to her; the more people know about her the better. I enjoyed yours and also the first one you did with great photos. I'd love to have seen her live.

debra said...

Her voice was like warm rain and honey--a classy, gracious woman.

miss diarist said...

She was a stunner, that's for sure. It's such a shame that people such as Lena are really only celebrated after they have died.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if, rather than mindless reality dross, television schedules were devoted to telling 'real' stories?

Pat said...

Miss D: they blame the lack of funds but there is also a dearth of imagination.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Yet another woman to admire. She was stunning yet she wasn't just another pretty face, I didn't know she did all that, thanks for sharing, Pat.

They don't play her music much here, too much junk on the radio today. Ain't that a shame?

Pat said...

GG: she isn't played here either. I hear her in my head.

problemchildbride said...

Great voice, but I was surprised to read she was black! Just from looking at her pictures I wouldn't have realised that at all.

Pat said...

Sam: back in the day we didn't say anyone was black and it still doesn't seem right. PC is so convoluted to my generation - one is afraid to open one's mouth at times:)

problemchildbride said...

It's OK to say black. In America anyway. To describe someone as coloured though is a no-no. My dad did it once while out here - innocently enough, just what he was brought up saying - but the rest of us just about died a writhing death. We were at a concert with black people right in front of us.

Pat said...

Sam: believe me I feel for your Dad.
I can only compare it with someone you have always called Hilary deciding that Hilary should be Heather. - as confusing and
nonsensical.
Lena had a lovely honey coloured skin. Why would we have called her black in ht forties?