Brown Sugar


Friday, August 17, 2012

Lena Horne

So lovely!  Beautiful Profile!

6/30/1917 - 5/09/2010

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne


She has a weakness for Godiva chocolate.

Spouse (2)

Lennie Hayton (14 December 1947 - 24 April 1971) (his death)
Louis Jordan Jones (13 January 1937 - 15 June 1944) (divorced) (2 children) Gail Lumet Buckley, Terry Jones

While at MGM, her appearances in movies were shot so that they could be cut easily from the film. This was because MGM feared audiences of the day--but especially in the South--would not accept a beautiful black woman in romantic, non-menial roles. Many in the business believed that this was the main reason she lost out on playing the mulatto "Julie" in MGM's remake of Show Boat (1951). Ironically, the role was played by one of Lena's close off-screen friends, Ava Gardner, who practiced for it by singing to Horne's recordings of the songs, 

and Lena had already appeared in the "Show Boat" segment of Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)

, in which she appeared as "Julie" singing "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" (which was, as all her MGM appearances, shot in such a way that it could be easily edited out of the film).

Another irony is that she had been invited by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II themselves to play "Julie" in the 1946 Broadway revival of "Show Boat", but had had to refuse because MGM would not release her from her contract.
Her signature song is "Stormy Weather."

Lost her father, husband and son in one year.

She is the mother of journalist and author Gail Lumet Buckley, whose articles have appeared in Vogue Magazine (USA) and The Los Angeles Times (CA, USA); Buckley has researched and authored two books "The Hornes: An American Family" (New American Library, 1986) and "American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm" (Random House, 2001).

Lived in Manhattan's fabled West Side apartment building, the Apthorp, whose residents include Rosie O'Donnell, Conan O'Brien, Steve Kroft, Cyndi Lauper and Kate Nelligan.

Former mother-in-law of director Sidney Lumet. Lumet was married to Horne's daughter Gail Jones (Gail Lumet Buckley).

Inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1991.

She was branded a "Communist sympathizer" by many right-wing conservatives because of her association with Paul Robeson and her progressive political beliefs (which led her to be blacklisted in the 1950s).

According to her autobiography, she photographed so light in her initial screen tests that MGM was afraid people would mistake her for a white woman, so they had makeup legend Max Factor create a make-up line for her called "Dark Egyptian", so she could appear as a "Negro" onscreen. Ironically, Hedy Lamarr used this same makeup in White Cargo (1942) when she played a half-caste African native.

Sought the lead role in the controversial film Pinky (1949), about a black girl who passes for white. 20th Century-Fox boss Darryl F. Zanuck decided to take the safe road and choose a white star who had box-office appeal and picked Jeanne Crain. "Pinky," which was a slang term for a light-skinned black, won Crain her only Oscar nomination.

She has a weakness for Godiva chocolate.

She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Received a Special Tony Award in 1982 for "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music." She had previously been nominated for Broadway's 1958 Tony Award as Best Actress (Musical) for "Jamaica."

Grandmother of Jenny Lumet and Amy Lumet.

In Charles Whiting's book "The Long March On Rome", he reports that she refused to appear before racially segregated US Army audiences in WW2 Italy--since the army was officially segregated, the policy was to have one show solely for white troops and another show solely for black troops. Horne insisted on performing for mixed audiences, and since the US Army refused to allow integrated audiences, she wound up putting on a show for a mixed audience of black US soldiers and white German POWs.

Leslie Uggams is scheduled to portray her in a musical production "Stormy Weather" at the Pasadena Playhouse (California) starting January 2009.

Her father's name was Edwin F. Horne. Her mother was an actress, Edna Louise Calhoun Scottron.

Children from first marriage to Louis Jones: Gail Jones (b. 1938), aka Gail Lumet Buckley, and Terry Jones (b. 1939).

She was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6282 Hollywood Boulevard and for Motion Pictures at 6250 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

Made her last public appearance in 1999.

Was born on the same day, and same place (Brooklyn N.Y) as actress Susan Hayward .

Received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1989.

Received a honorary doctorate from Howard University in 1980.

Her favorite actor was John Garfield.

She was a lifelong liberal Democrat who was active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. She worked with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on anti-lynching laws and during the John F. Kennedy administration she was a frequent guest at the White House.

Release of the book, "The Hornes: An American Family" by Gail Lumet Buckley.

Release of her autobiography, "Lena" by Lena with Richard Schickel.

Release of her biography, "Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne" by James Gavin.

Personal Quotes (10)
I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept. I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked.  [quoted in Brian Lanker's book "I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America", New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1986)] 

My own people didn't see me as a performer because they were busy trying to make a living and feed themselves. Until I got to café society in the '40s, I didn't even have a black audience and then it was mixed. I was always battling the system to try to get to be with my people. Finally, I wouldn't work for places that kept us out . . . it was a damn fight everywhere I was, every place I worked, in New York, in Hollywood, all over the world.

You have to be taught to be second class; you're not born that way.

It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.

Always be smarter than the people who hire you.

A little nepotism never hurt nobody, honey. If you got it, use it. Press on with it. Remind them of it.

In my early days I was a sepia Hedy Lamarr. Now I'm black and a woman, singing my own way.

On love: Don't be afraid to feel as angry or as loving as you can.

My identity is very clear to me now, I am a black woman, I'm not alone, I'm free. I say I'm free because I no longer have to be a credit, I don't have to be a symbol to anybody; I don't have to be a first to anybody. I don't have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I'd become. I'm me, and I'm like nobody else.

[on Myrna Loy] A great star and a woman of accomplishment who is angry about all the right things.
See also

Billy Strayhorn's strong character left an impression on many people who met him. He had a major influence on the career of Lena Horne, who wanted to marry Strayhorn and considers him to have been the love of her life.

w/ Fats Waller

w/ Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson

w/ Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson

w/ son and daughter

Gail Lumet Buckley (daughter)

w/ hubby Lennie Hayton

with her children Teddy (Louis Jr.),  Gail

Love her hair like this!

w/ Redd Foxx on the set of 'Sanford & Son'

w/ Ralph Cooper in 'Bronze Venus' aka 'The Duke is Tops' (1943)

w/ Ralph Cooper in 'Bronze Venus' aka 'The Duke is Tops' (1943)

w/ Ralph Cooper in 'Bronze Venus' aka 'The Duke is Tops' (1943)

w/ Eddie Rochester in 'Cabin in the Sky' (1943)

                                                     w/ Joe Louis

(l) Bill Bojangles Robinson (r) Cab Calloway