Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne

Much like Daphne Moone off of Frasier, I am a little bit psychic.   Nothing major, nothing earth shattering...mostly inconsequential stuff that has no bearing.

This weekend, I kept thinking about Lena Horne on the Cosby Show and wondered aloud how old she was and if she was still singing.  

Odd huh?  Especially given she passed away yesterday.  

I'm not a huge Lena Horne buff, but I knew of her.   She was more of my mother's generation, but I loved her signature song "Stormy Weather" and read about her contribution to Civil Rights in the 60s and beyond.

In addition to her huge talent, she had a little bit of a temper.  Okay, a huge helping of temper when it came to civil rights.   During the war, she would perform for the soldiers, but the Military made her perform for the white soldiers first, and then the black.   On one famous occasion, when she returned to the mess hall to do the 2nd show, she saw the first few rows were full of white guys, and found out they had seated German prisoners of war in front of the black soldiers.   She flew into a rage and marched off the stage performing the entire show in between the dividing row with her back to the prisoners.  

On another occasion in the early 1960's, she was performing a show in the states and during her set, overheard a drunk white man hurl a racial slur at her.  She flew into a rage throwing an ashtray, a table lamp and whatever she could lay her hands on at the guy, cutting his chin in the process.   When the media caught hold of it the next day, phone calls letters and telegrams flooded in supporting her and she recognized the commonality of the black struggle for civil rights.

"Geoff, watch when she sings" I remember my mother saying with a smile, "she's known for her trademark snarl......the way she curls her lips when she sings....a lot of men still think it's attractive". 

Lena Horne had a smooth voice, both when she was singing and speaking, and performed well into her later years.   She was an amazing woman.


markwagnal said...

She was spectacular and will be greatly missed.

SteveA said...

I remember her timelessness and her class! She was such a beautiful woman!

Adventures In Gay Dating said...

I remember being shocked as a kid when I saw her candidly admit that she didn't care for white people during an interview. Lord knows, she had her reasons but it hurt my feelings that this beautiful woman that I love to hear sing, didn't like me just because I was white. It's sad that she let the racism and ugly treatment she received in Hollywood over the years turn her hard and bitter.

Charlie said...

I always watch "cabin in the sky" when it comes on TCM

Tom (Thomas) Rimington said...

Geoff: I understand the psychic thing... I don't have it all the time, but I know when it happens...

I try to tune in on it when it does happen and have often been quite surprised by the results...

I too liked Ms Horne, her performances, her cameos, but not so much her one-sided opinions... Although I can most certainly relate, she will never know what it feels like, or is, to be gay!



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