Monday, May 10, 2010

Farewell to Lena Horne, 1917-2010

Singer-actress Lena Horne, who helped break color barriers in her appearances in MGM musicals of the '40s, has passed away at the age of 92.

Horne was a specialty performer in PANAMA HATTIE (1942) before starring in two great musicals with all-black casts, CABIN IN THE SKY (1943), directed by Vincente Minnelli, and STORMY WEATHER (1943), made at 20th Century-Fox. She made guest appearances in films such as ZIEGFELD FOLLIES (1945) and WORDS AND MUSIC (1948), and she notably played Julie in a miniature edition of SHOW BOAT in the Jerome Kern biopic TILL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY (1946). (When MGM filmed a full-length edition in 1951, Ava Gardner played Julie; Gardner's vocals were on the soundtrack album but she was dubbed on screen.) Horne's last performance in an MGM musical was a guest performance in MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS (1956).

I have fond memories of seeing a double bill of CABIN IN THE SKY and STORMY WEATHER, circa 1982, at the Tiffany Theater in Hollywood. Reaching further back in my memory, I also vividly remember what was probably the first time I ever heard her sing: the "Honeysuckle Rose" number, originally from THOUSANDS CHEER (1943), excerpted in THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! (1974).

Many tributes have been posted to Horne today throughout the classic film blogging world, including at Motion Picture Gems, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, Self-Styled Siren, and Big Hollywood.

Update: Turner Classic Movies will be paying tribute to Horne on Friday, May 21st, with three films: THE DUKE IS TOPS (1938), CABIN IN THE SKY (1943), and PANAMA HATTIE (1942). TCM will follow the tribute by showing one of Horne's favorite movies, THE FALLEN SPARROW (1943), starring John Garfield and Maureen O'Hara.

TCM has already started running a lovely "TCM Remembers" tribute to Horne in between films on today's schedule.


Blogger monty said...

Great post Laura. I was just watching TCM and saw that beautiful in memory of Lena Horne spot. She will be missed.

5:16 PM  

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