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Stormy Weather (1917-2010)
May 10, 2010 4:15 AM   Subscribe

Lena Horne dies at 92.
posted by iviken (68 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
She will be missed. Such an amazing voice.
posted by Fizz at 4:16 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


She was a seriously class act. Glad she lived to such a ripe old age.

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posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:21 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by Obscure Reference at 4:23 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by Thorzdad at 4:30 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by Pendragon at 4:32 AM on May 10, 2010


The quote from her, at age 80, that comprises the last paragraph of the NYT obit, is a beautiful thing.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:33 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


YouTube link: Lena Horne at The Cosby Show (1985).
posted by iviken at 4:36 AM on May 10, 2010


Lena Horne on The Muppet Show (1976).

She was the first black guest star the show ever had.

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posted by Faint of Butt at 4:44 AM on May 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by sammyo at 5:00 AM on May 10, 2010


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And thanks for that link to The Cosby Show clip. That was my first introduction to her as a small child. She was so, so beautiful! I remember her singing so vividly.
posted by bluefly at 5:01 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by el_lupino at 5:05 AM on May 10, 2010


Wow.

Wow.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:07 AM on May 10, 2010


Definitely you over Kate Smith, Lena.

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posted by kuujjuarapik at 5:10 AM on May 10, 2010


Stormy Weather. Man this sucks. Lena Horne, at her best she was grace and elegance in the form of a person. In the Wiz her smile was so pretty you could feel it - like looking at the sun, it made you squint.

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posted by cashman at 5:14 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


On Sesame Street, singing 'Being Green' with Kermit.

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posted by box at 5:15 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good - it was already linked. Can't find a good Wiz clip.
posted by cashman at 5:16 AM on May 10, 2010


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So cool.
posted by applemeat at 5:19 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by jquinby at 5:31 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by kimota at 5:34 AM on May 10, 2010


'Rocky Raccoon' w/Gabor Szabo.
posted by box at 5:35 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by Drasher at 5:43 AM on May 10, 2010


My sister told me once that Lena Horne was always considered "too light for black parts, too dark for white ones". In the entertainment business of 60 years ago this meant there were very few roles for her, but she was simply too talented and beautiful and charismatic to be passed over. So in many of her movie roles her part would consist of appearing and singing one song.

It speaks volumes of just how talented Lena Horne was that she became a legend despite the barriers she faced and the limited opportunities available to her.

Rest in peace, Lena.
posted by orange swan at 5:46 AM on May 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


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She was the epitome of class.

(And the countdown to the biopic starring Halle Berry begins right about now...)
posted by fuse theorem at 5:48 AM on May 10, 2010


No smile will ever match that smile.
posted by grabbingsand at 5:59 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:01 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:03 AM on May 10, 2010


I saw exactly two Cosby shows. The one with Lena Horne and the one with Danny Kaye.

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posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:18 AM on May 10, 2010


All class, as said above.
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posted by Wolof at 6:30 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by grubi at 6:36 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by Smart Dalek at 6:49 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by dirtdirt at 6:57 AM on May 10, 2010


Is it shallow of me to mention that when I was a teenager and she must have been in her sixties, I though she was really hot?
posted by adamrice at 6:57 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by tzikeh at 7:08 AM on May 10, 2010


RIP.
posted by jonmc at 7:09 AM on May 10, 2010


Lena Horne once said that she knew that people thought she had a sexy mystique. She said she didn't think she did. She just didn't like a lot of people. She especially resented people who seemed to be in awe of her because of her appearance. "You know. 'She's good-looking, but she can't do nothing.' "

She lost a lot of people in her life who were dear to her and she carried it around with her. She talked in interviews about her wonderment that all of the people in her life who meant anything to her -- her father, her son, her husband, her best friend Billy Strayhorn -- were gone and she was still hanging around.

I hope she gets to meet up now with all of those people she cherished so much.
posted by blucevalo at 7:10 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by JeffK at 7:27 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by kuppajava at 7:27 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by contessa at 7:30 AM on May 10, 2010


I mentioned elsewhere how lucky we were to be introduced to these people on the Cosby Show, Sesame Street, all that, instead of as inaccessible "stars" on awards shows or documentaries. I hope my kids are lucky enough to have that experience - to get friendly and familiar with some of the greatest performers in the world, recognizing these people as easily as they might recognize Oscar the Grouch.

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posted by Madamina at 7:39 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by yeloson at 7:44 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by HumanComplex at 7:54 AM on May 10, 2010


From 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley's obituary:
Jazz music was at the center of many things Bradley did - it was always playing in his office and it was the theme of what he considered his best work. The interview with Lena Horne was what Bradley would answer when asked what his best interview was. Of the interview in which Horne poured out her soul to Bradley, he said, "When I get to the pearly gates and St. Peter asks what have I done to gain entry, I'll say, 'Have you seen my Lena Horne interview?'"
TV.com has the video.


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posted by zarq at 8:09 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by lord_wolf at 8:10 AM on May 10, 2010


What a tragedy... to think that spectacular beauty and talent weren't enough. Born too soon... amazing woman.

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posted by kinnakeet at 8:30 AM on May 10, 2010



posted by Heretic at 8:43 AM on May 10, 2010


So many great muppet show and sesame street appearances!

This one's great: I Got a Name (song at 4:19)

and

ABCs, How do you do? (with Grover), Being Green (with Kermit)
posted by jardinier at 8:44 AM on May 10, 2010


A giant among giants.

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posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:47 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by Halloween Jack at 8:58 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by aerotive at 9:00 AM on May 10, 2010


Well, sadly, that Lena Horne interview posted by zarq is not the entire thing. It's a very very small portion of what is obviously a much longer interview. Still, great to see her beautiful smile.

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posted by hippybear at 9:05 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by zizzle at 9:32 AM on May 10, 2010


It was because of Lena Horne that many of the "restrictive covenants" -- odious quasi-legal rules about not selling a house in a white or Christian neighborhood to a non-white or non-Christian person -- were broken in Los Angeles. She deserves kudos as a civil rights trailblazer for this.

Horne was involved with Lennie Hayton (who was Jewish, and the musical director for MGM) in the early 1940's, at a time when interracial marriage was still illegal in California. They bought a house in Nichols Canyon, Los Angeles, which is a narrow, windy road, north of Franklin, near Laurel Canyon. Nichols Canyon was home to many artists and bohemians and a large gay and lesbian population, and it was hoped that this mix of residents would prevent people from trying to oust Horne and Hayton from their home for being, respectively, African-American and Jewish. From "Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne" by James Gavin:
"The fallout came only weeks after Horne's arrival. While performing in May at Chicago's Chez Paree nightclub, she learned that a local real estate agent was trying to push her out. Because restrictive covenant laws did not apply to her home, a local Realtor had founded "The Association for the Prevention of Gravel Snatchers" -- a league intended, supposedly, to stop thieves from from stealing gravel from driveways. But convoluted wording included an anti-Negro clause. The couple of "members" began knocking on doors and asking for signatures. Most people, especially Garrett, were furious and refused.

Even so, Horne told the Chicago Defender that someone had advised her "to return home immediately and prepare for the worst." She wouldn't back down, she said. "I like comfort and my home is comfortable and I do not intend giving it up without a struggle. She and Hayton took steps to protect themselves. They built a wall around their house and bought a gun, which Hayton taught her how to use. "I kept it in the corner, all handy," she said."
"The Association for the Prevention of Gravel Snatchers" -- worst secret evil conspiracy name ever?!

Larry Parks and his wife actress Betty Garrett also lived on Nichols Canyon, nearby. Actress Ava Gardner, Horne's very close friend (and some say her lover, later), moved to the street shortly thereafter.

My husband's uncle bought the Horne/Hayton house 30+ years ago and still lives there. (Unfortunately, the house is in terrible shape, mostly from chronic neglect and hoarding, but also because building a home so close to a steep slope with no drainage ditch was a bad idea.) He was filled in on all sorts of great stories about the canyon's history by a neighbor, an older gay man who had lived there for years. The house may go up for sale sometime late this year or next year.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:41 AM on May 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by Lynsey at 10:10 AM on May 10, 2010


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posted by New England Cultist at 10:11 AM on May 10, 2010


Oh, what a loss. My husband and I were listening to Ella's version of Stormy Weather this morning on the way to work, and talking about the emotion and depth that made Lena Horne's the definitive version. (Though Billie Holiday, no surprise, did a moving take on the song too.)

Lena Horne had such a difficult time, and was such a truly dazzling person, that the contrast makes you blink. Yeah, I'm just blinking, a little something in the eye.

A sweet hereafter to you, Lena.

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posted by bearwife at 10:27 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sanford and Son, "A Visit from Lena Horne" (parts 2 and 3).
posted by kirkaracha at 10:37 AM on May 10, 2010


Horne was involved with Lennie Hayton (who was Jewish, and the musical director for MGM) in the early 1940's, at a time when interracial marriage was still illegal in California.

She later married Hayton. They had to move to France and keep their marriage a secret for three years.
posted by blucevalo at 10:48 AM on May 10, 2010


Here Lies Lena Horne

Never Played a Maid


There's a lot to that, you know. Thank you, Lena... for so many things. For Sweet Georgia Brown and Now! and that daffy, down-home Rocky Raccoon. "Legend" doesn't even cover it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:15 AM on May 10, 2010


Now what will Lemont do?
posted by stormpooper at 11:41 AM on May 10, 2010


I was lucky enough to work backstage with her. We became friends and I became her backstage gopher. When she needed a late evening snack, I'd tell her driver where to go. One night she sent her limo driver to Popeye's Fried Chicken on 14th street. She had the sweetest voice. I will surely miss her. She was a real person and not some fake diva that some of these other folk try to pull off. We called her Ms. Lena. RIP Ms. Lena.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:47 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I first saw her on Sesame Street, and I later fell in love with her when the first girl I loved took me to see Stormy Weather. She was truly legendary. A sad day gets sadder.

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posted by bashos_frog at 1:31 PM on May 10, 2010


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posted by gummi at 2:41 PM on May 10, 2010


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posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 3:35 PM on May 10, 2010


There are lots of famous people from my hometown of Brooklyn, but she was, by far, the classiest.

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posted by notjustfoxybrown at 4:41 PM on May 10, 2010


RIP. To think of all she's seen through the years. An Amazing woman.
posted by Flex1970 at 8:05 PM on May 10, 2010


RIP. What more can be said? Everyone else has already said it: amazing, classy, beautiful, legendary, and a true talent. Lena Horne was one of the last few singers whose voice was instantly recognizable. You'd hear, for instance, 'Honeysuckle Rose', and whether you knew the song or not, you knew right away that you were listening to the gorgeous voice of Lena Horne. This is truly sad news. RIP.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:50 PM on May 10, 2010


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posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 4:07 AM on May 11, 2010


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posted by mikelieman at 1:53 PM on May 11, 2010


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