Main | Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne Dies At Age 92

If, wherever you were last night, you felt a sudden and distinct shudder in the gay universe, it's because the legendary, the incomparable, the beyond fabulous four-time Grammy winner Lena Horne passed away in Manhattan at the age of 92. Here's just the first couple of paragraphs of the New York Times' obituary.
Lena Horne, who was the first black performer to be signed to a long-term contract by a major Hollywood studio and who went on to achieve international fame as a singer, died on Sunday night at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital in New York. She was 92 and lived in Manhattan. Her death was announced by her son-in-law, Kevin Buckley.

Ms. Horne might have become a major movie star, but she was born 50 years too early, and languished at MGM in the 1940s because of the color of her skin, although she was so light-skinned that, when she was a child, other black children had taunted her, accusing her of having a “white daddy.” Ms. Horne was stuffed into one “all-star” musical after another — “Thousands Cheer” (1943), “Broadway Rhythm” (1944), “Two Girls and a Sailor” (1944), “Ziegfeld Follies” (1946), “Words and Music” (1948) — to sing a song or two that could easily be snipped from the movie when it played in the South, where the idea of an African-American performer in anything but a subservient role in a movie with an otherwise all-white cast was unthinkable.
Here's Lena's signature song, Stormy Weather, from the 1943 movie of the same name, followed by a couple of my personal favorites.

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