Friday, March 24, 2006

Lena Horne!

When you haven't seen someone perform for a very long time, sometimes you kind of sort of forget how truly truly GREAT they are. My dear dear old friend Danny F. from New York made up a DVD for me of Lena Horne’s “A Lady And Her Music”, which is almost impossible to get, anywhere! I tried to get the tape on Ebay and there was one but I lost it because some other collector bid higher than me in the last 5 seconds!! And then the seller offered it to me again, immediately…well, I didn’t get it because this seller had stated how “rare” and one-of-a-kind this tape was in the original auction, etc…and something didn’t feel right when they offered it to me immediately after the close of that auction, at the price I was willing to pay for this RARE-One Of A Kind Tape....So one day when I was talking to Danny F., I asked him if he had a tape of this show, and he said he did have it on three-quarter inch tape, which is actually a better quality, and he said he would be happy to make a DVD for me….And he did, and I got it, finally, yesterday in my late afternoon mail. (It was a few days ago now...the Blogger problems have kept me from uploading these images...till now, finally).

Well, my dears, I had the best time watching this stunning performer. It was like being transported back in time, once again, to The Nederlander Theatre, on Broadway, and to once again be thrilled by this inspiring performance. It’s a two act show and I wish it had gone on and on and on for another 6 acts….
So, what is this fabulous DVD? Well, it is Lena Horne’s one-woman show that she did in New York, in 1981-82 which I was lucky enough to see twice on Broadway, and then, once again, here in L.A. If you’ve never seen this woman perform ‘live’ this show is the closest thing you can come to it, and it is, as I said, thrilling…Absolutely Thrilling, beyond words. Miss Horne was 63 years old when this show opened,(Almost 64, btw). And she looked fabulous and sang fabulous….and everything about this show was superb in every way. This show was recorded ‘live’ in New York and I believe was shown on PBS and also there was a VHS tape, for sale…Somewhere I have a copy…maybe even two! But God only knows where they are...and another btw, Lena Horne won every Top Award you can win when you do a Broadway Show…The Drama Desk Award, The Tony Award, The Actors Equity Paul Robeson Award. And, on top of that, the Album of this show won a Grammy, too. So not having a clue to where that vhs tape might be, I am in Hog Heaven now that I have this DVD. And fyi this show, "Lena Horne, The Lady And Her Music" is available on CD….it's true you can’t see her, but you sure can hear her! And all I can say is, ”WOW”! (A Grammy for this….well, Of Course My Dears!!!!!)

If you don’t know much about Lena Horne, she was a pioneer in every respect from her MGM days, as the first woman of color to be put under contract by this studio, and to her contribution to the civil rights of people of color in this country, which cannot be minimized. She was also the first woman of color to appear on the cover of a major magazine. Think about that. We take so much of this for granted now....there's Oprah, appearing every month on the cover of her own magazine, Praise God, but without Lena Horne....maybe that might never have been possible.

She was very very brave and took chances that no other entertainer had done until she did what she did. Up to even the early 60’s black entertainers like Sammy Davis Jr., Harry Belefonte and Lena Horne, who all played the show-rooms of numerous Hotels, weather they were in Las Vegas or Miami Beach or New York or wherever…where they, as people of color, were not allowed to stay in the hotel rooms of those very grand hotels. Not allowed to rent a room there! Hard to believe I know, but true. Not only that, but beyond that horror, people of color were not allowed in as customers in these Hotel Show Rooms! Well, Lena Horne took a stand. She refused to work at any Hotel where she herself could not stay and where people of color were not allowed to be customers. This was incredibly brave because she took a huge chance that she would get no work right here in her own country, and singing was her livelihood…. She sang all over the world having played all the great cities…Paris, London, etc. In New York she played The Waldorf Astoria many many times. One of my very favorite albums of hers was and still is, “Live, At The Waldorf Astoria”. There is something about these live performances that gives you a spine tingling experience as if you were actually there. Her husband Lennie Hayton, a great arranger/conductor who she had met during her days at MGM, (Lena Horne’s days at MGM are really a whole other post) would do all her musical arrangements and would conduct the orchestra wherever they traveled and played. This was an interracial marriage; another very brave step considering it was the 1940’s! There is so much more to her life…There are any number of Biography’s on her, and many are worth reading…her life and career were filled with so very many ‘firsts’, you know? Her daughter Gail Lumet Buckley, (she was married to superlative director Sidney Lumet with whom she has two children) wrote a wonderful book about their family heritage called "The Horne's, An American Family" that, is a definite must-read.

On September 19th, 1994, Lena played a nightclub in New York City called The Supper Club. This performance was recorded “Live” and is actually available on DVD, which I bought as soon as I heard about it. Mind you now, in this performance Lena Horne was 77 years old! Beautiful, sexy beyond belief, (I know a lot of you younger people probably cannot imagine this…but, believe me, it’s absolutely true…and it was true when she was 63, too….Amazing Woman..) and still, on this DVD she is this fantastic vital alive performer. I know it will be very very hard to find “Lena Horne, The Lady And Her Music”, but this DVD from 1994, “An Evening With Lena Horne” is available, and is a stunning testement to her great great talent....I love this DVD, too!

This woman, who will turn 89 on June 30th, is one of the great performers of the 20th century. Do yourself a favor and get that DVD…you won’t be sorry. In fact, any CD’s or DVD’s that you can get of Lena Horne’s you won’t be sorry. For anyone who is serious about the musical history of our country, Lena Horne’s career is a must-study. Her life and her career are entwined with so very many of the greats of Jazz and Pop Music, Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Sinatra, Garland, etc., etc,., etc,. and films, too…One of the greatest honors we have in this country are The Kennedy Center Honors For Life Acheivment In The Performing Arts…and Lena Horne was the recipient of this award and rightfully award that was so well deserved in every way, it would have been a gross oversight if she had not ever recieved it....There is so much more I could say about Lena Horne, and maybe I will in another post at a future time...She is another great great inspiring performer that has enriched my life by her very presence in the world of theatre and music and films...I feel so very lucky to have seen her and been touched by her talent in such a very deep way...and that she can still touch me in this way now, in pretty amazing....Thank You, dear Lena Horne, for making this a better world in every way imagineable.

Links to this post:


had this to say:

Your site is always an education. Lena Horne and Netsukes in the same day.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 3:14:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Wow! I can't believe she'll be 89!! That's amazing. What a great post, I learned alot about her that I would not have otherwise known. THanks =)

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 6:31:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Lena Horne is the greatest. I also saw her Broadway show in the 1980s and it was every bit as spine-tingling as you suggest. I remember seeing a newsreel of one of those famous MGM luncheons from the 1940s where all the stars are put at tables in alphabetical order for a giant photo op and Betty Garrett kept leaning over to chat with Lena Horne. Were they good friends? Wasn't it appalling that MGM was too chicken to let Lena play the part she was born to play in the Howard Keel/Kathryn Grayson version of "Showboat?" I love Ava Gardner but Horne should have had that role (even Ava Gardner thought so). Do you know how Lena is doing these days? Does she go out in public much?

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 8:37:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

What a beautiful tribute and testament to the impact her life has had. Thank you for all that information, some of it I didn't know. I've never seen her live, I was a teen when she did the show in NYC in the 80s, but I have seen her perform on t.v., probably the PBS show or something. She is amazing in so many ways, as a performer, as an activist, as a woman, and incredibly beautiful, inside and out. I am constantly amazed at how beautifully she has aged, just gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.
Oh, and on another topic, on my blog you left a comment about the counter. I can't remember exactly what I did, but I do remember it wasn't complicated. I think I actually clicked on the counter on Mrs. A's blog and it took me to the website to set it up. I've got her linked on my page. Let me know if this works for you or if you need assistance.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 10:22:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I was in the room when my friend delivered her little girl, Lena is 12 now and yes she is named after Lena Horne. A stunning performer and your right still amazingly gorgeous ( we all should be so lucky!)

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 12:40:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I might have mentioned this before, but when I was a kid my father's bar mitzvah partner ran the casino at Caesars Palace in Vegas, and we used to go all the time. This guy would always get us the hottest tickets on the strip, and I got to see Lena Horn when I was about 11 or 12. I remember her show well, because she was mesmerizingly sexy. She literally exuded sexiness. And her voice! Oh my goodness, that woman sang like a bird.

Thanks for the reminder.

Here via Michele tonight

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 4:23:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Another inspiring post. Thanks again.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 4:23:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Lena is one that is stunningly gorgeous...a class act! Also one that never looks her age! WOW!

Here via Michele tonight!

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 4:24:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I have always admired Ms. Horne for being a person of such substance. It's easy for us to minimize her actions, but the courage it took for her to stand up for what was right is inrpiring to this day. How many among us would have the guts to do the same. Likely very few.

I love your windows on these people. They give us a perspective we otherwise wouldn't have. That perspective from the hills is apparently a very good one.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 4:36:00 PM PST 

Blogger T.
had this to say:

Ohh, I am a big Lena Horne fan, and your post is just fantastic! Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 5:56:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

What a beautiful tribute. Thanks for educating us about this phenominal woman.

Here from Michele's today - but a regular reader.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 6:06:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

What an amazing woman!!! Thanks for posting about her!

Michele sent me today.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 6:06:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

valderbar--Yeah..Netsuke's...(but not in the same post...LOL

Plum--You are welcome, dear Plum...

danny--Actually I know that clip very well..Betty is really sitting next to Gable who is next to Judy G. and on the other side of B.G. is Errol Flynn...they were in a strange sort of Alphebetical order..but not always accurate...Betty & Larry & Lena Horne & Lennie Hayton all lived on Nichols Canyon, so they were neighbors for years and years and...
I jeard from David G. that Ms. Horne lives in SAnta Barbara now...but I personally have no knowledge of that...And...I hope she is truly "well"..what a fantastic life..what a fantasic performer...

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 6:10:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Vancouver Voyeaur--Thank you for the info..Yes yes yesy...this is an inspiring performer.. She was on Sesame Street in it's first yeare and sang "It's Not Eazy Being Green" that was quite a metaphor...

WendyWings--how truly wonddrful, my dear Wendy...

Margalit--Absoultely true! Sexier than in a TRUE weay than any other performer I can think of..She brought so much heart to what she was singing about...

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 6:14:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

ViaMarie--Thanks, my dear..And you, too!

Yellowrose--Absolutely true! I wish I could look like she did at the age I'm at now...NOT POSSIBLE! (lol)

Carmi--You are sooooo very right,. Carmi. Courage I know I don't have. Oh I can speak out, but..truthfully...she could take the heat in the kitchen. Brave, beyond words!

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 6:17:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

T--Thank You dear T. And, Me, too! I've always been a big fan of the always fabulous Lena Horne. Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 6:19:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Few would deny her place in the jazz sound. It is a pity that the Love Songs collection does not offer a truer portrait of her soulful, idiosyncratic art. She has said that she did come into her own until the blazing emergence of Aretha Franklin (in 1967) inspired her to, in her own words, “open up”. But she was a soulful, moving singer even before Lady Soul redefined the female vocalist. What a LADY !!!

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 8:42:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Hi there...I've been here before via Michele and she's brought me here again tonight. Lovely tribute to Ms. do learn something new every day.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 8:53:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Naomi, I have loved Lena Horne since I first became aware of her in the 50's. She is a consummate performer and she gets more beautiful as the years pass. Her grace and elegance is still amazing.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 8:56:00 PM PST 

Blogger jac
had this to say:

naomi i just absolutely adore lena horne. what a beautiful, vivacious, and incredibly talented woman. thank you for painting your own picture of ms. horne. you have a way of making the topic of your writing to come alive right before our eyes. i'm here from michele's tonight.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 9:04:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Lena Horne is an beautiful woman whom I've always admired. Great tribute & thanks for stoppin' by my place.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 9:08:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Hard to believe she is 89! One of a kind performer.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 9:19:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Lena Horne is the bomb. But the last time I saw her, she was singing the ABC's on Sesame Street.

Friday, March 24, 2006 at 9:33:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I can't believe how amazing she looks!! I"m here from michele's today...hope you're having a great weekend!

Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 1:56:00 AM PST 

Blogger -E
had this to say:

What a wonderful post and an amazing tribute. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Michele sent me.

Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 2:49:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Lena Horne should be thankful for your featuring her in your blog. I don't think I've known her or maybe I have seen her broadway show and just couldn't remember. That was very very long time ago. She seems to be an amazing woman.

Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 6:19:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I like so much Lena Horne.
Yes, I also can't believe she will be 89! She looks so young!
As always, Naomi, your post is so GREAT! Many histories, many events!
You must write a book!!! Would be great!!!

Have a nice and happy weekend, dear Naomi!!!

Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 9:48:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I can't believe she is turning 89! Holy crap! I've always thought she was just beautiful. Great post!

Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 11:08:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Hi OOLOTH, hope you are having a great weekend, here from Michele's this evening.

Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 3:36:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Wow. I hate to admit this (and i hope you don't hold it against me) but i hadn't heard of her until I just read this post. But she has certainly had an amazing life. I always love to read stories about the people who have the courage of their convictions, I'm sure it took a great deal of courage to turn down appearances because she couldn't stay at the places.

Thank you for posting this.

Michele sent me.

Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 3:46:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Interesting and informative post. I shall trawl for some of her music and maybe a show video.

And Hello, today Michele sent me!


Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 5:12:00 PM PST 

Blogger srp
had this to say:

Lena Horne is amazing, like the energizer bunny. I only wish I had as much energy as she has, even though I am years younger.

Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 6:57:00 PM PST 

Blogger mar
had this to say:

I don't know her, Naomi, but I will make sure to look for her works. Thanks for widening our musical horizons!! Michele sent me this time, but I know my way to come over here, lol!

Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 10:53:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

hi again from michele's
it was lovely to learn a bit more about her. did you see 'the wiz' ? its the 70 black version of the wizard of oz. very tacky at the time but i still love it! she is the good witch at the end... lovely.

Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 11:12:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Lena Horne...what a lady with timeless beauty. I also thought about the weirdest place I ever saw her...did you know she was once on an episode of Sanford & Son? Funny I remembered that.

Here from Michele

Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 11:35:00 PM PST 

Blogger Kat
had this to say:

I can't believe she was in her sixties when she did that show! That's amazing. And she has aged incredibly well. Thanks so much for another entertaining, informative post, OOLOTH!

Sunday, March 26, 2006 at 8:24:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I am late getting here. What a lovely lady Lena Horne is. She has always been lovely and at her age she is still a beauty!! Amazing.

You always share such wonderful things with us Naomi. I truly enjoyed reading this. Thank you!

Sunday, March 26, 2006 at 2:52:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

My son shares Ms. Horne's birthday. Clearly it's a day for the amazing to be born. :)

Nothing like spending some time transported to another world by someone with a gift. Glad you got to enjoy it.

Here today by way of Michele's. Glad to be back over.

Monday, March 27, 2006 at 5:13:00 PM PST 

Blogger Pat
had this to say:

OK with you if I pop over this evening to watch the DVD with you;)
Don't worry about food- chocolate will suffice.

Monday, May 10, 2010 at 11:17:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I met the fabulous Ms Horne while she was touring with a lady and her music in Memphis, Tn. She was so gracious and again in Chicago at the water tower theater. My very first trip to New York was the week she was previewing her broadway show. Without a second thought I had to be there and was blessed to see the show 8 times during its run on Broadway. She was inspritational and I have never seen a show get standing ovations in the middle of the performance. She touched so many lives and certainly mine. I have the CD of the show and would love to have the DVD if its humanly possible. It was magic in the American Theater and there are not many moments like those. Needless to say there is not a talent like hers. She gave us so much of herself and left me with so many inspirational messages. And as she herself would say, "We all have to keep moving ahead, so life won't pass us by"////RICHARD in New York

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 11:43:00 AM PDT 

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