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The One & Only Lena Horne


shearerchic04

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I just sent her an autograph request. She has sent me one in the past, but it was a picture of her when she was older and this is one is when she is young, She is extremely gorgeous. even in old age, she looks good. She has aged very well. While at MGM, her appearances in movies were shot so that they could be cut easily from the film. This was because MGM feared audiences of the day, (especially in the South, would not accept a beautiful black woman in romantic, non-menial roles. Many in the business believed that this was the main reason she lost out on playing the mulatto Julie in MGM's remake of Show Boat . Ironically, the role was played by one of Lena's close off-screen friends, Ava Gardner, who practiced for it by singing to Horne's recordings of the songs, and Lena had already appeared in the "Show Boat" segment of Till the Clouds Roll By , in which she appeared as Julie singing "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" (which was, as all her MGM appearances, shot in such a way that filmed so that it could be removed easily). Another irony is that she had been invited by Jerome Kern and 'Oscar Hammerstein themselves to play Julie in the 1946 Broadway revival of "Show Boat", but had had to refuse because MGM would not release her from her contract.

 

I also just found out that Lena sought the lead role in the controversial film Pinky, about a black girl who passes for white. 20th Century-Fox boss Darryl F. Zanuck decided to take the safe road and choose a white star who had box-office appeal and picked Jeanne Crain.

 

I do wish that TCM would show more movies with her "appearances" in them, like Broadway Rhythm, I Dood It, or Thousands Cheer.

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This is what you call "ethereal" beauty!!! This is the photo I sent to be autographed. Are there any other Lena Horne fans on here???

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I love Lena. I can't get enough of her. One of my favorite performances of hers is a duet with Sinatra on one of his TV shows, where they sing a medley of songs, including The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. I heard he had a fling with her, and who wouldn't. I love the episode of Sanford and Son that she appears on, where Fred calls her "The Horne."

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I like Lena Horne. The "one and only" is RIGHT. She had so much class, charm, beauty...well she has it all. And man could she sing. She had a sort of effort-less grace, IMO. I recall her lovely smile while she was performing, that twinkle in those lovely eyes that seemed to say to her audience..."just sit back and watch and listen, I'll do the rest."

 

Nothing against the other actresses, but I sure wish she could have received some of those other roles you mentioned. We could have seen her in full blossom.

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?This was because MGM feared audiences of the day, (especially in the South, would not accept a beautiful black woman in romantic, non-menial roles.?

 

That is a nasty rumor. Hollywood blames it on the South, but it was a Hollywood problem. That?s why Hollywood gave James Baskett, who was Uncle Remus in ?Song of the South?, a ?special? Academy Award for actor, since he wasn?t allowed in the white actor?s category. That was Hollywood that did that, not the South.

 

Dorothy Dandridge movies of the ?50s played well in the South, especially in movies where she fooled around with some white guys. Lena Horne was accepted in the South too. People in the South saw Lena Horne in many powerful- and glamorous-women roles.

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i just find jeanne craine playing a black woman in pinky ludicrous. in imitatation of life, susan kohner at least looked like she could've been mixed, but it looks like they didn't even put make-up on her. they said that when lena had her 1st screen test, she was so light, max factor created a makeup line for her called, "dark egyptian" so she could look black on screen. ironically hedy lamarr used the same makeup when she played tondelayo in strange cargo. see, that could've been a plum role for lena.

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FredCDobbs--while I appreciate that maybe you grew up in a town that was color blind, I have to disagree with what you say about growing up in the South. I too grew up and still live in the South and I remember things entirely different than you do. In my small East Tennessee hometown, there was a separate section in the theater for black folks with a separate entrance. I also remember the riots in Birmingham being shown on TV, you know the ones where Bull Connor turn the fire hydrant on against the folks protesting. I remember when I was in junior high that we had a 4 day riot in the larger town that my family moved to in 1966. I remember some civil rights workers being murdered while trying to register voters in Mississippi--your home state. So I can see where Hollywood would have gotten the idea that the folks who lived in the South weren't exactly holding hands and letting their neighborhoods be readily intergrated. Maybe it's the places I grew up but I don't think there was much acceptance back then.

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We?re talking about movies. I?m saying that white people went to see movies with blacks in them. White people were crying in their popcorn at the end of both versions of ?Imitation of Life?. They flocked to see ?Pinky?. They thought Lena Horne was beautiful, and also Dorothy Dandridge.

 

Here?s a interesting statistic I accumulated back when I was a reporter in Mississippi in the ?80s and ?90s. During the two decades of the ?50s and the ?60s, there were about 20 lynchings, murders, killings of blacks by whites. An average of 1 per year. But in the year 1994 alone, in Jackson alone, a town I grew up in, there were more than 120 murders of blacks by blacks and no murders of blacks by whites. Where are the ?Mississippi Burning? movies about the large number of black on black murders? And they have always exceeded the white on black murders throughout the history of the state.

 

For the past 30 years Hollywood has blamed ?the South? for the racism of Hollywood itself. But it was Hollywood that made blacks in films into stupid idiots, servants, yard boys, and janitors. They did the same thing with Chinese and Mexicans. Whereas in Mississippi there were black doctors, lawyers, dentists, store owners, PhD professors, etc., which were never portrayed in Hollywood films.

 

The New York TV networks and Hollywood don?t report those statistics, and they NEVER report black on white murders that take place every year in Mississippi. I covered such murders every year during my 10 years as a reporter there, but they never got any network TV coverage.

 

The vast majority of black people in that state are fine family oriented people, but the problem is with the drug addicts and the gang members. There are plenty of white on white murders in the sate too, much like other states today.

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During the 30 years I lived in Mississippi, in the ?50s and again in the ?80s and ?90s, I saw only 2 ?blackface? routines, and both were in parades, where a couple of the white guys put on blackface makeup while acting stilly. Only twice in 30 years.

 

But how many times do we see blackface routines in Hollywood movies, going back to Al Jolson in ?The Jazz Singer? in 1927? Hollywood did it hundreds of times. Jolson made millions of dollars doing it for New York and Hollywood audiences.

 

In the mean time, I used to go to rock concerts in Mississippi in the ?50s where Little Richard was the featured star, and Chuck Berry, and Fats Domino. White kids paying for and dancing to the music of black entertainers, all over Mississippi.

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Fred,

 

There was plenty of racism all around the country during most of the 20th Century. It wasn't confined to just the South. Cities and towns all across America contributed by keeping people of color and of religion from joining various organizations, groups, unions, etc.

 

Hollywood may have been a willing participant but it was by no means steering the boat. More often than not, it was responding to what people expected to see when they went to the movies. If Americans had been willing to pay to see black people on an equal footing with whites, Hollywood would have been making those movies because they would have made money. But that's not what happened.

 

Blacks couldn't stay in certain hotels in New York, Miami, Chicago, and other cities. They had to sit in segregated areas of movie theatres and not just in the South but throughout the country. They were not allowed to stay in hotels in Las Vegas or dine in the restaurants, black performers could not even use the dressing rooms, because no one wanted to upset the high rollers back then (read white southern males).

 

If it was only Hollywood that was practising this racist attitude then black soldiers should have been welcomed with open arms into the armed services of this country during WW2, black athletes would not have been regulated to the blacks only sprots teams, black performers would have been able to stay in whatever hotel they wanted to and eat in the finest restaurants and blacks could have lived in any neighborhood they wanted to in any city in America.

 

But the reality is that the armed services were segregated for most of WW2, it wasn't until Jackie Robinson came along that the color line was broken in sports and it wasn't until the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, that blacks were allowed to stay, eat and live in the neighborhoods that were formerly closed to them.

 

As a journalist who undoubtedly risked his life covering the Civil Rights Era of the South, I am always surprised that you feel Hollywood is to blame for this. People, both black and white, were working together and risking their lives throughout the South, not to improve the role of blacks in Hollywood movies but for the basic rights of voting, owning property and to not have to sit at the back of the bus, drink from separate fountains, take their meals at the back door and to be treated like people.

 

Message was edited by:

lzcutter

 

Message was edited by:

lzcutter

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FredCDobbs

 

I always enjoy reading your posts on cameras and about your career as a reporter. I hope to continue doing so.

 

Your views on Hollywood and New York I find amazing. There was/is racism in every state. I did not grow up in "the South", and I certainly did not grow up in your "the South". It sounds idyllic. I did spend alot of time in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Florida in the late 50's and early-mid 60's, because my brother was stationed at different Air Force Bases in those states. The racism we experienced and observed was simply deep-seated and appalling. My family and friends did not experience or witness this racism through any Hollywood or New York filter.

 

By the way, you mentioned your "interesting statistic" you accumulated, which was in the decades of the 50s and 60s there were 20 lynchings of blacks by whites. Well, in the decades 1910 to 1949, there were about 895. The leading state in lynchings was Mississippi.

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I think Hollywood's image of blacks as servants was more damaging than Al Jolson and singers in black face. A lot of those singers wore the make up as a tribute and to remind people where the songs came from. The servant image was more demeaning because most of the time, they were talked down to or ignored by whatever actor/actress played the employer, as secondary citizens. I think this did influence people's views of blacks just the way today, Hollywood has done a 360 and can't make a movie about modern race relations without whites coming out as racists. A lot of people see a movie or watch the news and they think that little biased slice of life is indicative of a nation as a whole, and form an opinion accordingly. Though Hollywood and the media are not the only ones to blame, since politicians play that card to buy votes, thus keeping the illusion of institutional racism alive.

 

I just read an article in American Heritage magazine on Pat Boone, in relation to Little Richard and Fats Domino, in the 50s. Back then, pop radio stations wouldn't play R&B, so a lot of white people didn't listen to it. Pat Boone recorded covers of Little Richards and Domino (changing Domino's song "Ain't it a Shame" to "Ain't that a Shame") and acted as a buffer in introducing more whites to their music.

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