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Lena Horne has died

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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/10/arts/music/10horne.html

(excerpt)

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 Medical Center in New York. She was 92 and lived in Manhattan.

Ms. Horne and Cab Calloway in “Stormy Weather.” The title song became one of her signatures.

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.

“The only time I ever said a word to another actor who was white was Kathryn Grayson in a little segment of ‘Show Boat’ ” included in “Till the Clouds Roll By” (1946), a movie about the life of Jerome Kern, Ms. Horne said in an interview in 1990. In that sequence she played Julie, a mulatto forced to flee the showboat because she has married a white man.

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Lena was a true goddess. You look at her on the screen and you see a goddess. In those MGM movies, she wasn't as strong in stature as she became later on, but you still see a star. Even in those racist times, she still stands out more than a lot of stars, black or white, do today. And she was so elegant, which is now something to be looked down on, sadly.

I remember that episode of A Different World which honored her and her contributions. It was a nice little tribute to her.

I also love her version of My Blue Heaven. I listen to it a lot. Sadly that isn't online that I know of.

Here's another masterpiece.

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Oh nooooooo... on Mother's Day, her poor daughter. :( What a beautiful, classy, talented lady. I wish I was old enough to have seen The Lady and Her Music on Broadway, though I feel lucky to have been born in time for her resurgence in popularity and "curtain call" years in the '80s. She was a familiar face on Sesame Street and Cosby, and of course her showstopping number in the move The Wiz. I remember seeing her on Rosie O'Donnell's show and she was noticeably slower then, I guess that was over a decade ago. Rosie gave her a huge bouquet of Casablanca lilies, her favorite. I watched a documentary on her years ago and she said that it broke her heart that she never got the chance to play Julie in a full production. As a matter of fact, I think it was Valerie Pettiford then Lonette McKee who were the first black women to play Julie on Broadway.

May she rest in piece, a true legend.

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