May 10, 2010

“In 1966, my partners Sandy and Kelli Ross, my wife Sheilah, and I were guests of one of our clients, Quincy Jones at an NAACP dinner for Lena Horne. The singer/ actress was being honored for the break through she made in music and film. She was the first “colored” actress who became a sex symbol around the world, featured in “Cabin In The Sky”, “Panama Hattie”, “Til The Clouds Roll By”, and “Stormy Weather.”

Her musical segments in mainstream (white) films were shot so they could be easily removed when they were shown in the “segregated south”. They also could use these clips to play among selected “shorts” to accompany feature films in the more “liberal north”.

Although I was honored to meet Lena Horne, I wasn’t as excited I as let’s say meeting Diana Ross, or a Dusty Springfield, since I considered her more of my mother’s generation than mine. As the lights dimmed a short film ran that had me mesmerized, not only was she beautiful and talented, she was a tireless champion of Civil Rights.

According to Wikipedia, “During World War II, when entertaining the troops for the USO, she refused to perform “for segregated audiences or for groups in which German POWs were seated in front of African American servicemen”, [7] according to her Kennedy Center biography. Since the US Army refused to allow integrated audiences, she wound up putting on a show for a mixed audience of black US soldiers and white German POWs. She was at an NAACP rally with Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi the weekend before Evers was assassinated. She also met President John F. Kennedy at the White House two days before he was assassinated. She was at the March on Washington with Martin Luther King.”

After the film, Ms. Horne walked to the podium through thunderous applause and a standing ovation! Talk about humility, she said a few thank yous and sat back down. You could almost hear a unanimous whisper saying how good she looked at 50 years old!

I smiled and thought how fortunate I was to be here at this special occasion and witness  something I’d remember for the rest of my life!


Respectfully, Artie Wayne

Copyright 2010 by Artie Wayne https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/

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  1. Laura Says:

    Hi Artie,

    I was heartbroken to hear of Miss Horne’s passing. She was not only hugely talented but an extremely classy lady as well. She could brighten up the stormiest days. Lena Horne was one of a kind. She will be missed.

  2. Bobbi Cowan Says:

    Artie…Woke up to the dreadful news of Lena Horne’s passing not entirely unexpected as she has been out of the public eye for the last few years. One of the peak experiences of my life was seeing her live, from the 2nd row center, at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, where she was positively thrilling. That night, I felt she joined that tiny pantheon of stars who only need a first name–Frank, Judy, Lena.
    When she closed her show with “Believe in Yourself,” I knew I had seen not just a magnificent performer whose talent, aura and magical presence would live forever, but a life-changing performance. Anyone who missed her in this show should see it on DVD. This was a true legend.
    Bobbi Cowan

  3. Don Charles Says:

    I understand she was disabled and had been quite ill for some time. God mercifully allowed her to pass on into the great beyond. But it’s sad to have lost yet another one of the classy performers. Class is severely lacking in today’s pop music scene (Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert, etcetera). I wonder if it will ever come back?

    • Ann Munday Says:

      Today’s the anniversary of my Dad’s death 18 years ago. And I still miss him so much.
      Hopefully, they’ll meet and he can flirt with her as he did harmlessly with many beautiful woman.
      Lena Horne was an amazing talent and so beautiful.
      My sympathies to her family and many, many friends.

  4. Marva Holiday Says:

    Thanks for this beautiful tribute, Artie.

  5. Andrew C. Jones Says:

    I read once that one of Lena’s numbers in “Cabin In the Sky” was cut from the film because she performed it while taking a bath, and MGM executives didn’t think audiences were ready to see that. (More likely, THEY weren’t.) RIP Lena.

  6. Wedigo Watson Says:

    Thanks for the nice tribute, Artie. She was one classy lady, something you don’t see enough of today.

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