Lena Horne passed away on May 9, 2010. She was 92 years old. I read a news article about her death today. In any case, here is my much-belated post.
In 1973, Horne and Tony Bennett starred in Tony and Lena. She and Bennett subsequently toured the US and UK. Tony wrote about working with Lena in his book Life is a Gift.
Lena was such a class act, a great lady with an incredible work ethic. We sang Harold Arlen songs that had been arranged as duets for us, and later both Cary Grant and Fred Astaire separately told me that the concert with Lena was the best show they’d ever seen in their lives.
During rehearsals, we saw our managers talking in the wings. “I know what they’re saying,” Lena said. “They’re going to tell us to walk offstage in different directions, so it won’t seem as if we’re leaving together.” And sure enough, that’s what they told us to do. We could perform together, but we couldn’t appear to be friends or to be hanging out.
Here’s their medley of Harold Arlen songs, from their appearance on the Judy Garland show.
From the 70’s.
But when MGM made “Show Boat” into a movie for the second time, in 1951, the role of Julie was given to a white actress, Ava Gardner, whose singing voice was dubbed. (Ms. Horne was no longer under contract to MGM at the time, and according to James Gavin’s Horne biography, “Stormy Weather,” published last year, she was never seriously considered for the part.)