American Masters: Season 11, Episode 1

Lena Horne: In Her Own Voice (25 Nov. 1996)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | Biography | History
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Gail Lumet Buckley ...
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25 November 1996 (USA)  »

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"Lena Horne: In Her Own Words" was a fine tribute to her on "American Masters"
17 May 2010 | by (Baton Rouge, La.) – See all my reviews

Last Sunday, a week after Lena Horne died at 92, PBS rebroadcast her profile on "American Masters" from 1996. With a dedication in memory to her printed at the beginning, we see and hear in her own voice the trials and tribulations of growing up in Brooklyn, New York, before finding jobs singing and dancing at the Cotton Club in Harlem. Of course, we also see her in film clips of her various musical performances in many M-G-M films of which those singing spots were the only time we see her in those movies since they were put in such a way that they could be cut-without harming the plot-for mainly Southern theatres that didn't want someone of color-unless in domestic roles-on screen with white folks. Exceptions of that were in a couple of all-black pictures like Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather of which the title song became Ms. Horne's signature song. We also see later television appearances of hers on "Your Show of Shows", "The Perry Como Show", "The Frank Sinatra Show", and "The Judy Garland Show". She also touches on her friendship with arranger Billy Strayhorn and marriage to M-G-M conductor Lennie Hayton who-because of his skin color-agreed with Lena to keep the nuptials secret for several years. Then there was Ms. Horne's involvement in the civil rights movement including her shouting "Freedom!" during Martin Luther King's March in Washington and her concert for Medgar Evers just before his assassination. As we get to her one-woman show, "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music", we see how artistically mature she became as we watch one more performance of "Stormy Weather" done in a more heartbreaking style that truly gives one shivers. What a fine performance to end this documentary on just before the credits. But there's at least one more during those...Wonderful use of clips and stills throughout. Also, some good interviews including that of Ossic Davis, Alan King, and her daughter, Gail Lumet Buckley who wrote a book on her family tree called "The Hornes" that I highly recommend. All I feel like saying right now is this: May Ms. Horne's legacy continue to endure forever...


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