Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lynn Redgrave and Lena Horne: 2 Outstanding Originals

Sadly, More Falling Stars...

I was saddened by the news last week that Lynn Redgrave (from the great acting family of Redgraves) had passed away at 67 from what I believe was a battle with breast cancer then today I heard about Lena Horne's passing at age 92.

Lynn Redgrave:
I've always liked and respected Lynn Redgrave as an actress so I was truly saddened when she died. She starred in the poignant coming of age movie Georgy Girl and, as a chunky teen, I could definitely relate. Then she did those memorable Weight Watchers commercials in the 80's and numerous Broadway shows as well as an Emmy nominated TV comedy. She returned to film in the mid-late 90's, starring with Geoffrey Rush in Shine and in God and Monsters, for which she received her second Academy nomination. She also received a Tony Award nomination for Shakespeare For My Father in the 90's.

I lost track of Redgrave's career a bit after that but I would always keep my ears open for a mention of her. I thought of getting her Weight Watchers recipe book that she wrote in 2007 and I smiled when I heard that she had made guest appearances on TV's Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty.

Lynn was often compared to her sister Vanessa, who she starred along side in the TV remake of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane and in the dramatic Three Sisters on stage. Personally, I always felt that Lynn had both the comedic and dramatic chops while Vanessa had solely the dramatic. Either way, it has been a tough year or so for the Redgrave clan, in general, as they've lost brother Corin earlier this year and of course niece, Natasha Richardson, to a head injury last winter after a minor skiing accident. I am praying for the family and I know God will help them through this tough time.

Lena Horne:
As a black woman, I've followed Ms. Horne's entire career my whole life and I can give you a blow-by-blow account of it. It all started when I watched Cabin In The Sky on TV when I was 7 and fell in love with the antics of the irascible Rochester as Little Joe and the amazing voice and screen presence of the beautiful Lena Horne. I then watched Ms. Horne in Stormy Weather, which starred the who's who of black entertainers of the 40's. She also did the musical Jamaica in the 50's for which she received a Tony Award nomination.

In the 70's and 80's, I watched her in The Wiz playing Glinda the Good Witch with Dianna Ross and then on the Cosby show then on A Different World and of course on Sesame Street. Then she was on Broadway in her one woman Tony Award winning show Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music and in numerous singing performances on various TV variety shows. Her jazz, blues, show tunes and contemporary albums were also favorites including her signature song, Stormy Weather. Ms. Horne won two Grammies over her life time, sold out many concerts and had two autobiographies written about her.

Ms. Horne could easily have passed for another race but instead she was a civil rights activist and marched in the 1963 March on Washington with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dorothy Heights, the long time President of the National Council of Negro Women who died last month. The 40's, 50's and 60's was a shameful time for this country and Lena Horne suffered terribly for her convictions that whites, blacks and all Americans should be treated equally.

It is hard to even relate to how difficult it was for black people back then including discrimination in where blacks lived, ate, performed and even in the military. Thankfully, Ms. Horne persevered and broke the color barrier in Hollywood thus paving the way for the likes of Diahann Carroll to Halle Berry and all skin tones in between.

Her voice like her beauty never faded as she aged, if anything, both got deeper and more developed. A few years ago, word got out that they were planning a movie based on Lena Horne's life and every black actress in Hollywood lined up for a chance to play her. The project was eventually shelved but I do hope a movie of her life is eventually made because hers is a life worth chronicling.

2 Outstanding Originals:
What originals these two women were and what amazing performers to watch. I can assure you that there will be none like them for years to come and they will both be missed!

R.I.P. Lynn and Lena.

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