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This Day in WWII 26 January 1941 - 1945


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boeingadjan1943.jpg Boeing Ad - January 1943

1941: The Italians evacuate Mechili during the night.

1942: American Expeditionary Force lands in Northern Ireland.

lenahorne1.jpg *Lena Horne

1942: The US-Filipino withdrawal to the Bagac-Orion line is successfully completed. The Japanese quickly followed up the withdrawal and made several penetration in to the defensive new line, although these were all contained and thrown back.

1943: The Stalingrad pocket is split in two. Voronezh is captured.

lenahorne.jpg Lena Horne

1943: The Eighth Army takes Zaula in Libya, less than 100 miles from Tunisian frontier.

1943: The first OSS (Office of Strategic Services) agent parachutes behind Japanese lines in Burma.

lenahorne2.jpg Lena Horne

1944: The British launch their main attack on the Japanese ‘Golden Fortress’ in the Arakan, Burma.

1945: Himmler is put in command of Army Group Vistula by Hitler. The Russians isolate three German armies in East Prussia. The Red Army captures Kattowitz in Upper Silesia. Auschwitz concentration camp is captured by the Russians, but they find fewer than 3,000 survivors as the SS has moved most of the remaining prisoners to camps inside Germany.

lenahorne1.jpg Lena Horne

*Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born June 30, 1917, in Brooklyn, New York. In her biography she stated that on the day she was born, her father was in the midst of a card game trying to get money to pay the hospital costs. Her parents divorced while she was still a toddler. Her mother left later in order to find work as an actress and Lena was left in the care of her grandparents. When she was seven her mother returned and the two traveled around the state, which meant that Lena was enrolled in numerous schools (for a time she also attended schools in Florida, Georgia and Ohio). Later she returned to Brooklyn. She quit school when she was 14 and got her first stage job at 16, dancing and later singing at the famed Cotton Club in Harlem (a renowned theater in which black performers played before white audiences. It was immortalized in "The Cotton Club" (1984)). She was in good hands at the club, especially when people such as Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington took her under their wings and helped her over the rough spots. Before long her talent resulted in her playing before packed houses. If she had never made a movie, her music career would have been enough to have ensured her legendary status in the entertainment industry, but films were icing on the cake. After she made an appearances on Broadway, Hollywood came calling. At 21 years of age Lena made her first film, "The Duke Is Tops" (1938). It would be four more years before she appeared in another, "Panama Hattie" (1942), playing a singer in a nightclub. By now Lena had signed with MGM but, unfortunately for her, the pictures were shot so that her scenes could be cut out when they were shown in the South, since most theaters in the South refused to show films that portrayed blacks in anything other than subservient roles to whites, and most movie studios did not want to take a chance on losing that particular source of revenue. Lena did not want to appear in those kinds of stereotyped roles (and who could blame her?). In 1943 MGM loaned her to 20th Century-Fox to play the role of Selina Rogers in the all-black musical "Stormy Weather" (1943), which did extremely well at the box-office. Her rendition of the title song became a major hit on the musical charts. In 1943 she appeared in "Cabin in the Sky" (1943), regarded by many as one of the finest performances of her career. She played Georgia Brown opposite Ethel Waters and Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson in the all-black production. Rumors were rampant that she and Waters just did not get along well, although there was never any mention of the source of the alleged friction. That was not the only feud on that picture, however. Other cast members sniped at one another and it was a wonder the film was made at all. Regardless of the hostilities, the movie was released to very good reviews from the ever tough critics. It went a long way in showing the depth of the talent that existed among black performers in Hollywood, especially Lena. Lena's musical career flourished, but her movie career stagnated. Minor roles in films such as "Boogie-Woogie Dream" (1944), "Words and Music" (1948) and "Mantan Messes Up" (1946) did little to advance her film career, due mainly to the ingrained racist attitudes of the time (even at the height of Lena's musical career, she was often denied rooms at the very hotels in which she performed, because they would not let blacks stay there). After "Meet Me in Las Vegas" (1956), Lena left films to concentrate on music and the stage. She returned in 1969, as Claire Quintana in "Death of a Gunfighter" (1969). Nine years later she returned to the screen again in the all-black musical "The Wiz" (1978), where she played Glinda the Good Witch. Although that was her last big-screen appearance, she stayed busy in television, appearing in "A Century of Women" (1994) and "That's Entertainment! III" (1994).

Had it not been for the prevailing racial attitudes during the time when Lena was just starting her career, it's fair to say that it would have been much bigger, and come much sooner, than it was. Even taking those factors into account, Lena Horne is still one of the most respected, talented and beautiful performers of all time.

Lena Horne died on Mothers Day, May 9, 2010 (aged 92), in New York City of heart failure. Horne's funeral took place at St. Ignatius Loyola Church on Park Avenue in New York City. Thousands gathered to mourn her, including singers Leontyne Price, Dionne Warwick, Jessye Norman, Chita Rivera and actresses Cicely Tyson, Diahann Carroll, Leslie Uggams, Lauren Bacall, Audra McDonald and Vanessa L. Williams. Lena Horne was cremated and her ashes are in the possession of family.

TRIVIA:

Spouse:

Lennie Hayton (14 December 1947 - 24 April 1971) (his death)

Louis Jordan Jones (13 January 1937 - 15 June 1944) (divorced) 2 children

Lost her father, husband and son in one year.

She was branded a "Communist sympathizer" by many right-wing conservatives because of her association with Paul Robeson and her progressive political beliefs (which led her to be blacklisted in the 1950s).

In Charles Whiting's book "The Long March On Rome", he reports that she refused to appear before racially segregated US Army audiences in WW2 Italy--since the army was officially segregated, the policy was to have one show solely for white troops and another show solely for black troops. Horne insisted on performing for mixed audiences, and 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.

1024.jpg?md=1327572240000 Pullman Ad - January 1943

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