Wednesday, January 06, 2010

"Stormy Weather"

According to James Gavin's new biography, "Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne," the legendary singer-actress was never comfortable being an icon.

"As I say in the introduction of my book, icons are not allowed to be human beings," explains Gavin, a lifelong fan who interviewed Horne in 1994. "Once you step up on that pedestal . . . and everyone is scrutinizing your every move -- how do you function as a human being? You have to cover up mistakes you made."

And the breathtakingly beautiful Horne, who broke down barriers for African Americans in the 20th century, "had to be all things to all people. She had to constantly think about her image."

While she was in Hollywood, the NAACP schooled her in "perfect public deportment at all times," Gavin says.

"When you are remembering your image -- how can you live your life? You have to sacrifice a lot of freedom. This was a very hard way for her to live."

Constant rejection from her parents as a child, Gavin says, also made Horne "hyper-sensitive to things like rejection. Every perceived or real slight, she recoiled from it in a violent way. This does not make for a happy lady. She was angry." As for the 92-year-old Horne, Gavin says, "she has long been reclusive and completely closed the doors on interviews and public appearances. Sad is not a word that people want to associate with Lena Horne, but unfortunately, she paid an enormous price for her victories."

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