Lena Horne - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The American Treasure Tour blog could easily spend months talking about all of the actors and actresses whose head shots are on display in our Music Room.  Today, we would like to discuss a special and extremely talented artist named Lena Horne.  Hopefully her name is familiar to all of you but, in case it is not, she was born in 1917, and passed away in 2010.  Her accomplishments are pretty exceptional.

Born into an affluent family, Horne's ancestry included European, American Indian, and African descendants.  In the United States, that means she was regarded as African American, which was tragically regarded as a social stigma for her.  Her talent, convictions and physical beauty all helped her attain exceptional heights in her career.  Starting in her late-teens as a member of a chorus line at Harlem's Cotton Club, Horne soon became an actor and, in 1942, the first African-American actor to be offered a long-term contract with a major film studio - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  She made movies through the 1950s, but became disillusioned with the system and returned to the stage.  She sang and danced, while also becoming very active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, even attending the March on Washington in 1963.  Horne's Broadway and singing careers led to her winning numerous awards, and she has been missed since her passing five years ago.
QUESTION:  In 1951, Lena Horne was hopeful to be cast in the film Showboat.  Who did she lose out to?
A)  Rita Hayworth
B)  Ava Gardner
C)  Judy Garland
D)  Victor Mature

LET THE RACE BEGIN.  Any lover of fast cars has heard of the Indianapolis Speedway, known also as the Brickyard.  It may seem like the Speedway has been around forever but, in fact, the first automobile race to ever occur there was on this day in 1909.  Fifteen different car makers brought their finest vehicles to the track to race it out.  One of the favorite drivers of the day, Louis Chevrolet, was temporarily blinded by flying debris from the track and, in fact, there were enough problems with the quality of the road surface that few racers reached the finish line and the AAA considered cancelling the next day's races for safety purposes.  Instead, the roads were repaired and speed records were broken left and right.

FLYING HIGH!  You may never have heard of Archie League, but today is his birthday.  Born in 1907, he got caught up in an obsession with airplanes early in his life, barnstorming and showboating wherever he could, before he was hired on by an airfield in St. Louis to become the nation's first air traffic controller.  Using racing flags in the early days to communicate to pilots on the runway, League moved up in the world to become the director of the FAA's Air Traffic Service for a number of years.  A little-known but essential person!

QUOTE:  Always be smarter than the people who hire you. - Lena Horne

ANSWER:  B)  Ava Gardner.