TCM to air rarely seen films, favorites in tribute to Lena Horne


Atlanta’s Turner Classic Movies will preempt its previously scheduled programming Friday night to honor actress and singer Lena Horne, who died this month at age 92.

What many fans of the performer don’t know is that Horne was a former Macon resident who credits the Georgia city for giving her a start in the music business.

In 1991, Horne was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

“There was never anyone quite like Lena Horne as an entertainer, a presence or a trailblazer, ” explains TCM host Robert Osborne, who wrote and filmed the brand-new Horne introductions for the tribute.

“We’ve been shortchanged only by the limited number of worthwhile roles she was given to play in movies. But she certainly gave us 100 percent of her remarkable talent in those she did make. We’re also proud at Turner Classic Movies that she was one of our loyal viewers.”

The schedule for TCM’s Horne tribute on May 21 begins with the rarely seen 1938 musical “The Duke is Tops,” a nightclub romp with an all African-American cast (a rarity for Hollywood at the time) that served as Horne’s big screen debut (she claimed to never have been paid for the role).

At 9:30 p.m., TCM will air director Vincente Minnelli’s 1943 musical “Cabin in the Sky,” co-starring Ethel Waters and Eddie Anderson. Horne cited the film as one of her favorites.

At 11:15 p.m., TCM will screen 1942’s “Panama Hattie,” based on the hit Cole Porter Broadway musical with Horne playing herself as a nightclub singer singing Porter classics, including “Just One of Those Things.” Horne later explained to interviewers that her scenes in such films would later often be trimmed out when the musicals played down South.

The tribute concludes at 12:45 a.m. with 1943’s “The Fallen Sparrow” co-starring John Garfield and Maureen O’Hara in the story of a former Spanish Civil War prisoner “searching for the truth about the death of a friend.”

Horne, a tremendous fan of Garfield’s, also cited this as a particular favorite.

For more details on the line-up, go to TCM’s official website.