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The Late Lena Horne Hated The Moniker “Chocolate Chanteuse”!

I was going to get around to doing a post about the great Lena Horne at some point. It’s too bad that I’m writing it under these very,sad circumstances.If you have not already heard,Lena Horne has died at the age of 92. One of the most beautiful women to ever grace the earth has left it behind. Although she is gone physically,the mark that Lena Horne made on the world will grant her some measure of immortality.

For this was a woman who truly made a difference. She changed people’s perspectives regarding the types of roles that were suitable for black women to play. In the 1940’s, Hollywood was still portraying African-Americans as the homely-looking hired help. With Lena Horne, Hollywood began to realize that black women were comely women too. She broadened the roles for actresses of African descent.

And she didn’t just stop there. Lena Horne also was an avid civil rights activist. She took part in demonstrations & even helped Eleanor Roosevelt pass an anti-lynching law. This was no shrinking violet. Ms. Horne wasn’t afraid to wear her political beliefs on her sleeve. That’s why she was briefly blacklisted during the communist witch hunt which is better known as “the McCarthy era.”

Yes,Lena Horne was truly a womanly force. That’s probably why she disliked the moniker “chocolate chanteuse.” Because it really isn’t a accurate description of her at all. She was much,much more than a nightclub songstress.

Here’s more from The Washington Post:

“In Hollywood, she received previously unheard-of star treatment for a black actor. Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios featured Ms. Horne in movies and advertisements as glamorously as white beauties including Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable.

The media sometimes described Ms. Horne in terms that upset her.

I hated those awful phrases they used to trot out to describe me!” she once said. “Who the hell wants to be a ‘chocolate chanteuse’ ?”

Ms. Horne was also frustrated by infrequent movie work and feeling limited in her development as an actress. She confronted studio officials about roles she thought demeaning, a decision that eventually hurt her.

James Gavin, a historian of cabaret acts who has written a biography of Ms. Horne, said: “Given the horrible restrictions of the time, MGM bent over backward to do everything they could. After MGM, she was an international star, and that made her later career possible, made her a superstar.”

Ms. Horne appeared on television and at major concerts halls in New York, London and Paris. She starred on Broadway twice, and her 1981 revue, “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music,” set the standard for the one-person musical show, reviewers said. The performance also netted her a special Tony Award and two Grammy Awards.

Gavin said Ms. Horne cultivated a “ferocious” singing personality through her flashing eyes and teeth.

“Unlike Perry Como and Bing Crosby, who were warm, familiar presences, Lena Horne was a fierce black woman and not a warm and fuzzy presence,” Gavin said. “She was formidable and the first black cabaret star for white society.”

Ms. Horne said she felt a need to act aloof onstage to protect herself from unwanted advances early in her career, especially from white audiences.

“They were too busy seeing their own preconceived image of a Negro woman,” she told the New York Daily News in 1997. “The image that I chose to give them was of a woman who they could not reach. . . . I am too proud to let them think they can have any personal contact with me. They get the singer, but they are not going to get the woman.” (End of Excerpt) Read the article in its entirety here.

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Rita Hayworth:The Love Goddess!

Rita Hayworth is known as one of America’s greatest stars.Of Spanish-Irish & English descent,Rita Hayworth was a flamenco dancer & one of the biggest musical stars of the 1940’s! Not only that,she also was one of the most requested wartime pinup girls!Even though she was known for her beautiful red hair,she was actually a natural brunette! And this shy beauty was once married to a prince,like Grace Kelly!Here’s more on the American “love goddess” from Wikipedia:

“Rita Hayworth (October 17, 1918 – May 14, 1987), was an American actress who attained fame during the 1940s not only as one of the era’s top musical stars, but also as the era’s defining sex symbol, most notably in the 1946 film Gilda. She is listed as one of American Film Institute’s (AFI) Greatest Stars of All Time.

Margarita Carmen Cansino, better known as Rita Hayworth, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Spanish flamenco dancer Eduardo Cansino (Sr.) and English/Irish-American Ziegfeld girl Volga Hayworth.Hayworth was on stage by the age of six as a member of The Cansinos, a famous family of Spanish dancers working in vaudeville. Also, her father had performed in a dancing duo with his sister, and later revived the duo with his daughter Rita as his dancing partner, performing in nightclubs in California and the Foreign Club in Tijuana, Mexico. At age sixteen, she attracted the attention of film producers as part of “The Dancing Cansinos” and was signed by Fox Studios in 1935.

After her option was not renewed by Fox, Rita Cansino freelanced at minor film studios before signing with Columbia Pictures in 1937.In 1937, Margarita Carmen Cansino became Rita Hayworth. After two more years of minor roles, she gave an impressive performance in Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings (1939), as part of an ensemble cast headed by Cary Grant. Her sensitive portrayal of a disillusioned wife sparked the interest of other studios. Between assignments at Columbia Pictures, she was borrowed by Metro Goldwyn Mayer for George Cukor’s Susan and God (1940) with Joan Crawford and Warner Brothers for Raoul Walsh’s The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney.

While on loan to Fox Studios for Rouben Mamoulian’s Blood and Sand (1941) starring Tyrone Power, Hayworth achieved stardom with her sizzling performance as the amoral and seductive Doña Sol des Muire. This Technicolor film forever branded her as one of Hollywood’s most beautiful redheads. Gene Tierney was originally intended for the role but was dropped by Darryl F. Zanuck when she eloped with Oleg Cassini. Carole Landis was the next choice for the role, but refused to dye her blonde hair red and was replaced by Rita Hayworth prior to filming. Fox then borrowed Hayworth from Columbia and dyed her dark brown hair auburn which soon became her best remembered feature. Her stardom was solidified when she made the cover of Time Magazine as Fred Astaire’s new dancing partner in You’ll Never Get Rich (1941).

Rita left her film career in 1948 to marry Prince Aly Khan, the son of the Aga Khan, the leader of the Ismaili sect of Shia Islam. Initially Hayworth and Prince Aly had trysts at the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans. The couple moved to Europe, causing a media frenzy. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, in writing and directing 1954’s The Barefoot Contessa, was said to have based his title character, Maria Vargas (played on film by Ava Gardner), on Hayworth’s life and her marriage to Aly Khan.After the marriage collapsed in 1951, Hayworth returned to America with great fanfare to film a string of hit films.”(End of Excerpt) Read the rest here.

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Salma Hayek:La Chica Bonita!!!

Salma Hayek is the stuff of dreams! She is the Rita Hayworth of our times. A undeniably beautiful,sexy,& classy femme fatale! I’m sure she has left a lot of broken hearts in her path. But,not anymore! She has captured the heart of the French billionaire who fathered her baby girl. Here’s more from Vogue:

“ONE of fashion’s most famous on-off relationships took a happy turn on St Valentine’s Day when actress Salma Hayek married her fashion mogul beau, Francois-Henri Pinault. What started as a rumour this weekend became official this morning as the French magazine owned by the Pinault family, Le Point, announced the nuptials.

The report confirms Hayek and Pinault were married on Saturday, in the City Hall of the Sixth Arrondissement, in central Paris. The Mayor of the borough, Jean-Pierre Lecoq, subsequently confirmed the report to French news agency Agence France-Presse.

The couple initially confirmed their engagement in March 2007 when the Mexican actress-producer also confirmed she was expecting her first child. Their daughter, Valentina Paloma Pinault, arrived in September 2007 – but in July 2008 they announced the engagement was off.

US magazine People reported that recent trips Hayek made to Paris, towards the end of last year may have revived the relationship – and that public displays of affection at the Dubai Film Festival fuelled rumours that the marriage could be back on.”(End of Excerpt) Read the rest here.

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Ricardo Montalban: The Muy Caliente Mexican-Born Actor Will No Longer Grace The Earth With His Prescence

Ricardo Montalban will no longer grace this earth with his prescence.Most of us only know him as “Mr. Roarke” from “Fantasy Island“. But, Ricardo Montalban already had a long, illustrious career before that show.This stunningly good-looking Mexican-bred actor was already a budding star in his homeland. That’s why he was glad that they didn’t change his name to Ricky Martin. But, one of the main reasons he was glad to be known as Ricardo Montalban is because he was proud of his Mexican heritage.This may be why he did his best to make the Hollywood fantasy translate into an actuality for Latinos,although many say it was to his own detriment. He even created the nonprofit Nosotros Foundation to help Latinos find more employment in Hollwood. Here’s more from the Guardian:

“Ricardo Montalban died on Wednesday at age 88, and we got the news from a local politician who made the announcement at a Los Angeles city council meeting. To those who only knew the Mexican-born actor as the mysterious Mr Roarke of TV’s Fantasy Island or may only remember his purring praise for “soft Corinthian leather” in those old Chrysler commercials, it was just as well.

But to those who recognise that the Emmy-winning icon was a talented but underused actor who persevered through decades of Hollywood bigotry and typecasting with elegance and grace, a trailblazer who jeopardised his own career by advocating for younger generations of Latino actors, it was a meagre send-off. What we’ve lost, simply put, is one of the last remaining Hispanics who first busted through Hollywood’s doors and then struggled not to pay for their audacity with their dignity and cultural identity. “My career has been the constancy of doing the best I could with the role I had,” Montalban once said. “I persevered. That’s the only quality that I recognise in myself.”

Already a Latin American star when he hit Hollywood in the mid 1940s, Montalban could act, dance and sing and showed it off in his first American film, the Mexico-set musical Fiesta. Montalban, born in Mexico of Spanish parents, had style and phenomenal presence. Hollywood, however, was a topsy-turvy world where Latinos – particularly Mexicans – were often portrayed onscreen as “bandits, gigolos, hot señoritas and indolent peons,” as Montalban once put it. Lead Latino characters, such as they were, were often played by white actors. Latino actors were mostly relegated to playing stereotypical ethnic bit roles – everything from filthy Mexican peasants to Japanese soldiers – even if they had the chops to do more. It’s as if they were paying a never-ending string of dues for a reward that rarely came.

Hispanics who succeeded in old Hollywood did so by either passing as Anglos, as in the case of Rita Hayworth – a flamenco-dancer-turned-actress who became a leading lady only after dying her dark hair red and dropping her Spanish father’s last name of Cansino – or by sheer will and the willingness to risk obscurity, as in the case of Puerto Rican actress Rita Moreno. By the time Moreno won a best supporting actress Oscar in 1962 for West Side Story, the actress had endured several demeaning Latin sex-pot roles and, she once told me in an interview, the scorn of racist directors who ignored her on set. After her win, Moreno refused to make a film for seven years. Despite the award, she continued to be offered infuriatingly one-dimensional roles.”(End of Excerpt) Read the rest here:(http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/jan/16/ricardo-motalban-hollywood-latinos

Here are a few other links to articles about Ricardo Montalban:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricardo_Montalban

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-me-montalban15-2009jan15,0,3732229.story

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