Lena Horne

  1. Dooley Wilson, Casablanca, 1942.
  2. Ingrid Bergman, Saratoga Trunk, 1943.    MGM refused  Jack Warner’s  brave  plan  to borrow Horne to play Gary Cooper’s Creole lover as per the Edna Ferber tale.  Black stars like Horne were never offered above-the-title roles, much less as a white man’s lover in those dark days.  (Held up for release,  by propaganda movies, until 1946). 
  3. Jeanne Crain, Pinky, 1948.    The year is important… Almost makes what follows undestandable. Cid Ricketts Sumner’s book was about a black nurse passing for white and falling for a white doctor. Perfect for Dandridge who auditioned or Lena Horne who pushed hard for the rôle. No, no, said the Fox suits, the great US public would not stand (or pay) for inter-racial love scenes. So they chosde a white actress passing for a black nurse passing for white. Stupido!
  4. Ava Gardner, Show Boat, 1950.     Ditto…   For Ava, the world’s three mostbeautiful women were:Garbo, Hepburn, Horne.MGM planned the musical for the singer once banned from the main commissary for being black – and had all her scenes shot so they could be excised dahn South. Lena could; guest star (in musicals) but never star in anything! She had “tested,” after all, by playing/singing Julie in her spot in Metro’s Jerome Kern biopic, Till The Clouds Roll By, 1946, -“Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man” (her “Bill” was cut). Chickening out, MGM started spinningthat the show had been bought for Judy Garland… or Dinah Shore… or even Ava as the half-caste Julie. Due to be dubbed by… Lena! Finally, the dubber was Annette Warren but it’s Ava on the soundtrack album, “copying Lena’s phrasing,” on“Bill” and “… Lovin’ That Man.” 
  5. Ruby Dee, The Tall Target, 1951.      Director Joseph Losey(beforehis self-exile to Europe) chose her for his version, The Man on the Train (Abraham Lincoln was both man and target).Losey also tried to star Lena in Le Chemin de Traversethe same year and opposite Hardy Kruger in a 60s African project, The Rapids.
  6. Dorothy Dandridge, Porgy and Bess, 1958. Columbia’s hated  czar, Harry Cohn, wanted – incredibly –  to do it in black-face.  With Fred  Astaire as  Sportin’  Life opposite Al Jolson’s Porgy and Rita Hayworth’s Bess!  Said the Gershwin brothers:  “Get outa here!”  Columbia gave up and sold its rights to Fox which, correctly,  wanted Lena Horne and then sold it all to be Samuel Goldwyn’s final production… with Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge and Sammy Davis Jr. .  Perfect!


 Birth year: 1917Death year: 2010Other name: Casting Calls:  5