Monsanto Night Presents Lena Horne


About Monsanto Night Presents Lena Horne

(1969, NBC)

History was made on the night of September 10, 1969 when actress and singer Lena Horne became one of the first African-American women to headline her own primetime network TV variety special.

“I don’t know why they call it a ‘special,’” Horne joked. “I guess it sounds better than calling it a very short series.”

The then-52-year-old, who began her career in the chorus line at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club, makes a charmingly elegant emcee. She welcomes soul singer O.C. Smith, who sings "Friend, Lover, Woman, Wife” and joins Horne for a duet of “Didn’t We.”  Lena also duets with The Fugitive star David Janssen on a comedic rendition of “I Remember It Well” and dances a funky number with Claude Thompson’s dance troupe. She also sings a medley of current pop hits, staged as if it were a rehearsal. (Horne reminds us that it’s not, in one of the show’s many “meta” moments.)

But the highpoint of the program is a soulful rendition of “Stormy Weather,” a song Horne made famous in the groundbreaking 1943 musical of the same name. Monsanto Night Presents Lena Horne gives us just a taste of what made the singer, dancer, actress and activist the legendary figure she remains today.

Notable guest stars: David Janssen, O.C. Smith, The Claude Thompson Dancers   

Produced by Bob Henry and Ralph Harris  


Lena Horne, Lennie Hayton