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Article

Monitor: Remembering Lena Horne

Plus Bret Michaels, Lawrence Taylor and more celebrities making news the week of May 14, 2010

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EXPECTING
Vera Farmiga, 36, and her musician husband, Renn Hawkey, will reportedly welcome their second child this fall. Their son, Finn, is 15 months old.

BIRTHS
Real Housewives of New York City star Bethenny Frankel, 39, and her husband, businessman Jason Hoppy, welcomed a baby girl, Bryn, May 8 in New York…. Surprise! According to press reports, One Tree Hill star Hilarie Burton, 27, and her boyfriend, Grey’s Anatomy‘s Jeffrey Dean Morgan, 44, had a baby boy earlier this year.

RENEWED
Heidi Klum, 36, and Seal, 47, renewed their vows for the sixth time in Costa Careyes, Mexico, on May 8…. Tori Spelling, 36, and husband Dean McDermott, 43, who wed in 2006, said ”I do” again May 8 in L.A.

MARRIED
Tom Hanks‘ son Colin, 32 — star of Fox’s new action comedy The Good Guys — wed publicist Samantha Bryant May 8 in L.A.

ENGAGED
Bobby Brown, 41, proposed to his manager and girlfriend of nearly three years, Alicia Etheridge, during his concert May 7 in Jacksonville, Fla. The couple have a son, Cassius, 11 months.

UPDATE
On May 4, the L.A. County coroner announced that Corey Haim, 38, who passed away March 10, died of natural causes, not a drug overdose as was widely speculated. Damage to the lungs, pneumonia, and the thickening of heart muscles due to plaque buildup were named as causes of the former teen idol’s death.

RECOVERING
Bret Michaels, 47, who suffered a brain hemorrhage last month, has been released from the Phoenix hospital where he’d been recuperating since April 22. Doctors expect Michaels to make a full recovery…. Barbara Walters, 78, announced on The View May 10 that she will undergo a heart-valve replacement procedure this week and return to the show in September.

COURTS
Alexis Neiers, 18, who appears on E!’s Pretty Wild, pleaded no contest for her role in robbing Orlando Bloom‘s house in July 2009 as part of a burglary ring that targeted celebrities. Neiers was sentenced to 180 days in jail. The reality TV star was also ordered to stay away from Bloom and to pay restitution for the $600,000 in stolen goods. She must begin her sentence by June 24.

ARRESTS
Former Dancing With the Stars contestant and NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, 51, was arrested May 6 in Ramapo, N.Y., and charged with third-degree statutory rape and patronizing a prostitute. Taylor is accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl and paying her $300. Taylor, who denies all charges, was released on $75,000 bail.

DEATHS
Fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta, whose prolific career spanned book covers, movie posters, and comics, died May 10 in Fort Myers, Fla., after suffering a stroke. He was 82. — With additional reporting by Stewart Allen


BIRTHDAYS
Cate Blanchett, 41
May 14

George Lucas, 66
May 14

Pierce Brosnan, 57
May 16

Tina Fey, 40
May 18

Cher, 64
May 20


Remembering Lena Horna
Lena Horne passed away in New York City May 9, a few months shy of her 93rd birthday. (The cause of death was not disclosed.) Raised primarily by her grandparents in Brooklyn, Horne was singing at Harlem’s historic Cotton Club by age 16. In 1942, she became the first African-American movie star with a long-term studio contract. Despite appearing in a handful of well-regarded films like 1943’s Stormy Weather and 1946’s Ziegfeld Follies, racism in the industry limited her to mostly cameos. So the sultry singer turned her focus to the stage (she earned a Tony nomination for her 1957 role in the musical Jamaica, and recordings of her incomparable nightclub act won two Grammys) — all while campaigning tirelessly for civil rights. Alicia Keys, a lifelong fan, sings Horne’s praises to EW:

I’ve always known about Lena Horne. She’s an iconic figure. But it was only three years ago that I really started to understand the depth of her story, from talking to people and reading articles and scripts that were being written at the time. [In 2008, it was rumored that Keys would be playing Horne in a biopic. When asked about that project, Keys demurred.] I just got enraptured with her life and her world. She was able to transcend so much during a time when the options and opportunities for black women were very limited. Marrying a white man [MGM music director Lennie Hayton] in the late ’40s was very controversial. Trying to be a great performer in that racial climate meant dealing with a lot — but she was great. I love listening to Lena Horne, especially on Sundays, rainy Sundays in particular. I listen to songs like ”Don’t Take Your Love From Me,” ”What Is This Thing Called Love?” and of course, of course, of course, ”Stormy Weather.” I was never able to ask her directly, but I’ve read that she was very insecure about her voice. She didn’t feel that she had a beautiful voice. I feel totally differently: She had a very special and unique voice and style and quality. I hear a lot of sadness in her voice. I just love that melancholy tone that she has. The thing that connects people to music is that feeling, that emotion, that pain that lingers — that loss, that desire. You can just feel it in her music.

Lena Horne opened doors for all of us. That’s a major legacy she’s leaving behind. So is her fearlessness: She followed her heart and did what felt right for her. She helped a whole industry observe women — and black women, especially — in a brand-new light.