We know that talent tends to run in families, but screenwriter Jenny Lumet’s family is pretty extraordinary, even by Hollywood standards. Her father was legendary director, screenwriter and producer Sidney Lumet, who gave us such incredible films as Dog Day Afternoon, Network and my personal all-time fave, The Wiz.
Of course, one of The Wiz’s most famous scenes featured Jenny Lumet’s grandmother, the stunning screen legend Lena Horne, as Glinda the Good Witch. As she floated in a starry sky, surrounded by black baby angels, Horne sang an unforgettably passionate rendition of “If You Believe” ... and we did.
Lena Horne was best known as a performer and pioneering member of black Hollywood, but the Horne-Lumet clan wasn’t a Hollywood family; they were New Yorkers, through and through. The Brooklyn-born Horne broke barriers as an actress, singer, dancer and staunch civil rights activist. According to her granddaughter, Horne had a wit and ferocity of spirit equal to her incredible talent.
In January, the inimitable Lena Horne was honored with her very own postage stamp, making hers the 41st stamp in the Black Heritage stamp series, and Horne only the 14th woman to receive the honor. The stamp’s portrait was inspired by the icon as she appeared in the 1980s, which was around the time my mother took a 6-year-old me to see her powerhouse one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music. I was in absolute awe.
Several decades later, I have the pleasure of calling Ms. Horne’s tremendously talented and brave granddaughter Jenny Lumet a friend, and of sitting down with her on behalf of The Glow Up to discuss the legacy of her grandmother, the legendary, luminous Lena Horne.