Song:Love Me Or Leave Me
Lena Horne should have been a big movie star in the 40s. But due to racism and a jittery MGM Pictures, she never really got her due until the 80s. Her signature song was Stormy Weather from the 1943 film which I featured a few years ago. But a lot of fans may not know that she had a top 20 pop hit with this 1955 recording of Love Me Or Leave Me. It looks like it was her only hit single from that era. Lena should have been a movie star when she was at MGM in the 40s. But other than Cabin In The Sky and the 20th Century Fox film Stormy Weather, I think most fans would be hard pressed to know what films she appeared in. MGM was concerned that audiences would not accept a black movie star. And then Lena didn't help herself by marrying MGM musical director Lennie Hayton in 1947. They kept the marriage a secret for two years because they knew mixed marriages weren't acceptable at the time. The last straw was when Lena wanted to play Julie in MGM's 1951 film musical Show Boat. But the film industry production code didn't allow interracial relationships and MGM cast Ava Gardner who couldn't sing. And then MGM asked Ava to study Lena's singing to prepare for the role. Lena left MGM and decided to concentrate on her nightclub show. Hayton was her musical director. She performed live all over the world at places like the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Lena signed with RCA Records in 1952. They released a 10"LP in 1952 and then released Love Me Or Leave Me as a single in 1955. It reached #19 on the Billboard Disk Jockey chart. Love Me Or Leave Me was written by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson for the 1928 show Whoopee! and it became Ruth Etting's signature song. Doris Day played Etting in the 1955 biopic Love Me Or Leave Me and the film was a big hit. Sammy Davis Jr. and Lena Horne both charted with recordings of Love Me Or Leave Me. It helped Lena become a best selling recording artist at RCA. Love Me Or Leave Me was never released on an album but you can get it on this budget comp. She appeared on stage and on TV regularly for many years. And she finally got her due when she won Grammys for the cast recording of her 1981 one woman show Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music. She recorded for Blue Note in the 90s. Lena Horne died on May 9, 2010 at age 92. Here's Lena Horne performing Love Me Or Leave Me and The Eagle and Me 1965.