The Waldorf Shuttered, The Empire Room Gone, But Lena Horne? Here Forever!

Or…a night i’ll never forget!

Wonderful memories to me are  gifts that are always there to pull upon when life or times get a little complicated.   And this is one of my favorites.  I try to make kaysnycways timely  but I just  couldn’t find the right time to share this memory until now.  After reading that  the Waldorf Astoria  was going under a  total renovation and would be closed for a few years, I said to myself now is the time and  I finished the draft I had started.     Remembering this night always lifts  my spirits  and in these chaotic times wonderful memories are indeed wonderful!  


Image result for lena horne at the empire room waldorf

We were right at the edge of the dance floor at a  very small cocktail table for two…waiting.  It was the  last night of Lena Horne’s  run at the Empire Room.   We   were in our 20’s and it was our  first time  at such a fancy, elegant New York City supper club.  We were wide-eyed and we were star struck not just for the excitement  of seeing her, but also because we were surrounded by celebrities like Carol Burnett, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh and  the McGuire Sisters.     When  she  came out and started to sing, all we did was look at each other with huge smiles! The evening was a surprise from my boyfriend (and future husband) and what an evening it was.  Her  rendition of “Surrey With the Fringe on Top” turned  a bouncy  melody  into a sensual romp!  As she went from one song to the next, everyone was spell-bound  and  the room would explode with applause, cheers and words of love after each.   She took it all in with her usual  aplomb as she waited till we became silent again before she moved on.  What a night!


Image result for lena horne at the waldorf

The  amazing, beautiful, elegant  Lena Horne never leaves us. We  still hear her voice and see her thru her recordings, movies and TV taped appearances. .  She was a native New Yorker born in Brooklyn (1917-2010) )and used her  voice, her  strength and her intellect  to fight  “against racism in the entertainment industry throughout her career and against racial discrimination in this country throughout her life. “*

Take the time  to watch this documentary from PBS’s American Masters’ Series about Lena  Horne on her struggles and triumphs.

There  is a new  children’s picture  book about her life as a performer and activist  written by Carole Boston Weatherford, *”The Legendary Miss Lena Horne” published in February ( 2017).  I discovered something I didn’t know from this bio,  *Lena learned to  read before kindergarten and  books were her lifelong love.  The cover of the book illustrates the dress she wore when she sang “Stormy Weather”.

Next May there will be a tribute to her at Jazz at Lincoln Center in Michael Feinstein’s Jazz and Popular Song Series.

I don’t want to get too sentimental here, but it occurred  to me that we all, especially as we get older, have wonderful memories that help us get through our crazy lives. Those memories also seem to have a will of their own as they just suddenly decide to pop up, or a song plays and it triggers one, or you’re sitting there with a glass of wine, minding your own business, thinking of family and  friends and there it is that memory that always  makes you laugh out loud.   And all the time those other  wonderful memories just sit there in the back of our minds waiting their turn to be rekindled.  Like my memory of Lena Horne – always there and always fresh.

Love this City and love Lena Horne!       


Important to know: Google Lena Horne and read more about this amazing woman and what she accomplished.

 “The Legendary Miss Lena Horne” – by Carole Boston Weatherford a children’s picture book on the life of Miss Horne both educational and inspiring with beautiful illustrations by  Elizabeth Zunon.

May 2–3, 2018  |  7:00pm & 9:00pm  |  The Appel Room Michael Feinstein continues the Jazz & Popular Song series with a tribute to an American national treasure: “The Enchanting Lena Horne”.

Good to know:  “Lena Horne at the Waldorf” is available on CD or to download with many of the songs she sang that night.

“Surrey With The Fringe on top” by Rodgers and Hammerstein

“Stormy Weather” by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler

“From This Moment On” by Cole Porter

*Unfortunately I couldn’t find the source of this sentence I copied, so my apologies to the writer.

Photos courtesy of

Disclaimer: I try for correct info on my posts, but no guarantees people.




Author: Kay

I knew when I started my blog I wanted to reach out to seniors like myself. I wanted to share my stories and even be a bit of a tour guide on what I’ve learned and the fun I’ve had at famous and not so famous New York places.

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