Media

From the Video Vaults: Lena Horne’s Tree Grows in YouTube

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My YouTube treasure of the day is Lena Horne‘s version of “I’ll Plant my Own Tree,” a wonderfully sick Dory Previn song from the gay camp classic Valley of the Dolls. In the 1967 film, Susan Hayward—as aging stage diva Helen Lawson—sings the number, dodging a revolving mobile as she expresses urgent sentiments like “It’s my yard, so I will try hard to welcome friends I have yet to know.” Well, it may be her yard, but it’s not her voice; Hayward was actually lipsynching to Margaret Whiting. But Lena—seen here on a long-ago Dean Martin Show—is doing her own singing and eyeball flaring as she attacks the song like a pit bull, giving it some real meaning and fire while wending through a scary post-apocalyptic forest. Lena Horne’s tree flourishes, honey—and with no manure thrown on it whatsoever!