The Grandchildren of Lena Horne

I’ve been noticing that some of you have been rooting around for information on Lena Horne‘s grandchildren. Well, I aims to please.

Horne’s son Edwin Fletcher “Teddy” Jones, from her first marriage with Pittsburgh politician (and gambler) Louis Jordan Jones, died at 29 from kidney failure in 1970. There was a tug of war between his parents for the child. At the outset, the boy was raised by his father, which meant that his relationship with his mother was difficult. Jones played off his son against his mother. According to the biography, Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne by James Gavin, published in 2009, Teddy Jones produced four children who are not as well known: Thomas and William Jones–twins–and Samadhi and Lena Jones. After their father’s unexpected early death, the children were abandoned by their mother, and were later taken advantage of by a guardian cum con artist who merely wanted to milk as much money from her relationship with Horne as possible. No doubt, all this tumult and instability took a toll on the little Joneses. It was a struggle for coherency and direction for each of them.

Thomas Jones, Lena Horne’s grandson, in his role as a chef instructor today (Courtesy: French Culinary Institute)

As the biography relates, Samadhi Jones was not always recognized as part of the family by her grandmother, believing the girl was not her son’s daughter. Even when they were children, the twins made a point of sending presents back to Lena Horne when it was clear that Samadhi was not included. Even now, obituaries report that Lena Horne had five, not six grandchildren. Nevertheless, Horne secretly sent the girl to quality boarding schools to be educated. Now, Samadhi is a mother herself and lives a productive life in Florida. Lena Jones, after escaping the situation with the con artist when she was 16, and entering a period of trying to find herself, has graduated from college. In the words of a family friend, Lena is said to be “thriving.”

Of the twins, Thomas Jones joined the Marines and upon discharge, entered and eventually graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York. He joined the faculty as a pastry chef-instructor there in 2003. From the description in the online catalogue:

Before becoming a pastry chef, Thomas Jones served in the military for 14 years—by his estimation, an “oddly suitable background for working in the culinary world.” After trading in his camouflage for chef whites, Jones landed premium positions at New York’s Lutece, Daniel and, ultimately, the exclusive Sony Club, as Pastry Chef. His advice to students is always the same: don’t give up and never stop learning. Jones himself makes a point to cook—and live—with continued curiosity; whether teaching in the kitchen, devouring new books on history and science, or volunteering in his community, he dedicates himself completely…

Good for him. Although I don’t like the military, it’s the poor man’s version of getting on the straight path. Being in the military gave the young man a sense of purpose, and reinforced positive attributes within him. He belonged. And now he’s contributing.

It’s also interesting that both he and Samadhi are working with the community in some way. Samadhi works with youth; Thomas is a volunteer. You could say that they are striving, helping to bring people back or bringing them forward. They may be more inclined to call themselves black, too.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for Thomas’ twin. William Jones is another story altogether. The spitting image of his late father, William is described as aimless and emotionally needy. He lived with his grandfather, Louis Jordan Jones, until he died in 1998, and William seemed inconsolable upon this loss. Horne paid for the funeral and burial, but she and Gail did not attend. There is little else that I have been able to find out about William so far. All of these children are grown, and are between their early to mid-forties.

About Gail Lumet Buckley‘s children, I’m presenting photos and a little bit about each of them. It may not be too pretty for some of you. Lena Horne was perturbed at times about her granddaughters’ lack of strive. They were totally assimilated, given the best on a platter, and they wish to god that you wouldn’t bring up race. Both Lumet daughters have inherited the high cheekbones of their grandmother, and they don’t look black or white but Latino or Native American.

Wingnut Amy Lumet in 2005, when she saw her lefty dad receive a Lifetime Achievement Oscar from the Academy. Yup, way too much information overflow (Courtesy: Odd Universe)

Amy Lumet, born in 1964 in London, UK, is the eldest daughter of Gail Lumet Buckley, the journalist and memoirist, and Sidney Lumet, the film director. (Amy and Jenny are apparently Sidney’s only children.) Amy is known as a New York-Washington-L.A. socialite and party hostess, and a rabid Republican who once wrote an essay for the National Review. (She’d be a great dough-headed ditz on-air talent for Fox News. Or for CNN.) Seems as if she could give Rachel Uchitel a run for her money.

Lumet was married to conservative satirist P.J. O’Rourke for three years. Since their divorce, she has been engaged married to one of the late liberal actor Gregory Peck’s sons, Tony. Interestingly, it was revealed during the presidential campaign that Lumet had had an affair with, of all people, Arizona Senator John McCain, when she was his aide and while she was still married to O’Rourke in the early Nineties.

This “eruption” was stomped–not patted–back into the ground during the last days of the campaign, but it was widely believed to have been true. (It’s been alleged that Cindy McCain was having a bit of a fling herself, probably in retaliation, by none other than the National Enquirer, complete with photos.) While O’Rourke claimed in one story that he admired McCain greatly, the affair is also said to have signaled the end of the marriage. No sympathy for O’Rourke, though. I think he’s an unmitigated toad.

I still don’t think Amy’s covered as much territory as her grandmother…and I think that the conquests probably possessed more class and better taste, too.

Amy Lumet showing what’s she’s got. Whatever that is (Courtesy: Odd Universe)

Amy got a boob job a few years ago because she proclaimed that she wanted to model for Playboy. I don’t think that has happened yet, but she’s stuck with the jugs. At the 2005 Oscars, when she was 41, she is said to have stolen the attention from her sister Jenny, who some believe has the real, inherited talent in the family, with those inflated breastesses. (This was three years before Rachel Got Married got off the ground, but these occasions are always opportunities to talk shop and represent after the cameras go home.) Besides, Amy’s now too old for that mess. There are some things that can’t be airbrushed or Vaselined on the lenses. But some people will insist on foolishness. Her occupation? Sound editor. She has no children.

Jenny Lumet on the red carpet at the 2009 IFC Spirit Awards. Yes, those are real, and frankly, I prefer it that way (Courtesy: Zimbio)

Jenny Lumet was born in 1967 in New York City, and is the second Lumet daughter.

[...]Jenny caught the acting and show business bug at an early age. She actually got her start acting in her father’s film Deathtrap in 1982 at the age of 15. She made two more movies with her father, Running on Empty and Q&A. Other films that Lumet has appeared in include Tougher Than Leather, Assassination and Dodgeball.

Particularly with Q & A in 1991, Lumet received noteworthy reviews, but the film tanked. Though she continued to audition, she couldn’t get another role. Two years ago, Jenny tried another tack and made a splash as the screenwriter of Rachel Getting Married. What made RGM such a splash was that Lumet seemed to reflect parts of her own life in the film. The parents are divorced; the white father has remarried a black woman and the daughter from the first marriage is marrying a black man.

Now I have not seen Rachel Getting Married, but I would find it interesting from the usual run-of-the-mill, but not sensational, you dig? I would be saying, why the hell not? I’d be comparing craziness. Because I see it in my own family. Nevertheless, you know how the media flips out over things like this as if it is something novel when it really isn’t in real life (eyes rolling skyward). From the Los Angeles Times, September 28, 2008:

Directed by Jonathan Demme, the tale revolves around Kym (Anne Hathaway), a young woman who has battled substance abuse problems for years who returns to the family home for her sister Rachel’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding. The film paints a portrait of a complicated relationship between the sisters, one darkened by shades of jealousy, guilt and other emotional fallout from a seemingly unforgivable act.

“Writing started with my first pregnancy,” Lumet explains. “And teaching started with my first pregnancy. My son — he’s 13 — goes to a school called Manhattan Country School, which is a hippie school on 96th Street. They don’t have any money, so I said, ‘I’ll start a drama program.’ I know absolutely if it wasn’t for being a teacher and being in front of 12- and 13-year-olds, there is no way I could have had any nerve to write this script, let alone any script.”

To create the film’s realistic and complex characters, Lumet says she pilfered from friends and family. “My dad is a notorious maker of sandwiches and a feeder of guests and a dishwasher lunatic,” she says, explaining traits she ascribed to the father in “Rachel Getting Married.”

I think families are weird and insane. They are the best source material on the planet.”

I can well believe that.

Jenny may still teach drama at her son’s school although at the time of the LAT interview, the boy was leaving his tweens. She was married for nearly a decade to actor Robert “Bobby” Cannavale who is Cuban and Italian American. Their marriage produced Jacob, now about 15 and probably completing his first year in high school. She’s now married to Alex Weinstein, “a nice Jewish boy,” and they have now added two-year-old Sasha to the family.

Jenny says that she will continue to write. Perhaps, we’ll see another of her movies. Or even a book. What evident–and important–is that these two–as well as their lesser-known cousins–are not as limited in choices as their grandmother was. All they need(ed) to do is to find themselves or find out where they belonged and what they truly loved. And let go of some of that past, and keep the rest.

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~ by blksista on May 12, 2010.

14 Responses to “The Grandchildren of Lena Horne”

  1. William and little Lena are doing fine. I wont leave any personal info on Lena (because she would be UPSET). William is doing well and is excited about life. Lena, William and I are and will always be close- began before we were in our teens and will last until the dirt is thrown on us :) WE are connected through our grandparents and Teddy.
    One

    • I am glad to read about this; all of you have my best wishes and prayer for your continued happiness.

  2. Samadhi Jones on Facebook is the Samadhi Jones.

  3. Lena married fug Lennis Hayton to FURTHER HER CAREER. Deal with it.

    • Soooo? That was her initial reason. At the end of his life and their marriage, she felt differently.

      Just because something begins for one reason or another, doesn’t mean that it continues in that fashion unaltered.

  4. Who cares? I still love Ms Lena Horne.

  5. Well, it all started with Lena Horne’s married to Lennie Hayton. Her daughter married Sidney Lumet who [has] two daughters, who show no blackness at all (my opinion), thanks to mom. Lena['s] son never got started, it seems. His children should have been pull[ed] in by Miss Lena Horne and family when he died, unless they took the stance all or nothing. I always believe the Hornes had a idenity (sic) problem from way back. But Miss Lena Horne was one the greatist (sic) BLACK entertainers of all time
    +1

  6. This was a great read. Now do you have photos of Lena Jones? Did Teddy kids attend the funeral? Interesting. Very good.

    • There are no photos of Lena Jones that I could find.

      Of Samadhi Jones, there is one young woman on Facebook who may be the Samadhi Jones, granddaughter of Lena Horne. However, I am not sure; there is more confirmation about Tom Jones than his sisters.

      I did not recognize any of Teddy’s children appearing at the funeral. I could only see Gail (who looked rather overcome), and one of her daughters. No, not that one, the other one. The screenwriter.

      You can find that information on my last post about my laptop shortening out.

  7. Hello, I am and was a personal friend of Thomas, William and Samadhi Jones. We used to play together when we were children. Louis Jones was a family friend, and he and the children would often visit when my father was in town. We lived not far from each other in Los Angeles. I was a few years older than the twins and Samadhi was about four, and I remember the conversations about them with Louis and my father.

    We fell out of contact for some time, and William came to visit me with his grandfather shortly before he passed away. They were typical little boys as children; we often were mischievous at times, but [it] was all in good fun. I find it sad that the press completely ignores them .

    There was no love lost between Louis and Lena–I remember that as a child. I spoke to Mr. Jones quite often as an adult, he would stop by my home to drop off the monthly copy of Union Letter Carrier Magazine of which he was the editor.

    • Thank you for your reminisces.

      I think that it is really too bad that the press ignores this important aspect of Horne’s life, and how she may have tried to hide their existence because it was too painful–and embarrassing–for her.

      Because Gail was with Horne, she got it all because proximity is all.

  8. Well, it all started with Lena Horne’s married to Lennie Hayton. Her daughter married Sidney Lumet who [has] two daughters, who show no blackness at all (my opinion), thanks to mom. Lena['s] son never got started, it seems. His children should have been pull[ed] in by Miss Lena Horne and family when he died, unless they took the stance all or nothing. I always believe the Hornes had a idenity (sic) problem from way back. But Miss Lena Horne was one the greatist (sic) BLACK entertainers of all time

    • As I said before, her son Teddy’s children were taken advantage of by a con artist, who pocketed the money for their upbringing. This woman charged their grandfather, Louis Jordan Jones, with a lot of unfounded activity that Lena readily believed. He was Lena Horne’s first husband who had ‘raised’ Teddy Jones.

      And as I said before, Teddy’s relationship with his mother was damaged by the fight the parents had with each other that resulted in Lena having to take Gail only. It got worse from there, and impacted Teddy’s children as well. As they were minor children at that time, there was very little that they could demand “all or nothing.” Only adults could do that. It’s a sad, sad story all around.

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