Little did Vincent Chandler realize that a chance meeting with Lena Horne more than three decades ago would help bring a world-renown jazz photographer to his house this weekend.
The strange circle of events will be complete this Saturday, when Chandler and his wife Irene, both art brokers, host their annual art show in their Glen Cove home. The guest star is famed photographer Herman Leonard, who has hung out with and taken pictures of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and anybody who's anybody in the jazz world.
The Chandlers, who have made a name for themselves in the art world, put on an annual fete at their house featuring a prominent artist. Their events have become one of Vallejo's few black-tie events.
The fateful set of events for this year's show began when Chandler was only a teenager performing respiratory care at Frank Sinatra Medical Center in Palm Springs in 1969.
The legendary Sinatra was throwing a party at his house nearby when the husband of guest Lena Horne, Lennie Hayton, suffered an aneurysm and was rushed to Chandler's hospital.
Next thing Chandler knew, he was surrounded by all the musicians he'd listened to on the radio as a kid.
"I turned and there (Sinatra) was with white boots on. It was incredible seeing him," Chandler said.
Sinatra ordered everyone out of the ICU and it was roped off, Chandler said. A couple doctors and Chandler were allowed to stay to help Horne's husband, who eventually died from the attack.
Later that night Horne arrived at the hospital and Chandler sat at a table with her, the Vallejoan recalled. Chandler built up enough nerve and asked for her autograph. She signed her name on the back of the hospital treatment record.
Chandler kept that souvenir.
Fast forward to 2004, Chandler, now an established art collector,
wanted a print of Horne to frame with his autograph.
Years before, the Chandlers traveled to New Orleans and bought a Billie Holliday photograph by Leonard.
"His name has always stuck with me. We didn't even know he lived in New Orleans," Chandler said.
So Chandler returned with his wife to New Orleans, a year before Hurricane Katrina, determined to find his Lena Horne photo.
"I was focused. I really wanted a Lena Horne. I wasn't going to leave until I got it," Chandler said.