Horne, Lena

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Horne, Lena

(Lena Mary Calhoun Horne), 1917–2010, American singer and actress, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. Elegantly beautiful, Horne entered show business at 16 in the chorus line at Harlem's Cotton Club; she later sang there and was a vocalist with numerous bands. She debuted on Broadway in 1934 and achieved critical notice in "Blackbirds" of 1939 and 1940. In 1941 she moved to Hollywood and quickly became (1942) the first black performer signed to a long-term contract with a major studio and the highest-paid African-American actor. Nonetheless, her roles were usually limited to musical numbers, which could be cut if shown in the segregated South. Her rare dramatic roles were in two 1943 musical films with all-black casts, Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather, and she became famous for her sultry rendition of the latter's title song. Active in politics and civil rights, she was blacklisted from the stage and screen in the early 1950s, but continued working as a television actress and performer, nightclub singer, and recording artist, and returned to Broadway in Jamaica (1957). She also appeared in two more films, Death of a Gunfighter (1969) and The Wiz (1978). In 1981 she starred in a Tony-winning one-woman Broadway show.


See her autobiography (with R. Schickel, 1965, repr. 1986); biographies by B. Howard (1981), L. Palmer (1989), J. Haskins and K. Benson (1991), and J. Gavin (2009); G. L. Buckley (her daughter), The Hornes: An American Family (1986).

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Horne, Lena (Calhoun)

(1917–  ) singer, actress; born in New York City. Raised by her actress mother, by age 16 she was dancing at Harlem's Cotton Club; with her stunning looks and electric voice, she soon became a popular singer with bands such as those of Noble Sissle and Teddy Wilson, and she performed in the musical Blackbirds of 1939. By 1938 she was making movies and she became the first African-American to be signed to a long-term contract (although her scenes were sometimes excised for distribution in the South). The title song of the movie Stormy Weather (1943) became her signature. She was blacklisted in the early 1950s for little more than her friendship with Paul Robeson and her outspokenness about discrimination, but she performed in the musical Jamaica (1957) and later made several movies. She toured Europe and the United States as a nightclub singer, spoke out increasingly against racism, and published her autobiography, Lena (1965).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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Taking cues from new historiographies that expand the period into a "long civil rights movement," from the 1940s to 1970s, Feldstein features the following cast in chronological order: Lena Horne, Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll, and Cicely Tyson.
Lena Horne had undeniably suffered from racism in her brilliant and long career, and her old man was one of New York's most famous defenders of the downtrodden.
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US singer Lena Horne died last week - what was her signature tune?
WASHINGTON: Entertainer Lena Horne, a show-stopping beauty who battled racism in a frustrating effort to become Hollywood s first black leading lady and later won acclaim as a singer, has died at age 92.
He collaborated with poet Langston Hughes on a highly praised book, AoSweet Flypaper of LifeAo, in 1955 and received early encouragement from Edward Steichen, one of the formative figures of photography as an art form.DeCarava chose African-American life as his subject and photographed many high-profile black artists, including Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis.
STORMY WEATHER: THE LIFE OF LENA HORNE offers a definitive biography of Lena, star of stage and music who forged a trail for African Americans in the arts.
As part of the festival Women: The Heart and Soul of Theatre, SHELDON EPPS, artistic director of the famed Pasadena Playhouse, presented Stormy Weather, celebrating the life and career of LENA HORNE.
Kitt rose to fame from humble origins as a mixed-race child who grew up in South Carolina's cotton fields, and, along with fellow cafe-au-lait screen sirens Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge, was among the first of the African-American sex symbols.