Lena Horne was an American performer and Civil rights activist with a career spanning over 70 years overcoming the racial abuse existing at that time.
Lena Horne was born on June 30, 1917, in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
Horne married Louis Jones in 1937 in Pittsburgh. A daughter was born to them. Unfortunately, their son died at the age of 30. They divorced in 1944. She married Lennie Hayton in 1947. They separated in the early 1960s. They faced mammoth peer and social as an interracial couple.
At the age of 16, Horne joined the Cotton Club in New York City as a member of the chorus. She made her first records with Noble Sissle’s Orchestra.
Horne made her Hollywood nightclub debut at Felix Young’s Little Troc in 1942. After moving to Hollywood, She appeared in several MGM musicals, most notably Cabin in the Sky. She did not act as a lead artist because of race and her film was to be re-edited for showing in cities debarring black performers. So Horne made stand-alone performances causing no disruptions to the storyline. The all-black musical Cabin in the Sky was a notable exception.
By the mid of the 1950s, Horne became famous as a nightclub singer. Her performance in TV and musical albums were well received by the audience. In 1957, Lena Horne at the Waldorf-Astoria, a live album became the biggest-selling record by a female. In 1958, Horne became the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Tony Award for “Best Actress in a Musical”. In 1970, she co-starred with Harry Belafonte for ABC. She had own 4 Grammy awards in different categories.
Horne was involved with the Civil Rights Movement. She worked with Paul Robeson. She quit USO for their segregated audience policy. She was at the March on Washington for the rights of African Americans. She was blacklisted during the 1950s for her affiliations with communist-backed groups, whom she disowned later.
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