Singer and Actress Lena Horne Dead at 92
By PopEater / Wire Services Posted May 10th 2010 06:47AM
In the 1940s, Horne was one of the first black performers hired to sing with a major white band, the first to play the Copacabana nightclub and among a handful with a Hollywood contract. In 1943, MGM Studios loaned her to 20th Century-Fox to play the role of Selina Rogers in the all-black movie musical 'Stormy Weather.' Her rendition of the title song became a major hit and her signature piece.
"I was always battling the system to try to get to be with my people. Finally, I wouldn't work for places that kept us out ... it was a damn fight everywhere I was, every place I worked, in New York, in Hollywood, all over the world," she said in Brian Lanker's book, 'I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America.'
Horne was at home vocally with a wide musical range, from blues and jazz to the sophistication of Rodgers and Hart in songs like 'The Lady Is a Tramp' and 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.'
By the mid-1950s, Horne -- who in 1947 married composer and musical director Lennie Hayton in a secret wedding in Paris, because interracial marriages were illegal in California -- left Hollywood, "bitter," she said, "at the whole Hollywood system," and went on to tremendous success as a stage actress and consummate jazz singer, PEOPLE reports.
In her first big Broadway success, as the star of 'Jamaica' in 1957, reviewer Richard Watts Jr. called her "one of the incomparable performers of our time." Songwriter Buddy de Sylva dubbed her "the best female singer of songs."
Lena Horne Photos
In an April 30, 1981 file photo singer Lena Horne is shown in a Broadway production 'Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music' in New York. More photos >>
In the last decades of her life, she rode a new wave of popularity as a revered icon of American popular music. Her 1981 one-woman Broadway show, 'Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music,' won a special Tony Award.
Widowed in 1971, Horne moved to New York City and continued her stage and concert work and even did the occasional movie role, including that of Diana Ross's fairy godmother in the 1978 'The Wiz.'
Horne's other roles included 'I Dood It,' a Red Skelton comedy, 'Thousands Cheer' and 'Swing Fever,' all in 1943; 'Broadway Rhythm' in 1944; and 'Ziegfeld Follies' in 1946.
Recently Departed Celebrities
Lynn Redgrave, May 2: The third member of the Redgrave acting dynasty to die in a year, Lynn passed away at her Manhattan apartment at age 67 of as-yet unannounced causes. The 'Georgy Girl' star's niece, Natasha Richardson, died a year ago and her older brother Corin, succumbed to illness a month ago.
Teresa Barbieri, Getty Images
Teresa Barbieri, Getty Images
Recently Departed Celebs
2010 AOL LLC. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
- Jennifer Aniston
- Paris Hilton
Kate Middleton is officially a princess. She walked the aisle in an Alexander...
According to Denise, she's not sure that her estranged ex is completely sober....
Popeater Hot Topics
- 'X-Men' director calls sex abuse lawsuit a shakedown
- FOX411's pic of the day
- James Franco on his 'intimate' selfies: 'It's not like I'm exposing myself'
- Ancient Flying Reptile Named After Kung Fu Film 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'
- Mark Millar Comic 'MPH' Optioned by Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Exclusive)
- Dr. Phil Gives Obama, Putin Couples Therapy on 'Tonight Show' (Video)
EW.COMFEEDMore From EW.com Li
- Daniel Radcliffe Asks, 'What Would Michael Fassbender Do?'
- Brace Yourselves, There's Going to Be a Peeps Movie
- Bryan Singer Breaks Silence, Pulls Out of 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' Press Tour