Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (June 30, 1917-May 9, 2010)

Lena Horne was an American singer, actress and dancer.

She was born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Reported to have descended from the John C. Calhoun family, both sides of her family were a mixture of African, European, and Native American descent. She was raised by her grandparents, Cora Calhoun and Edwin Horne at 189 Chauncey Street in Brooklyn. Her uncle, Frank S. Horne, was an adviser to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Dean of Students at the Fort Valley Junior Industrial Institute in Fort Valley, GA. She attended Washington High School in Atlanta where her grandmother convinced her to join the NAACP. Horne also attended Girls High School, an all-girls public high school in Brooklyn which has since become Boys and Girls High School on Fulton Street. She dropped out without earning a diploma.

Horne joined the mike chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of sixteen and became a nightclub performer before moving to Hollywood where she had small parts in numerous movies, and more substantial parts in the films Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather. Due to the Red Scare and her progressive political views, Horne found herself blacklisted and unable to get work in Hollywood.

She returned to work as a performer, both in nightclubs as well as television, and released well-received albums. Horne announced her retirement in March 1980, but the next year starred in a one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music which ran for more than three hundred performances on Broadway, and earned her numerous awards and accolades. Horne recorded sporadically following the show, but no longer made public appearances.

Lena Horne died on May 9, 2010, at the age of 92, at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.


Anonymous said...

Lena Horne was a very special lady. I understand Alicia Keyes will be starring as her in her biopic. Will enjoy that. K.

petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Yes, I heard, K.! Am really looking forward to it. And wholeheartedly agree! Lena Horne was indeed a very special lady! :))