40 Facts About Lena Horne


Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was an American dancer, actress, singer, and civil rights activist.

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Lena Horne's career spanned over seventy years, appearing in film, television, and theatre.

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Lena Horne joined the chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of sixteen and became a nightclub performer before moving to Hollywood.

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Lena Horne advocated for human rights and took part in the March on Washington in August 1963.

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Lena Horne's 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 300 performances on Broadway.

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Lena Horne's then toured the country in the show, earning numerous awards and accolades.

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Lena Horne continued recording and performing sporadically into the 1990s, retreating from the public eye in 2000.

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Lena Horne's belonged to the well-educated, upper stratum of black New Yorkers at the time.

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Lena Horne was raised mainly by her grandparents, Cora Calhoun and Edwin Lena Horne.

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Lena Horne was the Dean of students at Fort Valley Junior Industrial Institute in Fort Valley, Georgia, who later served as an adviser to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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Lena Horne's then attended Girls High School, an all-girls public high school in Brooklyn that has since become Boys and Girls High School; she dropped out without earning a diploma.

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Lena Horne made her first screen appearance as a dancer in the musical short Cab Calloway's Jitterbug Party .

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Lena Horne's replaced Dinah Shore as the featured vocalist on NBC's popular jazz series The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street.

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Lena Horne left the show after only six months when she was hired by former Cafe Trocadero manager Felix Young to perform in a Cotton Club-style revue on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.

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Lena Horne already had two low-budget movies to her credit: a musical feature called The Duke is Tops ; and a two-reel short subject, Boogie Woogie Dream, featuring pianists Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons.

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Lena Horne made her Hollywood nightclub debut at Felix Young's Little Troc on the Sunset Strip in January 1942.

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Lena Horne's appeared in several MGM musicals, including Cabin in the Sky with an entirely African American cast.

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Lena Horne's was otherwise not featured in a leading role because of her ethnicity and the fact that her films were required to be re-edited for showing in cities where theaters would not show films with black performers.

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One number from Cabin in the Sky was cut before release because it was considered too suggestive by the censors: Lena Horne singing "Ain't It the Truth" while taking a bubble bath.

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Lena Horne was the first African-American person elected to serve on the Screen Actors Guild board of directors.

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Lena Horne lobbied for the role of Julie LaVerne in MGM's version of Show Boat, having already played the role when a segment of Show Boat was performed in Till the Clouds Roll By, but lost the part to Ava Gardner, a friend in real life.

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Lena Horne claimed this was due to the Production Code's ban on interracial relationships in films, although MGM sources state she was never considered for the role.

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Lena Horne became disenchanted with Hollywood and increasingly focused on her nightclub career.

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Lena Horne's made only two major appearances for MGM during the 1950s: Duchess of Idaho ; and the musical Meet Me in Las Vegas .

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Lena Horne's returned to the screen, playing Claire Quintana, a madam in a brothel who marries Richard Widmark, in the film Death of a Gunfighter, her first straight dramatic role with no reference to her color.

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Lena Horne's headlined at clubs and hotels throughout the U S, Canada, and Europe, including the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles, and the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

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In 1958, Lena Horne became the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Tony Award for "Best Actress in a Musical" which, at Lena Horne's request featured her longtime friend Adelaide Hall.

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Additionally, Lena Horne played herself on television programs such as The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and Sanford and Son in the 1970s, as well as a 1985 performance on The Cosby Show and a 1993 appearance on A Different World.

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Lena Horne asked to be introduced to Horne following her performance.

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In 1998, Lena Horne released another studio album, entitled Being Myself.

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Thereafter, Lena Horne retired from performing and largely retreated from public view, though she did return to the recording studio in 2000 to contribute vocal tracks on Simon Rattle's Classic Ellington album.

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However, the USO observed at the time of her death that Lena Horne did in fact tour "extensively with the USO during WWII on the West Coast and in the South".

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Lena Horne's was at an NAACP rally with Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, the weekend before Evers was assassinated.

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Lena Horne's worked with Eleanor Roosevelt in attempts to pass anti-lynching laws.

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Lena Horne married Louis Jordan Jones, a political operative, in January 1937 in Pittsburgh.

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Lena Horne's later admitted in an interview in Ebony that she had married Hayton to advance her career and cross the color barrier in show business, but "learned to love him very much".

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Lena Horne had affairs with long-time heavyweight champion Joe Louis and actors Artie Shaw, Orson Welles, as well as director Vincente Minnelli.

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Lena Horne had a long and close relationship with Billy Strayhorn, whom she said she would have married if he had been heterosexual.

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In 2011, Lena Horne was portrayed by actress Ryan Jillian in a one-woman show titled Notes from A Lena Horne staged at the Susan Batson studio in New York City, from November 2011 to February 2012.

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In 2018, a forever stamp depicting Lena Horne began to be issued; this made Lena Horne the 41st honoree in the Black Heritage stamp series.

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