Actor / Singer
Date Of Birth:
30 June 1917
Date Of Death:
9 May 2010
Place Of Birth:
Brooklyn, New York
Best Known As:
Singer of the jazz standard "Stormy Weather"
A pioneer among African-American performers, Lena Horne had the talent, beauty and ambition to crack the race barrier in Hollywood in the 1940s. A smooth singer of bluesy ballads, Lena Horne appeared onstage in Harlem when she was only 14 years old, and by age 16 she was singing in the famous Cotton Club. Eventually she made her way into films, starring in the popular 1943 musicals Stormy Weather (with the tap-dancing The Nicholas Brothers) and Cabin in the Sky (with jazz legend Louis Armstrong). She appeared in more than 20 films in all. In later years she continued to sing in clubs and was a steady presence on TV and radio; her active career spanned six decades. Her Broadway musical retrospective, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, ran for 333 performances in 1981-82. She was showered with awards near the end of her career, among them a special Tony Award (1981), Kennedy Center Honors (1984), and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1989).
Lena Horne was due to be played by Janet Jackson in a 2004 TV biopic titled Lena, but Horne barred Jackson from taking the part after Jackson flashed her near-naked breast during the halftime show of the 2004 Super Bowl. The movie was never made… Lena Horne was a longtime spokesperson for Sanka instant coffee, often singing a variation on the old Ink Spots pop hit “Java Jive”: “I love coffee, I love tea, I love my Sanka ’cause it loves me.”
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