Monday, May 10, 2010

RIP: Lena Horne

Singer, actress, and African American history-maker Lena Horne passed away Sunday in New York City at age 92.  A legendary performer, Horne began her career as a teenage chorus girl in Harlem's Cotton Club during the 1930's and from there skyrocketed to fame as a multi-threat balancing roles in film and television with the Broadway and musical stardom for which she is most frequently recognized.

Horne was the first black star in the Hollywood studio system, signed to a 7-year contract with MGM and refusing to play stereotypical roles.  While her refusal meant that many of her roles became limited to nonspeaking singing parts, Horne found exceptions in the 40's musicals "Stormy Weather" (the title song of which she's closely associated with) and "Cabin in the Sky".

Later blacklisted from Hollywood for a progressive political stance, Horne became fed up with the film world and became a musical headliner as she toured nightclubs the world over.  A jazz diva and a legend, Horne was a talent who will truly be missed.   

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