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Style Icon Lena Horne dies at 92


Enchanting American jazz singer, actress, and dancer, and fashion icon Lena Horne, has died. The actress known for her plaintive, signature song “Stormy Weather” and for her triumph over the bigotry that allowed her to entertain white audiences but not socialize with them, was 92 years old.

Horne died last Sunday at NewYork_Presbyterian Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Gloria Chin, who would not release details of her death.

Horne began her musical career with  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. Owing to the Red Scare and her left_leaning political views, Horne found herself blacklisted and unable to get work in Hollywood.
In the 1940s, Horne was one of the first black performers hired to sing with a major white band, to play the Copacabana nightclub in New York City and when she signed with MGM, she was among a handful of black actors to have a contract with a major Hollywood studio.
She made her debut with MGM in Panama Hattie (1942) and performed the title song of Stormy Weather (1943), which she was made at 20th Century Fox, on loan from MGM. She appeared in a number of MGM musicals, most notably Cabin in the Sky (also 1943), but was never featured in a leading role because of her race and the fact that films featuring her had to be re_edited for showing in states where theaters could not show films with black performers

Horne had an impressive musical range, from blues and jazz to the sophistication of Rodgers and Hart in such songs as “The Lady Is a Tramp” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” In 1942’s “Panama Hattie,” her first movie with MGM, she sang Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things,” winning critical acclaim.

By the 1960s, Horne was one of the most visible celebrities in the civil rights movement, once throwing a lamp at a customer who made a racial slur in a Beverly Hills restaurant and, in 1963, joining 250,000 others in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Horne also spoke at a rally that year with another civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, just days before his assassination.

Quincy Jones, a longtime friend and collaborator, was among those mourning her death on Monday. He called her a “pioneering groundbreaker.”.  “Lena Horne was a pioneering groundbreaker, making inroads into a world that had never before been explored by African_American women, and she did it on her own terms,” he said.

In addition to her obvious talent, she was also known for her elegance and style

Horne died on May 9, 2010, at the NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital  in New York City. She is survived by her daughter, Gail Lumet Buckley, granddaughter Jenny and Amy Lumet, Lena Jones, and grandsons, William and Thomas Jones


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