Gifted. Soulful. Sultry. Barrier-breaking. Lena Horne was these things and many more. She cannot be characterized as a singer or entertainer alone, she was an actress and a civil rights activist who worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass anti-lynching laws and once was blacklisted and unable to get work in Hollywood due to her progressive political views. Lena Horne refused to perform for segregated audiences or for groups in which German POWs were seated in front of African American servicemen. She was the first black performer to sign a long-term contract with a major Hollywood studio thus making her an inspirational piece of African American history. Lena Horne still holds the record for the longest-running solo performance in Broadway history!
NEW YORK – Lena Horne, the enchanting jazz singer and actress who reviled the bigotry that allowed her to entertain white audiences but not socialize with them, slowing her rise to Broadway superstardom, has died. She was 92.
Horne died Sunday at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, according to hospital spokeswoman Gloria Chin. Chin would not release any other details.
Horne, whose striking beauty and magnetic sex appeal often overshadowed her sultry voice, was remarkably candid about the underlying reason for her success.
“I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept,” she once said. “I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked.”