Legendary actress and jazz singer Lena Horne died Sunday in New York. Horne, who bravely battled racism throughout her life as both a performer and an activist, was 92.
Lena Horne began her entertainment career in 1933 when she joined the chorus line of the Cotton Club in New York City. She also began appearing in low-budget films such as The Duke is Tops and Boogie Woogie Dream.
Horne went on to sign with MGM in the 1940’s, garnering roles in movies like Panama Hattie, Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather. Because of her ethnicity, however, Horne was never given leading roles. Her appearances were also edited out of movies in states that did not allow films with black actors to be show in theaters.
Blacklisted from Hollywood in the 1950’s because of her political views, Lena Horne returned to singing at nightclubs and on television. Although she did appear in a handful of films later in her career, Horne was better known for her amazing voice in later years than her acting roles.
Lena Horne was honored with a Special Tony Award in 1981 for her one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music. The show still holds the record for the longest-running solo show on Broadway.
In addition to her entertainment career, Lena Horne was also an avid civil rights activist. Horne spoke and performed at the March on Washington and helped pass anti-lynching laws in collaboration with Eleanor Roosevelt.
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