Lena Horne dies - Macleans.ca

Lena Horne dies

Jazz star and civil rights activist was 92


Lena Horne, the jazz singer and actress, died yesterday in New York at the age of 92. With her small-sized but smooth voice, and her memorably sexy vocalism, Horne was one of the most legendary female jazz vocalists in America, often ranked with the likes of Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald in her performances of jazz standards like “Stormy Weather.” While in her twenties, she was signed to a seven-year contract by MGM, making her one of the few black performers under contract at a major studio. However, her movie career was held back by the studio’s reluctance to prominently feature her as well as her refusal to take roles as maids or other stereotypical characters: her big bathtub scene in the movie Cabin in the Sky was cut because Southern theatres refused to show a titillating scene involving a black woman. At MGM, she met and married the arranger Lennie Hayton, who became her second husband, making them one of the most prominent inter-racial couples in America at a time when intermarriage was still banned in many states. In the ’60s, Horne became more politically active, getting involved in the civil rights movement. She continued to perform and tour; her Broadway shows included the musical Jamaica, playing opposite Ricardo Montalban, and her one-woman show Lena Horne, the Lady and Her Music.

LA Times

Filed under: