Today is a sad day in entertainment, merely hours after a fresh start to the week and just in from a lovely Mother’s Day weekend. Just after midnight, news quickly spread that Lena Horne, one of the most iconic figures in entertainment history, died Sunday (on Mother’s Day) at 92 years old. Living a full, exciting and elegant life for nearly a century before the eyes of many who have come and gone both before and after her, Lena Horne will forever be highly regarded as that enchanting, stylized jazz singer and actress we all respected for her grace, class and integrity amid so much early struggle in her career.
Horne, who reviled the bigotry in this country that would eventually allow her multiple moments on the main stage to entertain white audiences worldwide yet still unable to socialize with each of them. Although it seemed to have slowed her inevitable rise to Broadway superstardom, Lena Horne’s spirit, gifts, talent and tenacity always shined through brighter than the spotlight of any means of adversity. She was strong-willed, determined and gave us the prime example of what it means to be a lady in this business.
Horne died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to hospital spokeswoman Gloria Chin this morning. Chin would not release any further details.
We remember Lena Horne today not only for her striking beauty and her natural, effortless sex appeal. We remember her beyond those things about her that might have often overshadowed her sultry voice. We remember her because she always maintained a certain air, a candid description of the underlying reasons for her success – many of which had to do with the singer’s fair complexion.
Click here to read more of what Lena Horne had to say about dealing with race and holding onto her integrity during her tumultuous rise to fame.
If you don’t know much else about Lena Horne, let us school you this morning. Early in the 1940s, Horne became one of the first black performers hired to sing with a major white band. She was also the first to play the world-renowned Copacabana nightclub and she was also among a small hand full of early African American entertainers to be offered Hollywood contract and performance deal.
In 1943, MGM Studios decided to take advantage of Horne’s talent and eventually loaned her to 20th Century-Fox, where she played the role of Selina Rogers in the all-black movie musical “Stormy Weather.” Her rendition of the title song later became a major hit and her signature piece which audiences across the world never seem to get enough of.
As you might have guessed, Lena Horne paved the way for tons of today’s biggest and brightest stars in film, television, jazz and more. Halle Berry, Kerry Washington, Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah, Ledisi. You name ’em and we’ll guarantee Lena Horne influenced them all in some shape or form.
As we honor this lovely leading lady, her life and her legacy, we want to allow you to chime in on what Lena Horne has meant to you. Feel free to post your comments, your thoughts, your responses as well as your condolences to the family of Ms. Lena Horne in the comments section below. We’ll be back this afternoon to give you more on the life of our lady – Lena Horne.