Groundbreaking Lena Horne Dead at 92

'Stormy Weather' great broke ground for African Americans

By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff

Posted May 10, 2010 5:44 AM CDT

(Newser) – Lena Horne, the legendary singer who broke new ground for African-Americans in Hollywood, has died at the age of 92. Best known for the song "Stormy Weather," the jazz vocalist won accolades as a cabaret and Broadway performer. Horne got her start in 1933 as a teenage chorus girl at the legendary Cotton Club in Harlem; she was such a sensation that she later became the first African-American signed to long-term Hollywood contract, the LA Times reports.

Refusing to play the maid and other stereotypical roles commonly available to black women at the time, Horne appeared in Hollywood movies of the '40s mostly in nonspeaking roles as a singer. She became active in the civil rights movement in the '60s, and performed on Broadway into the '80s. "My life has been about surviving," Horne once said. "Along the way I also became an artist. It's been an interesting journey. One in which music became first my refuge and then my salvation."

FILE -- In an Oct. 12, 1955 file photo singer and actress Lena Horne and her husband Lennie Hayton are photographed in their hotel room at the Savoy in London, England.
FILE -- In an Oct. 12, 1955 file photo singer and actress Lena Horne and her husband Lennie Hayton are photographed in their hotel room at the Savoy in London, England.   (AP Photo/FILE)
In a June 23, 1997 file photo Ginny Mancini and Lena Horne hold  the Ella Award which was given to Horne, on June 23, 1997, during the Society of Singers' Lena Horne 80th Birthday Gala in New York.
In a June 23, 1997 file photo Ginny Mancini and Lena Horne hold the Ella Award which was given to Horne, on June 23, 1997, during the Society of Singers' Lena Horne 80th Birthday Gala in New York.   (AP Photo/Aubrey Reuben/file)
In a March 1954 file  photo singer Lena Horne performs at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev. Singer Lena Horne, who broke racial barriers as a Hollywood and Broadway star, has died at age 92.
In a March 1954 file photo singer Lena Horne performs at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev. Singer Lena Horne, who broke racial barriers as a Hollywood and Broadway star, has died at age 92.   (AP Photo)
Promotional portrait of American singer and actor Lena Horne, 1950s.
Promotional portrait of American singer and actor Lena Horne, 1950s.   (Getty Images)
13th October 1959:  Portrait of the American singer, Lena Horne, in London for a Variety Club of Great Britain's luncheon.
13th October 1959: Portrait of the American singer, Lena Horne, in London for a Variety Club of Great Britain's luncheon.   (Getty Images)
American actress and singer Lena Horne addresses the crowd gathered to welcome her back to her birthplace on Lena Horne Homecoming Day in Brooklyn, New York, August 1947.
American actress and singer Lena Horne addresses the crowd gathered to welcome her back to her birthplace on Lena Horne Homecoming Day in Brooklyn, New York, August 1947.   (Getty Images)
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Lena Horne's singing career spanned more than 60 years.   (LESBIANGAYVIDEOS)

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I was a kind of black that white people could accept. 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. - Lena Horne

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