Traiblazing actress and singer Lena Horne passed away this weekend in New York.
The bright lights of Hollywood have gone a little dim with the loss of Lena, who was the first Black actress to sign a major movie deal.
According to a family rep, Lena died on Sunday night at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She was 92 years old.
Lena leaves behind an amazing legacy. She established a solid reputation as a Hollywood “it girl” with roles in musicals like Cabin In the Sky and Stormy Weather. The title track from that film would go on to become her signature song.
She broke the color barrier through her long-term deal with MGM, which stipulated that she would never have to play anyone’s maid. And she was often featured in film ads, getting the same treatment as her White colleagues.
Still, Lena’s career wasn’t completely free from the stigma of racism. "I hated those awful phrases they used to trot out to describe me!" she said during an interview, The Washington Post reports. "Who the hell wants to be a ‘chocolate chanteuse’ ?"
Lena wasn’t well-received in theaters down south either. In the beginning, her roles were mainly relegated to singing parts that could be easily cut from a film to suit Southern movie audiences.
"Mississippi wanted its movies without me," she once told the New York Times. "So no one bothered to put me in a movie where I talked to anybody, where some thread of the story might be broken if I were cut."
There’s no word on when Lena will be laid to rest, but S2S will keep you updated as the information becomes available.
– Sonya Eskridge