Lena Horne - A Tribute

The Lady Lena Horne

Ms. Horne, the voice, the lady, actress, singer, civil rights activist legend passed away on May 9, 2010. Lena braved the stormy weather of hatred, bigotry and racism. In World War II, while entertaining the troops for the USO, Ms. Horne refused to appear in front of segregated audiences or for audiences in which German POWs were seated in front of black service men.

Our US Army refused to allow the entertainer to perform in front of a integrated audience so the show was performed in front of Black servicemen and German POWs . . . what a system.

Horne participated in the NAACP rally with the late Megar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, a week before his assassination. Lena was also in the March on Washington, performed fro the NAACP, SNCC and the National Council of Negro Women and worked side by side with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass the anti-lynching laws. Horne was also a prominent member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Lena Teaching How to Save Fuel for the War Effort

To Ms. Horne, Her Life and Career

Personal History

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne, born June 30, 1917 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. It is rumored that her family descended from the John C. Calhoun family (seventh Vice President of the United States under President John Q. Adams). Both her maternal and paternal family were of mixed heritage, African American, European and Native American.

Horne's family belong to what W.E. B. Du Bois called the "The Talented Tenth", upper middle-class well educated blacks. Edwin "Teddy" Horned (died 1970), left the family when Lena was three a numbers runner and gambling kingpin by trade. Mother Horne, Edna Scottron, who was the daughter of an inventor / leader of the black Republican party, Samuel R. Scottron (special mirror bracket) was well known in her field and traveled extensively.

Due to the scattering of family Lena was raised by her grandparents, Cora & Edwin Horne, in Brooklyn and then in Atlanta, where her grandmother convinced the young artist to join the NAACP. Horne dropped out of high school and in the fall of 1933 joined the chorus line of the Cotton Club in New York City. By 1934 she as a feature in the Cotton Club Parade, joined an orchestra and toured.

Professional History

Tiring of touring and recently divorced from her first husband Lena replaced Diana Shore taking on the job of featured vocalist on NBC's jazz series The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Stree t. Even though at this time Horne was primarily a nightclub performer she had two low budget movies added to her resume The Duke is Top (19388) and a two reel short Boogie Woogie Dream .

It was during her stint at a nightclub one night that she was approached by talent scouts from Metro- Goldwyn- Mayer and became the first black to sign a long term contract with a major Hollywood studio. In 1942 Lena made her first movie debut in MGM's Panama Hattie while on loan to 20th Century Fox she first performed her signature song "Stormy Weather" (1943).

Horne appeared in several more musicals most notable was Cabin in the Sky. A leading role was never offered due to her ethnicity. Plus the cost of re-editing films in states that did not allow black performers on their screens. As it was a scene was cut from the artist's performance in Cabin in the Sky . Lena sang while in a bubble bath, and the scene was deemed to risque for audiences.

In 1951 there was a brouhaha about Lena Horne in the lead role of MGM's film version of Show Boat, the actress loss the part to Ava Gardner due to the ban on interracial relationships in film. The studio heads required that Gardner practice singing to Horne's recordings for the film, an action that angered both actresses. Ava Gardner's voice over was performed by another actress for the film. Don't you just miss the good old days!!

Mid 1950s the actress left Hollywood, disheartened by the treatment of people of color, and directed her talents to her nightclub career. Her last appearances on film under the MGM banner was Duchess of Idaho and Meet Me in Las Vegas. Horne was blacklisted due to her political views.

After which Horne stamped her career as a top notch nightclub performer headlining all over the U.S., Canada and Europe. A live album called Lena Horne at the Waldorf-Astoria be the largest selling album by a female artist in RCA-Victor history. Lena became a regular guest of TV variety shows, Perry Como, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Judy Garland Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Bell Telephone Hour and The Andy Williams Show .

Horne's talents were featured on two television specials for the BBC and her on in the U.S. Monsanto Night Presents Lena Horne.

Ms. Horne was the mother of two. A daughter Gail (who became a best selling author Gail Lumet Buckley) and a son Edin Jones who passed away in 1970 from kidney failure.

The world will miss this beautiful sultry star, her talent and graciousness is unsurpassed.

R.I. P. Lady Horne.

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Comments 30 comments

pmccray profile image

pmccray 5 years ago from Utah Author

Thank you Ms Williams for taking the time to read and comment on my Hub.

Lena Williams 5 years ago

I love Lena Horn, I'm big fan my mother named me after her. When i was a girl i thought my name was so ugly then i discovered Lena Horn, "i'm sixties baby", then i saw how beautiful she was.I learned great appreciation for my name.Sometimes people call me Lena horn, i love it. Thanks, Lena Horn

azure_sky profile image

azure_sky 5 years ago from Somewhere on the Beach, if I am lucky :)

A wonderful tribute to a beautiful lady with a beautiful soul and voice! It doesn't get any better than Lena :) Thanks for sharing this!

pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah Author

Kevin Schofield - thanks so much for the read and comment. Sorry I took so long to respond I've been dealing with some personal demons as of late. You're so right she optimize class and strength in a difficult era.

Kevin Schofield 6 years ago

The name Lena Horne equates with sheer class. There is no one around today who comes close to her. Many thanks for a great hub and lots of great memories. Kind regards, Kev.

pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah Author

Rossimobis, Micky Dee, Always Exploring, Money Glitch, blackreign2012, WF Torpey, creativeone59 and C. Stewart: thank you all so much for your thoughtful comments they are much needed. You all are my inspiration, peace to you all.

C. Stewart profile image

C. Stewart 6 years ago

I love Lina Horne. She was such a beauty.

C. Stewart profile image

C. Stewart 6 years ago

I love Lina Horne. She was such a beauty.

creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thank you pmccray, for a sensational hub on Lena Horne, thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Lena Horne was a giant in the entertainment industry, pmccray, for decades. She had a lot of hills to climb, but she made it to the top and stayed there. She helped pave the way for many others. Your hub is a great tribute to her.

blackreign2012 profile image

blackreign2012 6 years ago

Loved this tribute to Miss Horne she will be missed. They sure don't make em like her anymore Great hub ~hugs~ A true lady like her wouldn't know how to survive in this "Whore-like society smdh

Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

Great tribute to Lena Horne and thanks so much for sharing it with us. She was one beautiful lady that was very intelligent, talented, and strong as well; all the making of a true legend. Thumbs up!:)

always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

A wonderful tribute to a beautiful lady.

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

God bless Lena Horne! Thank you Pmccray. This is a great tribute! I love her Stormy Weather!

Rossimobis profile image

Rossimobis 6 years ago from Biafra

I was reading this and had a picture of a big heart in my head...pmccray,you are such an awesome person.

pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah Author

Lady G: thank you for your time and read. Ms. Horne was truly a legend in our time.

pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah Author

Mike L: Thank you for your read and comment. Lady Horne was so much the activist and pioneer for racial equality all the time allowing us to bask in her talent.

pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah Author

mquee: I'll be 60 Monday and thank you for your read and compliment. Too many of our civil rights pioneers are quickly forgotten.

We have a generation of social butterflies who feel the past is "old", not realizing that if these pioneers had not suffered the indignites and bigotry of the past they would not be our future.

pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah Author

Sage Williams: Ms. Horne was an icon for the African American, one of the first whose star shone through regardless of the bigotry and hate of the time.

I truly appreciate your time and comment. Peace to you my friend.

pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah Author

JannyC: not corny, as you experienced her awesome talent shone through and made an impression. The mark of a true star.

Thank you JannyC for your comment. Peace to you and yours.

pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah Author

Sandyspider: Thank you for stopping in and leaving a comment. I'm glad she lived a full life and a wonderful legacy.

Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 6 years ago from West By God

She was a very beautiful, well, versed and poised lady. She will be blessing heaven with her song and beauty.

pmccray profile image

pmccray 6 years ago from Utah Author

BKCreative: what a momentus occasion to see the Lady herself on stae. While doing the research I was awestruck by her strength in a time so full of racial hatred. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment, it was much appreciated.

adrienne2 profile image

adrienne2 6 years ago from Atlanta

This is an awesome tribute to Lena Horne, an excellent article you captured and highlighted so many great moments in her life.

mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC

This is an excellent tribute to a talented and beautiful performer. Being in my 60's, I remember quite a bit about Lena Horne. You added some details that I didn't know, though. Thanks for a well written hub.

Sage Williams profile image

Sage Williams 6 years ago

What a beautiful tribute you have paid to Ms. Lena Horne. I am with Janny C, I remember her most from the muppet show as well.

Nice job,


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

Lena Horne was an elegant, beautiful and talented lady. She epitomized class.


JannyC profile image

JannyC 6 years ago

Great tribute.I knew her best when she guest starred on the muppet show. Sound corny but that's when I discovered her.

Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

Wonderful tribute to Lena Horne.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

A living legend for sure! Lena Horne was the standard of beauty but she was also super-tough. It was an honor in my youth when I was compared to her - not just looks but she was a fighter. She would pick up her fists to any man that dared to start with her. And in all those great hubs you wrote about the women being brutalized in Hollywood - well not Lena Horne.

She's from my town (Brooklyn) and also we are both June Cancers. (I always loved that) My song? When she sings about yesterday when she was young...

I saw her one woman show here in NYC on Broadway - and when Lady Horne walked on to the stage we all gasped - she was bigger than life. I was awed and nothing awes me.

And where in the world did you find that amazing photo of her at the stove? Beautiful!

Thanks for such an amazing tribute. Rated up of course and bookmarked so I can share it! Wonderful!

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