Every once in a while we love to celebrate the life and style of some truly inspirational individuals. Today we would love to share with you the iconic style of singer, dancer, actress and civil rights activist Lena Horne.Lena Horne was born in Brooklyn both sides of her family were a mixture of European American, Native American, and African American descent at the age of sixteen she joined the chorus line at The Cotton Club and became a nightclub performer before making the big move to Hollywood.
In 1943 Lena was approached to work in the movies and became the first black performer to sign a long-term contract with a major Hollywood studio. She made her debut with MGM in Panama Hattie and performed the title song of Stormy Weather based loosely on the life of Adelaide Hall.
Lena appeared in a number of MGM musicals but was never featured in a leading role because of her race and because films featuring her had to be re-edited for showing in states where theaters could not show films with black performers. As a result, most of Horne’s film appearances were stand-alone sequences that had no bearing on the rest of the film, so editing caused no disruption to the storyline; a notable exception was the all-black musical Cabin in the Sky.
Lena was continually involved with the Civil Rights movement. During World War II, when entertaining the troops for the USO, she refused to perform “for segregated audiences. The U.S. Army refused to allow integrated audiences, so she wound up putting on a show for a mixed audience of black U.S. soldiers and white German POWs. Seeing the black soldiers had been forced to sit in the back, she walked off stage and made her way to the first row where the black troops were seated and performed with the Germans behind her.
By the mid-1950s, Lena focused on her nightclub career, leaving Hollywood behind. Lena established herself as one of the premiere nightclub performers of the post-war era. She headlined at clubs and hotels throughout the U.S, Canada, and Europe, including the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles, and the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
During her spot at in New York she recorded a live album ‘Lena Horne at the Waldorf-Astoria’, becoming the biggest selling record by a female artist in the history of the RCA-Victor label.
The Fabulous Times