Lena Horne

Lena Horne

Highest Rated: 100% That's Entertainment! III (1994)

Lowest Rated: 20% Words and Music (1948)

Birthday: Jun 30, 1917

Birthplace: Not Available

The daughter of an actress and civil rights activist, African-American entertainer Lena Horne was a chorus girl in Harlem's Cotton Club at the age of 16. One year later, she had her first featured role -- as Quadroon Girl -- in the Broadway play Dance With Your Gods. Lena then went on to work as a dancer and singer for Noble Sissles's orchestra, gaining popularity with both black and white audiences, though in keeping with the racial status quo of the '30s, she was denied entrance to all-white facilities and hotels in most of the cities where she headlined on stage. Following her film in The Duke is Tops (1939), Lena was signed as a specialty performer by MGM Studios. In most of her film appearances, Lena would sing in a sequence separate from the plotline and her white costars, so that her scenes could be edited out when shown in certain Southern theatres. She managed to survive on these terms and even won leading roles in two major-studio feature films, Cabin in the Sky (1943) and Stormy Weather (1943) - both of which had all-black casts. Hollywood's attitude towards African-Americans in the '40s was slightly better than in the '30s, but producers still treaded very slowly and cautiously: Lena was allowed romantic interests in her two starring films, but her leading men were middle-aged comedians and dancers like Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Dooley Wilson, and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, so as not to offend those white viewers who felt threatened by handsome black men. Additionally, Lena was allowed to be sexy but not too sexy, lest she arouse dreams of miscegenation in the minds of impressionable white males; her most erotic scene in Cabin in the Sky, wherein she was discreetly "nude" in a bubble bath (the bubbles providing censor-proof camouflage) was removed from the film, not to be seen in public until shown in the 1994 compilation That's Still Entertainment. Idiotic corporate decisions like this only intensified Lena's mistrust of white men, an attitude drummed into her by her mother; yet privately she managed to find lasting happiness as the wife of white musician Lennie Hayton. Lena's career suffered in the '50s, when she had difficulty securing TV work not only because of her race but also because of her friendship with Paul Robeson, the famed black singer who'd embraced Communism. Eventually talent won out over ideology, and Lena starred on Broadway in Jamaka in 1957, following this personal triumph with numerous media and live performances. Still, Lena and her husband found a more hospitable reception when they travelled to France, a country where a mixed marriage did not automatically result in rude stares and snide newspaper commentary. In 1969, Horne returned to films in Death of a Gunfighter, where thanks to relaxed racial tensions she was able to play the former lover of white sheriff Richard Widmark. Still beautiful and in terrific voice, Horne went strong into the '90s, attaining the rare status of Living Legend. She died in 2010 at the age of 92.

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Let's Hear It for the Girls! Actor 2006
No Score Yet Sarah Vaughan & Other Jazz Divas Actor 2005
No Score Yet Judy Garland - Judy Duets Actor 2005
No Score Yet Jazz Legends: Boogie Woogie Actor 2004
No Score Yet Harlem Renaissance Actor 2004
No Score Yet The Incomparable Lena Horne Actor 2004
No Score Yet Lena Horne - The Incomparable Lena Horne Actor 2004
No Score Yet Sarah Vaughan & Friends - Swing Era Actor 2004
No Score Yet The Great American Songbook Actor 2003
No Score Yet Harold Arlen: Somewhere over the Rainbow Actor 1999
100% That's Entertainment! III Host 1994
No Score Yet Benny Carter: Symphony in Riffs Actor 1989
No Score Yet Ladies Sing the Blues Actor 1988
No Score Yet Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music on Broadway Actor 1984
42% The Wiz Glinda 1978
No Score Yet Death of a Gunfighter Claire Quintana 1969
No Score Yet Now Actor 1965
No Score Yet The All-Star Christmas Show (Bing Crosby - Bing Crosby's White Christmas USO All Star Show) Actor 1958
No Score Yet Meet Me in Las Vegas Actor 1956
No Score Yet Duchess of Idaho Guest Star 1950
20% Words and Music Herself 1948
100% Till the Clouds Roll By Julie 1947
67% Ziegfeld Follies Herself 1946
No Score Yet Two Girls and a Sailor Herself 1944
No Score Yet Broadway Rhythm Fernway de la Fer 1944
No Score Yet Swing Fever Herself 1943
No Score Yet Thousands Cheer Herself 1943
No Score Yet Stormy Weather Selina Rogers 1943
85% Cabin in the Sky Georgia Brown 1943
No Score Yet I Dood It Herself 1943
No Score Yet Panama Hattie Herself - Singer in Phil's Place 1942
60% The Duke Is Tops Ethel Andrews 1938


No Score Yet A Different World
Herself 1988
No Score Yet The Cosby Show
Herself 1985
100% The Muppet Show
Guest 1976
No Score Yet Sanford and Son
Herself 1975
No Score Yet The Flip Wilson Show
Guest 1974
No Score Yet Great Performances


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