Iconic actress, activist, and singer Lena Horne, who battled racial politics and bigotry from Hollywood, Broadway, D.C., and beyond, died in New York tonight, the New York Times Reports. The legendary performer was 92.
Horne entertained and inspired at least five generations over the past century, including on numerous Broadway stages from her lauded role in 1957’s Jamaica to her Tony Award-winning one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, in 1981. That was all preceded, however, as Aljean Harmetz notes, by Horne being the first African-American performer to sign a long-term contract by a major Hollywood studio (MGM). All that without even approaching the subject of Horne’s inimitable career in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, primarily as a jazz singer.
I’ve been reading through a host of wonderful tributes, posts, and news articles about Horne since this sad news dropped late tonight (more are sure to come), but Best Week Ever’s Michelle Collins’ post nicely noted my generation’s most immediate memory of Horne:
If you’re around my age, anywhere in your 20s, you probably remember Lena from her appearances on The Muppet Show, The Cosby Show, A Different World, and, perhaps like myself, most vividly from Sesame Street.