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Lena Horne photo

Stage Name

Birth Name

Lena Horne Lena Mary Calhoun Horne

   She grew up in an upper-middle-class black community of a multigenerational family. She was raised in the Hill District community of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is reportedly a descendant of the John C. Calhoun family. Lena Horne left home at the age of thirteen and started her professional career dancing in the chorus at the Cotton Club in Harlem New York at sixteen years of age. A few years later she joined and toured with Noble Sissle's Orchestra. Lena's first movie role was "The Duke Is Tops" with Duke Ellington ( Also of the Cotton Club.)

   Lena was plagued by racism by the management of the places she performed, at times Lena would rebel at the treatment she received. Despite this, Lena would become a legend among Stars and open the way for many performers who were to followed her. Lena is said to be the first African American signed to a long-term studio (MGM) contract (Jeni Legon claims this as well) with the stipulation that she not have to play any demeaning, stereotypical roles – she would never be forced to play any maid or mammy roles. However, Lena did not get many acting roles because of this, which is a shame. She only made 13 films while at MGM, most being cameo's but while there she did managae to make two important African-American classic movies – “Stormy Weather” and “Cabin in the Sky.”

Lena Horne Autograph
More Photos

   She performed in New York nightclubs, on Broadway, and toured with the Charlie Barnet Orchestra as well as becoming a movie actress and would become the highest paid black actor in the country. In 1947, Horne married for the second time, to composer Lennie Hayton, a white man, and the two moved to Paris, where at the time, interracial marriages were more accepted.

   By the mid-1950s, Horne was disenchanted with the Hollywood film industry and increasingly focused on her nightclub career. After leaving Hollywood, Horne established herself as one of the premiere nightclub performers of the post-war era. She headlined at many prominent clubs and hotels throughout the US, Canada and Europe, including the Sands Hotel, the Cocoanut Grove and the Waldorf-Astoria.

   Lena was also a political activist, speaker and civil rights defender, working to Combat racial discrimination in America.. She also helped to push the movie industry further along in the making of a more positive portrayal of African-Americans on the big screen. For a brief period in the 1950's she was blacklisted in Hollywood for her efforts, ( As well as her association with Paul Robeson) and was not offered any movie contracts, except for two. Horne was able to eventually get herself removed from the Blacklist

but took her almost ten years to get her name removed. She was at the March on Washington and spoke and performed in behalf of the NAACP, SNCC and the National Council of Negro Women. She is also noted as working with then president Roosevelt's wife Eleanor Roosevelt to help pass anti-lynching laws.

   In 1958, Horne was nominated for a Tony Award for "Best Actress in a Musical" (for her part in the "Calypso" musical Jamaica) and in 1981, won a Tony award, and two Grammy Awards for the cast recording of her show Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music. In 1989, she received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sang in one of Television's more popular commercials in 1997 ... for The Gap Jeans commercial.

Birth Place

Birth Date



Brooklyn, NY 6/30/1917 Lennie Hayton (1947) Gail Lumet Buckley (1937)
    Louis Jordan Jones (1937) Edwin (1940)

Dance Types

Dance Partners, etc.

Music Titles

Ballroom Bill Robinson Ain't it the Truth
Chorus Dancer Ricardo Montalban Black Coffee
Jazz Rubberneck Holmes Boogie Woogie Dream
Jitterbug       Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man of Mine
        Girl From Impanema (1965)
        Honeysuckle Rose
        I Didn't Know About You (1944)
        Lady Is A Tramp
        My Blue Heaven
        St. Louis Blues (1942)
        $ Stormy Weather
        $ 1957 - LH at the Waldorf Astoria
        $ Best Of Lena ... Org Recordings
        Sinatra's "Duets II" Album

Night Clubs



Cafe Society (1941) Imperial Theater 1934 - Dance with your Gods
Carioca night club (Brazil) Glasgow Empire Theatre 1936 - Blackbirds
Carnegie Hall Nederlander Theatre (1981) 1957 - Jamaica
Copacabana       1957 - Tony and Lena Sing
Cotton Club       1981 - The Lady and Her Music
Little Troc, the (CA. 1940s)      
Savoy Ballroom      
Savoy Hotel      
Supper Club (NY)      
Trocadero Club      




193? - Bipp Bang Boogie A Different World 6/1943 - Song Parade
1938 - The Duke is Tops Andy Williams Show 1/1944 - Coronet Mag
1940 - Harlem on Parade Bell Telephone Hour 9/1944 - Photoplay Magazine
$1941 - Panama Hattie Cosby Show (1985) 1945 - Life Magazine
1942 - Boogie Woogie Dream Dean Martin Show 2/12/1945 - PM Newspaper
1942 - G.I. Jubilee (GDW) Ed Sullivan Show 10/18/1948 - Life Magazine
1942 - Panama Hattie Flip Wilson Show 9/1952 - Esquire Magazine
1943 - Cabin in the Sky Gap Jeans Commercial (1997) 1/8/1954 - Quick Mag
1943 - I Dood It Harry & Lena (Harry Belefonti, 1970) 1/1955 - Variety Magazine
$1943 - Stormy Weather Hollywood Palace, the 1/8/1955 - Quick Mag
1943 - Thousands Cheer Muppet Show, the (1970's) 6/1955 - Down Beat Magazine
1944 - Boogie Woogie Dream Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall 11/26/1955 - Quick Mag
$1944 - Broadway Rhythm Rosie O'Donnel Show (1997, 1998) 3/1970 - TV Guide Magazine
1944 - Hi-De-Ho Holiday Sanford and Son (1970's) 8/1977 - Esquire Magazine
1944 - My New Gown Tony and Lena (Tony Bennett, 1973) 1990's - Essence Magazine
$1944 - Two Girls and a Sailor USO All Star Xmas (1958) $ Lena by Lena (bio)
1945 - Harlem Hot Shots       $ Lena by James Haskins
1946 - Jivin' the Blues     $ Lena ... Melrose Sq
1946 - Mantan Messes Up     $ Lena, Black Entertainer
$1946 - Till the Clouds Roll By     The Hornes (Gail Lumet Buckley, Family Bio)
$1945 - Ziegfeld Follies      
$1948 - Till the Clouds Roll By      

Lena Posters

$1950 - The Duchess of Idaho       Lena Horne Poster
Lena Horne
$ Poster At
$1956 - Meet Me in Las Vegas      
1969 - Death of a Gun Fighter      
$1974 - That's Entertainment      
$1978 - The Wiz!      
$1984 - The Lady Sings the Blues      
$1994 - An Evening w/ Lena      
$1994 - That's Entertainment III       Lena Horne
$1999 - It's Black Entertainment            
$ That's Black Entertainment            


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