Who is the most beautiful African American actress
First black Hollywood actress is dead
The artist was best known for her musical roles on Broadway. She became the first black actress to sign a long-term contract with a major Hollywood studio.
MGM had signed the fair-skinned African-American for seven years in the 1940s. She was seen in the musicals "Cabin in the Sky", "Stormy Weather" and "Ziegfeld Follies", among others. A groundbreaking success for black actors, who at most got extra roles at the time.
Horne himself saw the whole thing more soberly: she was put into one musical film after another to sing a song or two that could later be easily cut out for performances in the conservative south. "The only time I ever said a word to a white actor was with Kathryn Grayson on a small part of Show Boat," Horne recalled in a 1990 interview. At the time she played Julie, a black woman who was persecuted for marrying a white man.
Gallery: Lena Horne in the film
In a MGM remake in the 50s, the role was then played by a white actress whose vocals came off the tape. Although Horne was no longer under contract with the studio at the time, she was never seriously considered for the role, according to Hornes biographer James Gavin in his book "Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne".
Lena Hornes' career began at the age of 16 when she appeared in the Cotton Club, a jazz club in the New York borough of Harlem - in front of an all-white audience. She played her first film role in "Panama Hattie" from 1942. In it she sang Cole Porter's "Just One Of Those Things". The US film critic Pauline Kael later wrote of the film: "A big disappointment, but Lena Horne is gorgeous and when she sings it's easy to forget the rest of the film."
During the Second World War, the avowed civil rights activist caused a stir when she refused to sing in front of separate audiences or at events at which German prisoners of war were allowed to sit in front of black soldiers.
Lena Horne received several Grammy Awards, including the best jazz singer in 1996. In 1989 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award for her life's work. But the great Hollywood success did not materialize. She was married to the conductor and pianist Lennie Hayton and has a daughter.
Philipp P. Lion
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