Monday, May 10, 2010

RIP Lena Horne

Actress, singer and activist Lena Horne has passed away at the age of 93 at a hospital in New York. Horne's career spanned over 60 years and seen her not only become one of the greatest screen, stage and record singers but also a major campaigner for the civil rights movement. Horne broke down numerous racial barriers throughout her career, making history by becoming Hollywood's first black sex symbol, she was also one of the first black singers with a major white band, the first to perform at the famous Copacabana nightclub and also and the first to sign a long-term Hollywood contract. Horne had a hugely successful professional life, but her personal life was more rocky. Her first marriage, aged 19, produced two children one of which died at 29. Her second marriage to her white conductor and bandleader Lennie Hayton, also ended in separation; Horne was once quoted as saying she married Hayton to help her career as  "he could get me into places no black manager could". Lena was linked to numerous men throughout the years but her one true, lasting, relationship was with openly gay Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington's arranger and pianist.


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