In an alternate universe, Lena Horne would have been a huge movie star, a glamour goddess on a par with contemporaries like Rita Hayworth or Ava Gardner. In ours, however, she remains an elusive image, a woman whose voice made her an icon but whose face was all but invisible. Horne, who died Sunday at 92, enjoyed a seven-decade career in show business, but as an embodiment of the changing face of America over the last century, she was granted only a few shimmering but indelible moments on screen.

Horne was in show business from age 16, rising to prominence as a dancer/singer at Harlem's famed Cotton Club in the 1930s. Broadway and Hollywood followed. Horne reached a career peak in 1943 as the star of two acclaimed movie musicals with all-black casts: 'Cabin in the Sky' and 'Stormy Weather,' named for the tune that became her career signature tune. It's one of the saddest of ballads from the classic American songbook, yet Horne was nobody's victim. She always seemed to carry herself with pride, determination, grace, and a regal hauteur.
categories Features