Lena Horne

Found Romance and Children In Pittsburgh on Her Way to Super Stardom

Lena Horne was an historic entertainer who broke down racial barriers.  She was the first African American women to tour with an all-white swing band in 1936 and the first to sign a major movie contract in 1941. Lena was a singer, recording artist, night club star, film actress, and Broadway star who fought for civil rights. She came to international attention with her signature performance of the song “Stormy Weather” in 1943 film “Stormy Weather.  Lena captured hearts with her great beauty, poise, and sultry sophisticated singing.  Her talents won her eight Grammy awards, two Tony Awards, and national honors from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

After starting her career at age 16 in the chorus line of the famed Cotton club she became a big band singer touring the country with the Nobble Sissle and Charlie Barnet bands.  She also performed and recorded with Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington Teddy Wilson, Benny Carter, Billy Strayhorn, Billy Eckstine, and many others.  Signed to MGM Studios in 1941 she became a glamorous Hollywood movie star appearing in 16 feature films. 

In the 1950s Horne became a top night club performer and recording artist.  Her extensive recording career includes over 40 albums and 26 singles on RCA, United Artists, Capitol, and several other labels,  Six of her albums reached the Top 20 on the Jazz charts including the number 1 album “We’ll Be Together Again” in 1994.  Her one hit single “Love Me or Leave Me” reached #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1955.  Her 1957 live album "Lena Horne at the Waldorf Astoria", which reached #24 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart, became the best selling record by a female artist in the history of the RCA-Victor.  Lena won eight Grammy awards including a Lifetime Achievement award in 1989. 

Lena appeared frequently on television variety shows including Ed Sulivan, Perry Como, Dean Martin, Andy Williams, Flip Wilson, Hollywood Palace and the Muppets.  On Broadway she starred the 1957 production of Jamaica and the 1981 Tony-winning show, "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music”. 

But with all of her ground breaking success Lena Horne struggled against the indignity of racial discrimination throughout her career. At the Cotton Club she was not allowed to use the Whites only entrance and or any of the bathrooms. The black performers were only permitted to relieve themselves in a basin.  Her feet throbbed from ill fitting shoes as African Americans were barred from trying on footwear at shoe stores.  During the big band era she was allowed to entertain white audiences, but she was not permitted to socialize with them, stay in their hotels, or eat in their restaurants.  In her contract with MGM she refused to be cast as a stereotypic domestic servant.  But MGM only gave her cameo music roles in its films fearing a backlash from the racist South.  Lena’s scenes were cut out and her name was blacked out of advertisements when movies featuring her were shown in the South.  While she was visiting soldiers on a WWII USO tour Lena was refused a cup of coffee at a dinner, but was asked to sign autographs before they threw her out.  McCarthy Era witch hunters black listed Lena during the late 1950s for her association with civil rights organizations. She fled to Europe to perform and live. Fighting against discrimination in the 1960s she marched with Medgar Evers and Dr. Martin Luther King and spoke at many rallies. She faced constant pressure from the NAACP to uphold their high standards.  Despite all of those struggles she persevered.  For her efforts she was awarded the NAACP's highest honor, the Spingarn Medal, in 1983.

"Lena Horne represented the first real breakthrough where blacks were acknowledged as beautiful. All the previous stereotypes and images were negative caricatures. She caused white Americans to sit up and take notice. -Laurence Glasco, University of Pittsburgh historian.

"One of our nation's most cherished entertainers” who “warmed the hearts of countless Americans with her beautiful voice and dramatic performances on screen" and "worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality.”  President Barack Obama

Honored by the Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame

Although she was not born or raised in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Jazz Society in 1990 elected Lena Horne as one the first members of its Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame.  Lena, connected to Pittsburgh by her father, lived in the city from 1937 to 1940.  During her four year residence she married a Pittsburgher, bore two children, and sang at private parties and clubs.  An up and coming national celebrity when she came to Pittsburgh at the end of 1936, historian John M. Brewer Jr said that  "She was without a doubt the queen in Pittsburgh”.  The Pittsburgh Courier followed her every move and promoted her career.  Everyone who met her in Pittsburgh loved her saying she was down to earth.  Her other connection to Pittsburgh was through her musical mentor and lifelong friend and soul mate Pittsburgher Billy Strayhorn.

A Chaotic Childhood

Lena Calhoun Horne was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn on June 30, 1917.  She was born into a prominent political family of mixed African American, European, and Native American ancestry. She came from an educated middle class background. Her mother’s father had been the first African-American member of the Brooklyn Board of Education.  Her paternal grandmother Cora Horne was an active member of the National Urban League and the NAACP.  Lena’s parents separated in 1920 when she was three.  Her father Edwin Fletcher "Teddy" Horne, Jr., after living for a time in Seattle, remarried and settled in Pittsburgh where he became a hotel owner and Hill District gambling kingpin.  He had money, fine clothes, and fancy cars.  Lena’s, mother an aspiring actress, joined a touring acting troop and left Lena with Teddy’s mother.  

The stern and proper Cora Horne raised Lena until she was seven teaching her to act with middle class ladylike dignity in speech and manors. She involved Lena in social causes early enrolling her in the NCAAP at age two.  

Edna returned to Brooklyn to reclaim Lena and took her on the road in search of acting jobs. Lena spent her childhood moving town to town in Florida, Georgia, and other southern states. Edna abandoned Lena many times for months at a time leaving Lena with relatives, friends, and foster care givers.  Her father Ted would visit on occasion showering her with expensive gifts.  In 1929 her mother sent her back to Cora in Brooklyn where she attended junior high and an integrated all-girls public high school.  Dreaming of being an actress Lena took dancing lessons and starred in amateur plays in Brooklyn.

Cotton Club Chorine

Lena's mother Edna returned to Brooklyn with a new Cuban husband and took Lena back when her grandmother Cora died.  Hit hard by the Depression both Lena’s mother and her stepfather were out of work.  Lena offered to quit school to get a job to help support her family.  In 1933 Edna contacted her friend Elida Web, the dance captain of the famed Cotton Club.  She asked if her daughter could audition as a dancer. At age 16 Lena auditioned for and won one of the two openings in the chorus line.  She danced in numbers behind headliners Cab Calloway, Adelaide Hall, and Ethel Waters.  Only a few weeks after her start Lena was given the chance to sing a solo when one of the Cotton Club stars became ill.  After that opportunity she was given more featured roles including singing in place of Cab Calloway went he was off on tour. In 1934 Lena moved from the chorus line to a billed showgirl when the Cotton Club gave Lena an 8 bar part singing the bridge of the song “As Long As I Live”.  Newspaper columnists Walter Winchel and Ed Sullivan taken by her beauty hailed her in their nationwide columns.  Lena was seen by movie goers around the world when news real clips of Cotton Club were shown in theaters.  

After seeing Lena at the Cotton Club in 1935 Broadway producer Laurence Schwab hired Lena.  Lena appeared as a voodoo dancer on Broadway in Schwab’s production of “Dance With Your Gods” that folded after 9 shows. Seeing her at the Cotton Club and on Broadway, the Pittsburgh Courier’s entertainment correspondent Billy Rowe began touting her in the nationally distributed newspaper.  Lena took more of a starring role in the 1935 season of the Cotton Club performing in several numbers.  Billy Rowe suggested to Lena that it was time for her to move on to bigger things.  Horne quit the Cotton Club in December of 1936. 

Big Band Singer

In January of 1936 at age 18 Lena auditioned for and was hired as a singer for Nobble Sissle’s big band. Sissle taught her how to sing and how to present herself on stage.  She went on tour with Sissle’s orchestra billed as Helana Horne.  Her mother Edna and her stepfather travel with her.  In March of 1936 Lena made her first recordings wtith Sissle’s Orchestra  releasing two songs on Decca Records "That's What Love Did to Me" and "I Take to You,"  In June of 1936 recovering from a serious car accident Nobble Sissle was unable to lead his band. Lena filled in for several shows fronting the band as its director and singer.  The Pittsburgh Courier raved about her performance writing she “took the patrons by storm…She is widely acclaimed as the new hit personality”.  Horne made her first appearance in Pittsburgh in July of 1936 performing with Nobble Sissle at the Savoy Ballroom.  Her fame grew with her appearances, recordings and her glamour girl photos that were published in newspapers and magazines.  Her photos were also widely seen in print advertisements. 

Deserted the Footlights for Family Life in Pittsburgh

Lena’s mother was very protective of her daughter shooing away the many would be suitors attracted to the beautiful young woman.  Feeling smothered Lena got into a big fight with her mother.  She turned to her father Ted for support.  At Christmas time in 1936 Ted drove to Cleveland, where Lena was appearing with the Sissle Orchestra.  He picked her up and drove her to his home in Pittsburgh at the Belmont Hotel that he co-owned with his numbers racket business partner Gus Greenlee.  Ted did not approve of Lena’s show business career.  He wanted her to settle down.

In December of 1936 Ted Horne introduced Lena to his friend the suave handsome 28 year old gentleman Louis Jordan Jones.   Louis, the son of a Baptist minister and the brother of a Pittsburgh city councilmen, was an aspiring politician. Smitten by Jones’s charm and manners it was a whirl wind courtship for Lena.  Jones proposed to Lena only three weeks after they met. Freed from her mother’s controlling ways the love-struck Lena accepted his proposal. They applied for a marrage license on January 16 of 1937 and were married that month.  The Pittsburgh Courier announced the marriage in bold headlines on Jan 23, 1937 "Love at First Sight Ends At Altar - Pretty Lena Horne Banishes Career for Love and Home.-New York's Prettiest Star Star Deserted Footlights for Love --She's Satisfied".  

The newlyweds moved into Jone’s house on 2709 Brakenridge avenue in the Pittsburgh Herron Hill neighborhood.  Lena told the Pittsburgh Courier that she was in love and was retiring from show business to settle down to raise a family. 

Louis Jordan was working in publicity for the Cleveland Indians when he met Lena.  Using his political connections as a member of the young Democrats he took a low paying job as a clerk at County Corner’s office.  Even though he was college educated he was offered only menial jobs becoming a victim of racism.  The new Jones family struggled.financially.  Reared by her aspiring actress mother and her prosperous grandmother Lena never learned to cook or clean.  They had a difficult home life.  Biographers say that Lena quickly became disillusioned with marriage and Louis’s grumpy demeanor.  But they had an active social life in the Hill District community.  Louis joined the exclusive Loendi Club where Lena sang for free in July of 1937. 

First Movie Role

In March 1937 the Pittsburgh Courier announced that Lena was expecting.  Lena gave birth to her first child Gail on December 21, 1937.  Lena received an unexpected call from a theatrical agent in February of 1938.  Actor Ralph Cooper wanted Lena to co-star with him in a low budget all-black movie musical called the “Duke Is Tops”.  He offered her $600 for the part.  With her daughter only six weeks old Lena flew to Hollywood in February of 1938 for a ten-day shoot.  She returned to Pittsburgh before the end of the month.  The Pittsburgh Courier announced that a gala premier of the movie would be held in Pittsburgh in June of 1938 at the New Granada Theater to benefit the NAACP.  Pittsburgher Lena Horne would be the guest of honor.  Angered that movie producers shorted Lena on her promised salary when they ran out of cash, Louis Jones demanded a fee for Lena’s appearance at the premiere.  The fee was not provided.  Lena was a no show at the premiere.  The Pittsburgh Courier, in a story headlined Lena Horne Snubs Movie, scolded Lena: "Never before in the history of the theatre has a star refused to attend her own premiere". 

To earn extra money for the home Lena sang at private parties in the mansions of wealthy Pittsburgh aristocrats like the Mellons.  Some sources claim that Lena may have sang at the Gus Greenlee’s Crawford Grill, the Savoy Ballroom, and the Bambola Social lub.  She may have been asked to come on stage to sing with Billy Eckstein and other performers while attending those venues with her father and husband.  Lena may have also socialized with Duke Ellington other jazzman while visiting her father at his hotel.  Banned from downtown hotels many famous touring African American jazz musicians stayed at the her father's Belmont Hotel located on Wyle Avenue in the Hill District.  Ted Horne was doing very well financially as the banker for Gus Greenlee’s numbers racket, as a part owner of the Crawfords baseball team and as the owner of the Belmont Hotel and a restaurant. 

In the Fall of 1938 a New York friend of Lena’s recommended her to Broadway producer Lew Leslie.  Lew called Lena in Pittsburgh asking her to come to New York to audition for a leading role.  She won the role in the all black comedy the Blackbirds in which she was to perform three songs. Lena took the role in hopes of becoming a star and to pay off her husband's debt.  She wanted Jones quit his job to become her manager.  Leaving her daughter behind with Louis Lena spent months away at rehearsals in New York and out of town tryouts.  Jones argued with his stage stuck wife over the phone about deserting her family.  Blackbirds opened on Broadway in February of 1939.  Louis attended the opening and returned to Pittsburgh thinking the show was a flop.  Blackbirds closed after only 9 performances. But Lena received favorable notice in the press.  Brooks Atkinson, the New York Times reviewer, wrote of Lena "A radiantly beautiful sepia girl…who will be a winner when she has proper direction."

Lena returned to Pittsburgh dejected.  Louis Jones quit his job and borrowed money to run for political office.  Lena opposed his risky career move and they fought.  She considered leaving Louis but in May of 1939 she learned she was pregnant.  Her son Edwin Fletcher "Teddy" Jones was born in February of 1940.  Losing his election Louis dreams were dashed and money problems plagued the marriage.  Louis disapproved of Horne's career and the time that she was spending apart from her family.  On August 2, Lena left Louis, gave her two children to a neighbor, and took a train to New York to look for work in show business.   Lena’s first marriage and her stay in Pittsburgh was over. 

Louis Jones and Lena Horne counter sued each other for divorce and fought for custody of the children.  They divorced in 1944 with Lena getting custody of Gail and Louis getting custody of Ted.   Louis and Ted lived in Columbus for a few years before setting in Los Angeles.  Lena’s father Ted moved to California when she bought him a hotel.  Lena returned to Pittsburgh for only a few performances during her career.  After 1940 for Lena Pittsburgh was just another quick stop on the tour.

Advancing from Big Band Singer to Night Club Star

Lena struggled for four months in late 1940 unable to find a singing or dancing job in New York.  In December of 1940 a friend learned that band leader Charlie Barnet was in immediate need of a replacement vocalist and recommend Lena to him.  Lena sang with Barnet's band that night.  Proving her talent after a few more shows, Barnet signed her to a six month contract at $125 a week.  She became the first female African american to sing with an all-white band.  But she faced racist treatment from all sides.  Her family and the NAACP were not pleased saying a black woman should not sing with a white band.  On the road she faced discrimination from whites.  They stared at her and made racial slurs as she sang.  She was not allowed to appear on stage when not singing,  She was refused service at restaurants and hotels. Lena often sat alone on the band bus eating take out food that band members bought her. To get her a hotel room Barnet passed her off as a Cuban.  Barnet paid her to stay home when his did appearances in the hostile South.  Despite these indignities Lena toured and recorded with Barnet.  She appeared on several Barnet recordings that were released in January of 1941 including the song "Good For Nothin' Joe".  She toured with Barnet’s band until April of 1941.

Gaining custody of her daughter Gail Lena found a ten month engagement for $75 a week in New York singing at the integrated Café Society club in Greenwich Village.  There she was backed by pianist Teddy Wilson who coached her in singing.  She also became a regular performer on the NBC radio program Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street. During this time she recorded as a vocalist with Artie Shaw, Teddy Wilson, and the Henry Levine & the Dixieland Jazz Group.  "Prisoner of Love" is a delightful tune with Teddy Wilson and Lena recorded in 1941.

Meeting Strayhorn and Becoming a Hollywood Movie Star

In September of 1941 night club owner Felix Young offered Lena Horne a singing job at a new club that he was opening in Los Angeles.  Her father Ted lent her money to travel to California and rent a home.  She took Gail and moved to Los Angeles in October of 1941, but she waited for    six months for the club to be built.  In November of 1941 Duke Ellington was working in LA and sent his friend Lena a ticket for a show at the Mayan Theater.  Ellington told his arranger Pittsburgher Billy Strayhorn to keep an eye on Lena.   Strayhorn introduced himself to Lena and sat with her at the show.  They quickly became life long friends.  

According the the Strayhorn biography “Lush Life” Billy spent weeks mentoring Lena guiding her in picking a repertoire, rehearsing songs, and refining her singing style.  He taught her classical music techniques that he had learned back in Pittsburgh from his mentors Carl McVicker and Charles Boyd.  He took her to important auditions accompanying her on piano. In Lush Life Horne credited Billy Strayhorn as her main influence saying: “I wasn’t born a singer. I had to learn a lot. Billy rehearsed me. He stretched me vocally.  He “taught me the basics of music, because I didn’t know anything.”  Strayhorn’s work with Lena paid off. In December of 1941 Lena recorded eight songs for her first solo album, “Moanin' Low” that was released on RCA.  It included her signature songs "Stormy Weather" and ""The Man I Love"”.  Lena fell in love with Strayhorn but a romance was not to be as Billy was gay.

The Little Troc club finally opened in January of 1942 with Lena Horne as a headliner.  Singing “Stormy Weather” and “The Man I Love” she attracted attention from the Hollywood film studios.  MGM musical director Roger Edens invited her to audition after hearing her at Little Troc.  Two weeks after she started at Little Troc Lena sang for Alan Freed and the head of MGM the legendary Louie B. Mayer.  That night Lena called her father Ted in Pittsburgh telling him she needed his help.  MGM was offering her a movie contact.  Ted flew to LA arriving the next day.  Her father negotiated with Mayer and Freed stipulating that Lena was not to play maids or jungle maidens.  He told Mayer “I can buy my daughter her own maid.”  

On January 31, 1942 the Pittsburgh Courier announced the MGM signed Lena Horne was to appear in the musical Panama Hatties.  Thus Lena Horne became the first black performer to sign a long-term contract with a major Hollywood studio.  She was put under contact paying her a weekly salary of $350.  With the assistance of Walter White of the NAACP and Paul Robeson her contract stipulated that she would sing and play legitimate roles.  She would not play the demeaning stereotypic roles of a cook or maid speaking in thick dialect. She was to play a well educated well-bred bright beautiful young woman. This upset the established African American actors who feared that they would lose work if the stereotyped roles were eliminated.  The hope for the NAACP was that Lena Horne would change the way whites perceived African Americans.

Those hope that Lena Horne would be an accepted leading lady quickly faded.  When Lean reported for her first movie role the white make-up artists refused to work with her. Lena had to bring in her own make-up person. Saying that her color was not dark enough MGM hired Max Factor to create the "Light Egyptian" makeup and forced her wear it to appear darker on the screen.  Though she did not play demeaning roles, MGM gave her only one starring role in the 1943 all-black musical “Cabin in the Sky”. The rest of her roles were cameo parts singing roles in MGM musicals.  Appearing in 14 MGM musicals she was denied a speaking part. In the remaining films she sang one or two songs in stand-alone scenes that could be edited out for Southern audiences without damaging the story line.  She was never allowed to speak to or touch a white actor.  The worse insult was when MGM used the non singing Ava Garner covered in the darkening "Light Egyptian" make-up to play a mixed race character in the musical Showboat.  Racist white audiences were not ready to see an African American actress play love scenes with a white actor.

Lena Horne’s career zoomed in Hollywood.  She made her first major MGM film appearance in Panama Hattie (1942).  Appearing in the all-black musical Cabin in the Sky with Duke Ellington and Ethel Waters in 1943, she had her only lead role.  Lent to 20th Century Fox she became a national sensation in 1943 when she sang the title song in all-black movie “Stormy Weather”.  She graced the pages of Time, Life, and Newsweek simultaneously in one week.   By 1945 Lena Horne had became the highest paid African American entertainer earning $1,000 a week from MGM, $1,500 per radio appearance, and $6,500 a week at nightclubs.  But MGM treated her with token roles.  She was the only African American performer in the Thousands Cheer (1943) and Till the Clouds Roll By (1946).   Lena was given only cameo singing roles in the rest of her MGM films including Swing Fever (1943), Boogie-Woogie Dream (1944), Two Girlsand a Sailor (1944), Broadway Rhythm (1944), Ziegfeld Follies (1946), Words andMusic (1948), Some of the Best (1949), Duchess of Idaho (1950) and Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956). 

While working for MGM she continued to record and perform.  Lena returned to Pittsburgh in 1944 to headline at the Stanley Theater with George Auld and his Orchestra.  The Loendi Club club welcomed her home with a reception to honor her and Billy Eckstine.  During 1945 to 1946 Horne made appearances with Billy Eckstine's Orchestra. 

Entertaining the Troops in World War II

During World War II Lena was very popular with both African American and white servicemen.  She made dozens of appearances on the Armed Forces Radio programs “Command Performance”, Jubilee, G.I. and Mail Call.   Lena also performed live for the troops on several USO tours.  She became the pin-up girl for African Americans soldiers.  But she became upset with the unequal treatment of black servicemen.  Appearing at a base in Arkansas she became upset when African American soldier were barred from her concert.  She demanded a second show be held for them.  At the second show she saw German prisoners of war seated in front of the black soldiers who were forced to sit in the back.  She walked out of the show in protest when they were.  She quit the USO tours.  She continued to perform for troops in the West and South paying her own way.  She made many visits with the Tuskegee Airmen at their training base in Alabama.

Roscoe Brown Jr., who commanded the Tuskegee air squadron, spoke at Lena's memorial service saying: "This wonderful, beautiful lady, Lena Horne, came to visit us. She sang, she talked with us and she made us all her boyfriends. The men took her picture and put it on our barracks, on our planes, and she became our pinup girl." 

Second Marriage

Working at MGM Lena met and fell in love with Lennie Hayton, an MGM conductor and arranger of Jewish descent.  They wanted to wed but interracial marriages were illegal in California and 30 other states.  Fearing a racist outrage, Lena and Hayton married secretly in Paris in 1947 and kept their marriage secret for three years.  Hayton became her conductor, arranger, pianist, mixologist.  She remained married to Lennie until his death in 1971.

Night Club, Television, Recording, and Broadway Career

Tired of playing cameo roles Lena ended her contract with MGM in 1956.  She became a popular nightclub singer and television star in the late 1950s and 1960s.  She was a high paid major attraction at the Sands in Los Vegas, the Copacabana, the Coconut Grove, the Waldorf Astoria and many other top nightclubs. Her 1957 live album “Lena Horne at the Waldorf-Astoria” was one of the biggest selling records by a female artist for the RCA-Victor label.  Returning to Broadway in 1957 she starred in the hit Broadway music Jamaica and earned a Tony nomination.   

Lena made frequent television appearances on Your Show of Shows, Ed Sullivan, Perry Como, DeanMartin, Flip Wilson, Andy Williams, Judy Garland, and other television shows. Her prime time television specials with Harry Belafonte and Tony Bennett earned her several Emmy nominations. In the 1970s through the 1990s she appeared on the Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Sanford and Son, TThe Cosby Show and A Different World.  Horne also performed frequently in Europe in major concerts and on several BBC television specials. She made three more movie appearances in the Death of a Gunfighter (1969), in The Wiz as good witch Glindasinging "If You Believe" (1978), and the MGM retrospective “That's Entertainment! III” (1994).  Lena returned to Broadway in 1981 appearing in the one woman show “The Lady and Her Music” Her recounting of her career in song and monologs she won a Tony Award.  

At the request of other musicians and producers she continued to record albums until 1998.  Her tribute to the music of Billy Strayhorn “We’ll Be Together Again” was released on Blue Note in 1994.  Her last album “Soul,” was released in in 1999 when she was 82.  She made her last major public appearance in 1999 at the all-star salute, “Lena: The Legacy,” at New York’s Lincoln Center.

In his review of James Gavin's Biography of Horne,  Robert Croan summed up Lena's complex life: "Even at the height of her fame and fortune, the superstar singer found herself unhappy, discontent and insecure. A black woman in a white world, she was lauded for her beauty and musical talents, but denied full acceptance by white and black society alike. Moreover, raised by a haughty middle-class grandmother in an upscale Brooklyn neighborhood, she was taught at an early age to hide her feelings, told "You will never let anyone see you cry."  

At the end of her long successful career Lena told an interviewer: "I'm not alone, I'm free. I no longer have to be a credit, I don't have to be a symbol to anybody; I don't have to be a first to anybody."

Lena Horne passed away in New York City at age 92 on May 9, 2010.  She left behind six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and millions of fans. Like Jackie Robinson she was a poised brave pioneer who opened many doors for acceptance African Americans into the movie and television industries and fought civil rights.

"You have to be taught to be second class; you're not born that way.” - Lena Horne

Lena Horne -Siren Songs

You Go To My Head

I'd Do Anything
Lena at Age 2 in NAACP Bulletin
Lena at age 16
Lena at the Cotton Club at age 16 (2nd from Right)

First Husband Louis Jones of Pittsburgh
Loendi Club 1938 with Woogie Harris
Lena and Ralph Copper in the "Dukes Is Tops" 1938
Lena with Charlie Barnet 1941
Lena Horne and Billy Strayhorn
Stormy Weather Movie 1943
Billy Eckstine and Lena Honored in Pittsburgh 1944
at the Loendi Club -Photo  Taken by Teenie Harris 
Lena and Father Teddy Horne 1944  (Teddy on Left)
Lena with the Tuskegee Airmen 1944

Lena and Husband Lennie Hayton Married 1947
On Broadway in Jamaica 1957
Lena at the Coconut Groove
Lena at the Civil Rights March Washington 1963
The Lady and Her Music on Broadway 1982
Lena and Daughter Gail Horne 1987
Lena in her golden years