Lena Horne died yesterday at the age of 92. She was an incredible woman . Her beauty was legendary. She often appeared on the most beautiful list. She was beautiful at every age of her life, never looking her years. She was a well rounded entertainer - a jazz singer, actress and Broadway performer. She set the stage for many to follow.
She lived and worked in the day of racism. Her beauty so overwhelming that Hollywood did not quite know what to do with her. She was fabulous as she endured the insults of her day, which she fought constantly. Her substance in as legendary as her performances.
Once while touring the USO during World War II she walked off the show, when she realized the German war prisoners were seated in front of the African American troops. She refused to perform and she was removed from the tour. With her own independent funds, she continued to tour at our own expense playing to a mixed audience, where all could be seated equally.
In another incident when called a racial slur in a Beverly Hills resturant, she threw a lamp at the customer. Way to go Lena. She broke up a common standard for Black entertainers of her day. They were allowed to perform for White audiences, but could not stay on the premise of the hotel or have Blacks in the performing audience. She challenged this pratice and eventually broke it up, establishing new pratices.
In her one woman show, AN EVENING WITH LENA, she told the story of Max Factor formulating a special make up for her, called 'Egyptian." She refused to go along with the Hollywood image being established for as an exotic Latina. She wanted to be known as a Black woman.
Her career was groundbreaking as it expanded over 50 years. In recent years, as a movie version of her life was being developed, she insisted to be a part of the decision as to who would portray . The actresses discussed were Halle Barry, Janet Jackson and Alicia Keys. Ms. Keys was Lena's choice.
She lived well. She was of her times. She overwhelmed. She was quite a lady. She was much more than a pretty face. Her substance lives. She opened many doors.