Actress/Singer Lena Horne Dead At 92

May 10 2010, Published 8:50 a.m. ET

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Legendary actress/singer Lena Horne has died at the age of 92, has learned.

She died Sunday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Horne - known for her velvety rendition of Stormy Weather - broke racial barriers both in Hollywood and on Broadway.

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Horne was 16 when she began her show business career as a dancer at Harlem's fabled Cotton Club. She later became a singer there, playing to packed houses of white customers, with band leaders Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington.

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In the 1940s, Horne was one of the first black performers hired to sing with a major white band and among only a handful with a Hollywood contract.

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The light-complected Horne refused to go along with plans by MGM studio execs to promote her as a Latin American.

She later said she did not want to be "an imitation of a white woman."

In 1943, she won the role of Selina Rogers in the all-black movie musical Stormy Weather. Her rendition of the title song became a major hit and her signature song.

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In all, she starred in dozens of films, including Ziegfeld Follies (1946), Death Of A Gunfighter (1969), and the groundbreaking African-American film, The Wiz (1978), in which she played Glinda the Good Witch opposite Diana Ross (Dorothy) and Michael Jackson (Scarecrow).

She was also an accomplished stage performer, and in 1981, she won a special Tony Award for her one-woman Broadway show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music.

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She has a son and daughter from a first marriage that ended in 1944.

Horne married again in 1947 to Lennie Hayton, who was then MGM's music director.

She was an active supporter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s civil rights movement. Horne was there when King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech on the Lincoln Memorial steps in 1963.



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