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Lena Horne, the first black performer to be signed to a long-term contract by a major Hollywood studio, died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Sunday night. She was 92.
She rose to fame in the 1930s, and within a decade she was one of the first black performers hired to sing with a major white band while also performing in numerous musicals.
“I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept. I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked,” she once commented.
Born into Brooklyn’s black middle class, Horne was so light-skinned that other black children taunted her, accusing her of having a white father.
After making it big, she continued to face racism: “I was always battling the system to try to get to be with my people. Finally, I wouldn’t work for places that kept us out…it was a damn fight everywhere I was, every place I worked, in New York. In Hollywood, all over the world.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Horne family, including her daughter, Gail Lumet Buckley.
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