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Singer, actress, legend: Lena Horne dies at 92

May 10, 2010 |  9:16 am


Lena-horne-web Lena Horne died Sunday at a New York hospital, according to a hospital spokeswoman, bringing to a close Horne's 92 years -- which she spent since age 16 as an actress, singer, dancer and, according to Vogue, "Hollywood's first black beauty."

From the Los Angeles Times obituary:

As a singer, Horne had a voice that jazz critic Don Heckman described in a 1997 profile in The Times as "smooth, almost caressing, with its warm timbre and seductive drawl — honey and bourbon with a teasing trace of lemon."

She was, Heckman wrote, "one of the legendary divas of popular music" — a singer who "belonged in the pantheon of great female artists that includes Ethel Waters, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae."

Horne, 80 at the time and cutting a new album, took a different view.

"Oh, please," she said. "I'm really not Miss Pretentious. I'm just a survivor. Just being myself."

Horne began her career in the chorus at New York's iconic Cotton Club, moved to Hollywood in 1941 and later landed a seven-year contract with MGM. Click here to read the full obituary -- the anecdotes about being a black performer before the civil-rights era are worth it. And you can revisit her 1943 film performance in "Stormy Weather," which was also her signature tune, in the video above.

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Lena Horne arrives at the 65th annual Academy Awards on March 29, 1993. Credit: Associated Press.

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