Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010) was an American singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist. Horne’s career spanned over 70 years, appearing in film, television, and theater. Horne joined the chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of 16 and became a nightclub performerbefore moving to Hollywood.
Returning to her roots as a nightclub performer, Horne took part in the March on Washington in August 1963 and continued to work as a performer, both in nightclubs and on television while releasing well-received record albums. She announced her retirement in March 1980, but the next year starred in a one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, which ran for more than 300 performances on Broadway. She then toured the country in the show, earning numerous awards and accolades. Horne continued recording and performing sporadically into the 1990s, disappearing from the public eye in 2000. Horne died of congestive heart failure on May 9, 2010, at the age of 92.
Lena Horne was born in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. She was reportedly descended from the John C. Calhoun family, and both sides of her family were through a mixture of African, Native American, and European descent and belonged to the upper stratum of middle-class, well-educated people. Her father, Edwin Fletcher “Teddy” Horne Jr. (1893–1970).