Lena Horne

9265 WordsJun 20, 200538 Pages
Singer/actress Lena Horne's primary occupation was nightclub entertaining, a profession she pursued successfully around the world for more than 60 years, from the 1930s to the 1990s. In conjunction with her club work, she also maintained a recording career that stretched from 1936 to 2000 and brought her three Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989; she appeared in 16 feature films and several shorts between 1938 and 1978; she performed occasionally on Broadway, including in her own Tony-winning one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music in 1981-1982; and she sang and acted on radio and television. Adding to the challenge of maintaining such a career was her position as an African-American facing discrimination…show more content…
Jones owed his job a clerk in the county coroner's office to political patronage. It did not bring in much money, and in 1938, when Horne was approached by an agent with an offer to co-star in a low-budget all-black movie musical with a mere ten-day shooting schedule in Hollywood, she accepted. The film was The Duke Is Tops, released in July 1938. Later in the year, Horne was asked to take on a more time-consuming project, a part in a new mounting of producer Lew Leslie's all-black musical revue Blackbirds. Again, she accepted in the name of increasing the family income, spending months in rehearsals and out-of-town tryouts before Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1939 opened on Broadway on February 11, 1939. One of Horne's numbers was "You're So Indifferent," written by Sammy Fain and Mitchell Parish, a song she would keep in her repertoire. The show ran only nine performances, closing February 18. Horne returned to Pittsburgh, where she temporarily separated from her husband, then reconciled with him. She began taking singing engagements in the homes of wealthy families in the area. She also became pregnant again, and her son, Edwin Fletcher ("Teddy") Jones, was born in February 1940. That fall, she made a final separation from her husband (they were formally divorced in June 1944) and moved to New York to restart her career. In December, she accepted an offer to join the
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