Lena Mary Calhoun Horne, born June 30, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York, was an American singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist. Ms. Horne first achieved fame in the 1940s, became a nightclub and recording star in the 1950s and made a triumphant return to the spotlight with a one-woman Broadway show in 1981. She might have become a major movie star, but she was born 50 years too early: she languished at MGM for years because of her race, although she was so light-skinned that when she was a child other black children had taunted her, accusing her of having a “white daddy.” The union was significantly impacted by racial prejudice, and they separated in the 1960s but never divorced.
Stormy Weather, a well-received biography of Horne's life, was published in 2009 and written by James Gavin. Horne also published her own memoir, Lena, in 1965. Horne died of heart failure on May 9, 2010, in New York City.