Liza Minnelli Releases Statement on Lena Horne
Liza Minnelli has released the following statement on the passing of Lena Horne:
My father discovered Lena Horne and brought her to Hollywood to star in "Cabin in the Sky," which has throughout the years owned the position as being the first elegant and unique all black movie. It made Lena a star.
I knew her from the time I was born, and whenever I needed anything she was there. She was funny, sophisticated and truly one of a kind. We lost an original. Thank you Lena.
Stage and screen star, and "Stormy Weather" singer Lena Horne died Sunday, May 9, at the age of 92 at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.
With roots on the stage, Horne made her Broadway debut in 1934's 'Dance With Your Gods.' Horne won a the Tony and Drama Desk Awards in 1981 for 'Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music.' She was also nominated for a Tony Award in 1958 for 'Jamaica.'
Horne was a celebrated jazz singer, being the first black performer to play the Copacabana nightclub. Horne was also a contract star for MGM Studios in the 1940s, the first black performer to be signed by a major Hollywood studio. In 1943, MGM loaned Horne to 20th Century-Fox for 'Stormy Weather.' Horne played Selina Rogers in the all-black film, and her recording of the title song, 'Story Weather' became her signature.
Despite her success Horne, struggled against the humiliation of accepted racism. In Brian Lanker's book 'I Dreamed a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America,' Horne wrote "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." In many of the films Horne did while at MGM she appeared only in musical numbers, which would later be cut from the film for viewing in the South, without the storyline being affected. She became a dedicated civil rights activist, participating in the March on Washington in 1963.
She is survived by granddaughter Screenwriter Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married) and daughter Gail.