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Lena Horne

Lena Horne
Usage Conditions Apply
Florence Meyer Homolka, 1911 - 1962
Lena Calhoun Horne, 30 Jun 1917 - 9 May 2010
c. 1950
Gelatin silver print
Image/Sheet: 33.8 x 25 cm (13 5/16 x 9 13/16")
Mat: 55.9 x 40.6 cm (22 x 16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired through the generosity of Elizabeth Ann Hylton
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
© Florence Meyer Homolka
Object number
Exhibition Label
Beginning her career at the age of sixteen as a dancer at New York's Cotton Club, Lena Horne made her initial Broadway appearance in 1939. When she signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer a few years later, she became the first African American performer to be awarded a contract with a major film studio, although her parts were made so they could be edited out for southern venues. She was also actively involved with the cause of civil rights and helped to break down important color barriers in the entertainment industry: while touring with the USO during World War II, she refused to perform for segregated audiences, and as an actress, she fought the stereotypical roles typically offered to African Americans. This portrait was taken by Florence Meyer Homolka, an accomplished portraitist who photographed many prominent individuals in New York's theatrical and literary world.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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