Lena Horne biographical timeline

Lena Horne poses in a sequined gown.

Lena Horne poses in a sequined gown. Photo: Bettmann via Getty Images

June 30, 1917

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born in Brooklyn, NY.

June 30, 1917
1933

Dropped out of school and began performing at the Cotton Club in Harlem (age 16).

1933
1934

Broadway debut in the fall production of "Dance With Your Gods."

1934
1935

Joined Noble Sissle & His Orchestra as a singer.

1935
1937

Marriage to Louis Jordan Jones. Birth of her daughter, Gail Lumet Buckley.

1937
1938

Film debut in "The Duke Is Tops," renamed in 1943 to "Bronze Venus".

1938
1939/1940

Joined the Charlie Barnet Orchestra (a well-known white swing band).

1939/1940
1940

Birth of son, Edwin Jones.

1940
1941

Returned to New York to work at Café Society as a solo singer. It was at the Café Society that Horne learned about African American history, politics, and culture and developed a new appreciation of her heritage.

1941
1942

Signed a seven-year movie deal with MGM Studios and moved to Hollywood. This made Horne the first African American to sign a contract with a major studio. Horne made her MGM debut with "Panama Hattie" and "Harlem on Parade" (both singing roles).

1942
1943

The release of the two biggest films in Horne’s career (and the only two in which she had a speaking role), "Stormy Weather" and "Cabin in the Sky." In addition to the release of more MGM films where she just had a singing role: "I Dood It," "Swing Fever," and "Thousands Cheer."

1943
1944

The release of two more MGM films where Horne just had singing roles: "Broadway Rhythm," and "Two Girls and a Sailor." Horne also divorced Louis Jordan Jones.

1944
1945

Went on USO tour.

1945
1947

Marriage to Lennie Hayton (kept secret for three years, until 1950).

1947
Early 1950s

Horne was blacklisted in television and film for her alleged Communist sympathies, which halted her onscreen career.

Early 1950s
1953

Horne wrote a letter to George Sokolsky to have her name removed from the list of Communist sympathizers.

1953
1955

Release of her album, "It’s Love."

1955
1957

Release of albums, "Stormy Weather" and "Lena Horne at the Waldorf Astoria."

1957
1958 - 1959

Starred in the Broadway musical, "Jamaica."

1958 - 1959
1959

Release of her album, "Porgy & Bess."

1959
1961

Release of her album, "Lena Horne at the Sands."

1961
1962

Release of her album, "Lena on the Blue Side."

1962
1963

Participated in the March on Washington, gave performances around the country for the National Council for Negro Women, and released her albums, "Lovely and Alive," and "Lena Goes Latin."

1963
1965

Release of her album, "Feelin’ Good." Release of her self-written memoir, "Lena."

1965
1966

Release of her three albums, "Lena in Hollywood," "Soul," and "Merry from Lena."

1966
1969

Release of her own special, "Lena in Concert." Release of her film, "Death of a Gunfighter."

1969
Early 1970s

Death of her father, Edwin Fletcher Horne, Jr.; son, Edwin Jones; and husband, Lennie Hayton.

Early 1970s
1973-1974

Toured England and the USA performing with Tony Bennett.

1973-1974
1978

Appearance in "The Wiz."

1978
1981

One-person Broadway show opened: "Lena Horne: The Lady And Her Music." The show won a special Tony Award and the soundtrack won two Grammy Awards.

1981
1988

Release of her album, "The Men in My Life."

1988
1994

Release of her albums, "An Evening with Lena Horne" and "We’ll Be Together Again."

1994
1998

Release of her album, "Being Myself."

1998
2009

Release of "Stormy Weather," a biography of her life written by James Gavin.

2009
May 9, 2010

Lena Horne died in New York, NY from heart failure at the age of 92.

May 9, 2010
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