Lena Horne in Country Club

Category: Our History
Published on Wednesday, 24 February 2016 16:22
Written by Dianne Lawrence
Feb16Lena3Lena Horne’s signature song, from a 1943 film of the same name, is Stormy Weather. Some would say she weathered many storms in her life.

At age 16 Horne began working at

Harlem’s Cotton Club, first as a dancer,

then in the chorus and later as a solo

singer. She began singing with

orchestras, and, while singing with Charlie

Barnet’s (white) orchestra, she was

discovered.  From there she began

playing clubs in Greenwich Village and

then performed at Carnegie Hall.

Horne left New York to perform at the Trocadero Club in California. Within a

short time, she signed a Hollywood movie contract with MGM. Her contract

stipulated that she would not be cast in stereotypical black roles, and with

her elegance and glamour, she became known for transforming the image

of the black woman in film. 

Her first role in 1942, like many that followed, was only a guest spot number

in Panama Hattie, but the same year she played a leading part in Cabin in

the Sky. In 1943 she was in three films: I Dood It, Thousands Cheer, and

Stormy Weather,the title song of which became her trademark. It was on the

set of Stormy Weather where Horne met second husband Lennie Hayton.

Horne’s father, Ted Horne, had left home in 1920, when she was only three.

In 1934, Horne joined Noble Sissle’s Society Orchestra in Philadelphia.

There she was reunited with her father who subsequently played an

important role in her life and career until his death in 1970.

Feb16lena1Because Horne’s best


Elois Davis, lived

down the street, Lena

bought a modest

second home in

Country Club Park in

part to house her ailing

father, so that Elois

could look in on him

when Horne and Lennie

Hayton were in New

York or on tour.