This past Sunday, May 9th, legendary singer, actress and activist Lena Horne, passed away. She was born in Brooklyn and as a child lived at 189 Chauncey Street in Bedford Stuyvesant. Lena attended P.S. 35 and then Girls High School on Nostrand Avenue.
She only stayed there for a few years, leaving to work at the renowned Cotton Club in Manhattan. She made it into the chorus line there, and the rest, as they say, is history. Hollywood and the world would soon come knocking at her door.
But Brooklyn never forgot Lena, and from the time that she became famous, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle proudly chronicled her life in its pages. From its reviews of her singing engagments and movie roles, to her private life, her international influence and her encounters with racism, the Eagle kept Brooklynites informed about her. Here are some of the articles we found about the beautiful and extraordinarily talented Lena Horne.
In his review of her show at the Copacabana Lew Scheaffer wrote in the Brooklyn and Broadway section.
Miss Lena Horne-the warm, exciting cafe-au-lait beauty with the warm exciting cafe-au-lait voice ought to sue the Hollywood cameras. Potent stuff on the screen, the Brooklyn girl is more, much more, in person.
When she went to the Netherlands on behalf of "Brooklyn-Adopts Breukelen" project the Eagle reported on her journey there.
Her career was often a reflection of what was happening in the larger society which helped to shape her civil rights activism.
From the "Eagle" article of July 24th 1946
"The picture "Ziegfield follies of 1946" has been censored here to cut out scenes in which Negro night club singer Lena Horne appears. It was announced today. Emil Bernstecker, manager of a theatre chain now showing the film, said the negro artist's singing number "might prove objectionable to some people in Knoxville." Her name has also been blacked out on all advertising posters here.
One of the biggest tributes paid to Lena Horne by the borough was on August 21st, 1947, which was designated Lena Horne Day at a ceremony on the steps of Borough Hall. Borough President Cashmore, a band, a Girls High School contingent, and countless others paraded up Fulton Street to her hometown vicinity of Stuyvesant Avenue where she reviewed the festivities.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle would close its doors in 1955, depriving Brooklynites of their own special view of the world. But Lena blazed on, conquering film, television, music and Broadway.
Finally, we note proudly that Ms. Horne was among the first group of honorees at Brooklyn Public Library's premiere Gala in November 1997. With intelligence, beauty, talent and an indominable spirit--our Lena Horne was truly one of a kind.