Legendary screen actress and singer Lena Horne was born on this day in 1917

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FILE - This April 7, 1994 file photo shows singer-actress Lena Horne in New York. The venerated Times Square concert venue The Town Hall has created a new award to honor arts and activism, a prize to be named after Lena Horne. The Lena Horne Prize for Artists Creating Social Impact will recognize those who “promote awareness and create social change.” The inaugural winner will be honored in February. (AP Photo/Garth Vaughan, File)
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Legendary screen actress and singer Lena Horne, one of the first Black actresses to sign a film contract with MGM Studios and later known for her roles in The Wiz and Stormy Weather, was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 30, 1917.

At age 16, she left school to perform in the chorus line at the famed Cotton Club in Harlem but soon set her sights on Broadway, landing her first part as a dancer in the show Dance With Your Gods in 1934. She sang and acted in numerous films in the 1940s, but she was often overlooked for major roles because of her refusal to play stereotypical roles.

During World War II, she spoke out on the unfair treatment of Black soldiers in the U.S. military, an action she later said led to her being banned from Hollywood for nearly a decade.

In her final film appearance, she appeared in 1978s’ The Wiz. Lena Horne passed away in 2010.

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