Legendary film actress and singer Lena Horne, one of the first black actresses to sign a film deal with MGM Studios and later to be known for her roles in The Wiz and Stormy Weather, was born on June 30, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York.
At the age of 16 she left school to perform in a choir at the famous Cotton Club in Harlem, but soon turned to Broadway and landed her first part as a voodoo dancer on the Dance With Your Gods show in 1934. She sang and played in numerous films in the 1940s, including Thousands Cheer (1943), Broadway Rhythm (1944) and Two Girls and a Sailor (1944), but was often overlooked for important roles because she refused to play roles play that black women stereotyped.
During World War II, she advocated the unfair treatment of black soldiers by the US military. An action she later said resulted in her being banished from Hollywood for almost a decade.
In her last film appearance, she returned to the big screen as Glinda the Good Witch in the film version of The Wiz (1978), the all-black musical based on The Wizard of Oz. In 1981, her critically acclaimed Broadway show with a woman, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, won a Tony Award. She recorded music well into the 1990s. On May 9, 2010, she died at the age of 92.