A pioneer among African-American performers, Lena Horne had the talent and beauty to crack the race barrier in Hollywood in the 1940s. A smooth singer of bluesy ballads, Lena Horne appeared onstage in Harlem when she was only 14 years old, and by age 16 she was singing in the famous Cotton Club. Eventually she made her way into films, starring in the popular 1943 musicals Stormy Weather (with the tap-dancing The Nicholas Brothers) and Cabin in the Sky (with jazz legend Louis Armstrong). In later years she sang in clubs and was a steady presence on TV and radio. Lena Horne"s active career spanned six decades, and in 1989 she was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Lena Horne was due to be played by Janet Jackson in a 2004 TV movie, but Horne barred Jackson from taking the part after Jackson flashed her near-naked breast during the halftime show of the 2004 Super Bowl… Lena Horne was a longtime spokesperson for Sanka instant coffee, often singing a variation on the old Ink Spots pop hit “Java Jive”: “I love coffee, I love tea, I love my Sanka ’cause it loves me.”