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Celebrity Ancestry: The Late Lena Horne’s Ethnicity: Was She Black, White, Biracial? 25,000 Google Her Heritage, Nationality, Parents Race & Family Background
1940s ACTRESS AND SINGER Lena Horne's multi-ethnicity confused Hollywood bosses, who weren't sure how to place her. Today, Google search shows that her legacy is very much alive. By Ben Arogundade. Feb.26.2021.
CELEBRITY REVISITED: Actress and singer Lena Horne, star of the 1943 films 'Stormy Weather' and 'Cabin In The Sky'. The late Hollywood's celebrity's ethnicity, nationality and racial background were diverse — her parents were of African American, Native American and European ancestry.
SINGER, ACTRESS AND CIVIL RIGHTS activist Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born in Brooklyn, New York City on June 30, 1917. The newborn had brown eyes, freckles and copper-coloured skin. Her parents possessed a diverse racial background. Her father, Edwin Frank Horne Jr. — a civil servant with a sideline in illegal gambling — was of African American, Native American and European heritage. Her mother, actress Edna Louise Scottron, was of the same ethnicity as her husband. She was fair-skinned, with green eyes. Horne’s grandfather, Edwin Sr., was of British and Native American ancestry, with blue eyes, while her maternal grandmother was of Native American and Afro-Portuguese ethnicity.
LENA HORNE’S RACE BACKGROUND & ETHNICITY
Interest in Lena Horne’s racial background continues to this day. Questions about her ethnicity, nationality and her parents’ race heritage are played out via Google, where each month the search giant records the total number of Internet queries that her fans type into their browsers. For example, over 1,000 internet users Google the term, “Lena Horne ethnicity”, each month. If we add up the total number of search queries about Horne’s ethnicity, nationality and family background, it amounts to over 25,000 searches per year.
LENA HORNE'S BIOGRAPHY
The era in which Horne grew up was a difficult one for many light-skinned African Americans, who were both welcomed and discriminated against by blacks and whites alike. Horne, who starred in the 1943 films Stormy Weather and Cabin In The Sky, was teased as a schoolgirl for being light-skinned, but in fact it was this same hue that launched her career, qualifying her to audition as a chorus girl for the famous Cotton Club at the age of 16.
In 1940 she broke into movies, signing with the MGM film studio, whose bosses positioned her as the acceptable face of modern African American beauty. “I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept,” Horne recalled. “I was their daydream.” Visually, the Brooklyn-born actress was the Halle Berry of the 1940s — beautiful, light-skinned and with short black wavy hair.
But almost immediately the studio’s confusion about how to handle their first light-skinned African American star became clear. In her debut screen test she photographed so light that the studio feared that the young actress might be mistaken for a white woman — so they engaged Max Factor Cosmetics to create a bespoke make-up line (called “Light Egyptian”) to make her race and ethnicity appear unequivocal in front of camera.
HORNE'S ETHNICITY SET FREE
Nevertheless, Lena's film career failed to spark. She’d arrived 20 years too early for conservative Hollywood. Instead of becoming the major star her talent deserved, she languished at MGM for years, with the bosses never quite knowing how to place her.
LENA'S LIFE & DEATH
In her later years, as she reflected on her career, she expressed relief that she had finally escaped the pressures that went with being such an early race pioneer and symbol. “I’m free because I no longer have to be a credit,” she said. “I don't have to be a symbol to anybody; I don’t have to be a first to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me and I'm like nobody else.”
Lena Horne died on May 9, 2010, aged 92.
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LIFE OF LENA: (from top): Hollywood actress and singer Lena Horne in 1919, aged 18 months; Horne and her father Edwin (Teddy), in Hollywood, 1942; Lena lets rip live on stage; Horne became the first African American celebrity to make the cover of a movie magazine - 'Motion Picture's', October 1944 edition. Despite her death in 2010, Google records 25,000 queries about Horne’s ethnicity and her parents racial background.
*ACTRESS LENA HORNE’S ETHNICITY, NATIONALITY, PARENTS RACE - ACCORDING TO GOOGLE SEARCH
The number of people worldwide who Google the terms, “Lena Horne ethnicity, race, nationality, parents, mother, father, death”, each month.
The number of people worldwide who still Google Lena Horne’s name each month.
*All figures for “Actress Lena Horne’s Ethnicity, Nationality, Parents Race - According to Google Search”, supplied by Google. Stats include global totals for laptop and desktop computers and mobile devices.
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