Lena Horne is still making history

The legendary late actress is now officially the first Black woman to have a Broadway theater named in her honor. On Nov. 1 the former Brooks Atkinson Theatre located on West 47th Street was renamed after the trailblazing entertainer.

At the height of her career, Horne smashed glass ceilings when she became the highest-paid Black entertainer doubling as a musician with hits like “Stormy Weather,” “At Long Last Love,” “Mad About The Boy,” and a plethora of others. Not only that, the esteemed actress joined the civil rights movement as an active member. Her commitment to the movement included filing lawsuits against multiple restaurants and theaters for alleged discrimination, participating in several rallies, including the March on Washington in 1963.

At the age of 16, Horned dropped out of school to perform at the renowned jazz venue, the Cotton Club, and to focus on her desire for a life in the spotlight. It looks like this was a dream come true pretty quickly, because by 1934, Horne made her Broadway debut in “Dance With Gods,” before ultimately making her first on-screen appearance at age 21 in the 2938 film “The Duke Is Tops.” 

A woman of many first, Horn also became the first Black woman to receive a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in Jamaica. In 1981, her one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, won her a special Tony. The production was initially slated to run for four-weeks… it went on for 14 months.

The Lena Horne Theatre originally opened its doors in 1926 as the Mansfield Theatre before it was ultimately renamed after New York Times drama critic Brooks Atkinson in 1960. It is one of nine Broadway theaters throughout New York City that belong to the Nederlander Organization.

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