Lena Horne: Goddess Reclaimed

Running Pr. Oct. 2023. 272p. ISBN 9780762475209. $35. FILM
Bogle (Black cinema history, Univ. of Pennsylvania and New York Univ.; Hollywood Black: The Stars, the Films, the Filmmakers) gives a richly detailed depiction of the life of singer and actress Lena Horne (1917–2010). Raised in an affluent Black family in New York, Horne moved between the homes of her stoic grandmother and her wayward mother. Seeing her burgeoning beauty as a path toward more income, Horne’s mother persuaded her to take a job dancing at the Cotton Club. This led to her singing at nightclubs for bands and as a solo act. Eventually, she landed a contract with MGM Studios. Using archival interviews and newspaper articles, Bogle presents fascinating details about Horne’s personal and professional lives, including her fierce political and social activism as she handled racism in Hollywood and later took part in the civil rights movement. Bogle also dives into her failed marriages and her love affairs with actor/director Orson Welles and boxer Joe Louis. The book is enhanced by roughly 250 color and black-and-white photos. An index, bibliography, and notes also make this a useful reference source.
VERDICT An immensely enjoyable and comprehensive look at one of the most glamorous stars of her time.
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