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Obamas pay tribute to the late Lena Horne

May 11, 2010 at 1:41 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama says he and his wife, Michelle, were saddened to hear about the death of entertainer Lena Horne this week at the age of 92.

"Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lena Horne -- one of our nation's most cherished entertainers," Obama said in a statement issued Monday.

"Over the years, she warmed the hearts of countless Americans with her beautiful voice and dramatic performances on screen," the president added. "From the time her grandmother signed her up for an NAACP membership as a child, she worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality. In 1940, she became the first African-American performer to tour with an all white band. And while entertaining soldiers during World War II, she refused to perform for segregated audiences -- a principled struggle she continued well after the troops returned home. Michelle and I offer our condolences to all those who knew and loved Lena, and we join all Americans in appreciating the joy she brought to our lives and the progress she forged for our country."

Turner Classic Movies separately announced it plans to pay tribute to the singer-actress by screening three of her most famous movies -- "The Duke is Tops," "Cabin in the Sky" and "Panama Hattie" -- on the evening of May 21.

"There was never anyone quite like Lena Horne as an entertainer, a presence or a trail-blazer," TCM host Robert Osborne said in a statement. "We've been shortchanged only by the limited number of worthwhile roles she was given to play in movies. But she certainly gave us 100 percent of her remarkable talent in those she did make. We're also very proud at Turner Classic Movies that she was one of our loyal TCM viewers."

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