In a recent first-day-of-issue ceremony at the Peter Norton Symphony Space, the U.S. Postal Service celebrated the life and legacy of Lena Horne, a Tony Award recipient, three-time Grammy winner, and now the 41st honoree in the Black Heritage stamp series.
“Today, we honor the 70-year career of a true American legend,” Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, who dedicated the stamp, said in a statement.
“With this Forever stamp, the Postal Service celebrates a woman who used her platform as a renowned entertainer to become a prolific voice for civil rights advancement and gender equality.”
Joining Stroman to unveil the stamp were Gail Lumet Buckley, an author and Horne’s daughter; Christian Steiner, photographer; and Amy Niles, president and chief executive officer of WBGO Radio.
According to the U.S. Postal Service, the stamp art features a photograph of Lena Horne taken by Christian Steiner in the 1980s. Kristen Monthei colorized the original black-and-white photo using a royal blue for the dress, a color the stunning starlet frequently wore.
Monthei also added a background reminiscent of Horne’s “Stormy Weather” album with a few clouds to add texture and to subtly evoke the album title. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp.
Born in Brooklyn on June 30, 1917, Horne began her career as a dancer at Harlem’s legendary Cotton Club before going on to star in feature films. She was a trailblazer in Hollywood for women of color and used her fame to inspire Americans to be dedicated activists for civil rights.
Her most famous movie roles were “Cabin in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather,” both released in 1943. In 1984, Horne was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient.
Other honorees in the Black Heritage Stamp series include Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Marian Anderson, Dorothy Height and Wilt Chamberlain.