Singer, dancer and actress Lena Horne died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday night, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Horne was 92.
She was one of the first African-Americans to sign a long-term movie contract with a major Hollywood studio when she joined MGM in 1942.
"I think the black boy that cleaned the shoes and me were the only two black people except the maids who were there working for the stars," Horne said in a CNN interview. "And it was very lonely, and I wasn't very happy."
Still, Horne said she was grateful that her World War II-era films - including "Cabin in the Sky" and "Stormy Weather" - were seen by black and white soldiers.
"But after I realized I would only go so far, I went on the stage," Horne said.