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She only made two major appearances for MGM during the 1950s: Duchess of Idaho (which was also Eleanor Powell's final film); and the 1956 musical Meet Me in Las Vegas.

She was blacklisted during the 1950s for her affiliations in the 1940s with communist-backed groups. She returned to the screen three more times, playing chanteuse Claire Quintana in the 1969 film Death of a Gunfighter, Glinda in The Wiz (1978), a film younger audience members recognize her from, and co-hosting the MGM retrospective That's Entertainment!

In November 1944, she was featured in an episode of the popular radio series Suspense, as a fictional nightclub singer, with a large speaking role along with her singing. She made her debut at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Panama Hattie (1942) and performed the title song of Stormy Weather based loosely on the life of Adelaide Hall, (1943), which she made at 20th Century Fox, on loan from MGM.

She appeared in a number of MGM musicals, most notably Cabin in the Sky (also 1943), but was never featured in a leading role because of her race and the fact that her films had to be re-edited for showing in cities where theaters would not show films with black performers.

Horne joined the chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of 16 and became a nightclub performer before moving to Hollywood, where she had small parts in numerous movies, and more substantial parts in the 1943 films Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather.