Harry Belafonte
American musician
Harry Belafonte
Harold George "Harry" Belafonte, Jr. is an American singer, songwriter, actor and social activist. He was dubbed the "King of Calypso" for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s. Belafonte is perhaps best known for singing "The Banana Boat Song", with its signature lyric "Day-O". Throughout his career he has been an advocate for civil rights and humanitarian causes and was a vocal critic of the policies of the George W.
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Harry Belafonte’s New 19-Track Album Highlights Need For Racial Unity
The Huffington Post - 4 days
Over his 68-year-long career, Harry Belafonte has made remarkable contributions to both the world of music and activism. In commemoration of his upcoming 90th birthday on March 1, Legacy Recordings will highlight the entertainment icon’s esteemed cultural impact with the release of a 19-track single-disc anthology, “When Colors Come Together... The Legacy of Harry Belafonte.” The album, which was curated by Belafonte and produced by his son, David, will feature a selection of his notable hits, including “Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair),” “Turn The World Around,” and “Banana Boat Song (Day-O).” More...
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The Huffington Post article
Harry Belafonte 90th birthday career retrospective collection due Feb. 24
LATimes - 5 days
A 60th anniversary update of Harry Belafonte’s 1957 hit “When Colors Come Together (Island in the Sun)” caps a new retrospective album. The collection will survey the storied career of the veteran singer, actor and political activist who will celebrate his 90th birthday on March 1. The song, which...
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LATimes article
Why I Applaud The NFL Players Who Spoke Out Against Israel
Huffington Post - 10 days
function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Eleven NFL players were recently invited on an all-expenses paid trip to Israel. Although they all initially accepted the invitation, only five ultimately made the trip. The drop in attendance was sparked by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, both of whom decided to boycott the trip and publicly express their dissent. As an activist and longtime supporter of Palestinian rights, I applauded the move. ...
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Huffington Post article
Lions of New York: Harry Belafonte Knows a Thing or Two About New York
New York Times - 25 days
The city native, about to turn 90, looks back at a glorious past and wonders what his next act will be.
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New York Times article
This Rare 1967 MLK Interview Will Give You Hope For Tomorrow
Huffington Post - about 1 month
We’ve observed the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in books, speeches and transcripts. But the opportunity to witness the trailblazing civil rights icon speaking candidly in an interview beside some of his most valued friends is much more scarce.  In a rarely circulated episode from June 1967 of The Merv Griffin Show, Dr. King, who appears alongside his close friend and fellow activist Harry Belafonte, shares powerful insight on the state of race in America at the time.  The interview ― referred to by Griffin as a “rare opportunity” for the show and recently obtained by getTV ― gives us a glimpse into King’s reflections on the Vietnam War, civil rights demonstrations as well as the evolution of the black American’s spirit. “It’s given the negro a new sense of dignity, a new sense of somebody-ness and this is maybe the greatest victory that we have won,” King said on the effect the civil rights movement had on black Americans.  King also spoke on the resil ...
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Huffington Post article
America Ferrera To Chair Committee For Women's March On Washington
Huffington Post - about 2 months
America Ferrera is set to chair an Artists’ Committee for the upcoming Women’s March on Washington, march leader Bob Bland told BuzzFeed News. The march is planned for Saturday, Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, and organizers hope to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.”  Ferrera will work with fellow organizers for the event on unspecified activities. Ferrera’s inclusion falls in line with the program’s catalogue of “nationally recognized advocates, artists, entertainers, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders,” which currently includes the likes of Gloria Steinem and Harry Belafonte. A spokesperson for Ferrera told BuzzFeed that the decision to join the march was the actress’ own and that she arranged it all on her own. The Latina actress hasn’t been quiet about her political stance or her desire for fellow Latinos to get out to the polls. She has spoken out agai ...
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Huffington Post article
Planned Parenthood and Gloria Steinem Join Women's March on Washington - New York Magazine
Google News - 2 months
New York Magazine Planned Parenthood and Gloria Steinem Join Women's March on Washington New York Magazine With less than a month before the Women's March on Washington on January 21, the event's organizers on Tuesday announced that Planned Parenthood Federation of America has signed on as a partner. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem and actor and ... Planned Parenthood Will Lead March on Washington to Declare Abortion a “Human Right”LifeNews.com One Obama rule that Trump should keep: Making sure family planning funds reach everyone who needs themLos Angeles Times Planned Parenthood, Gloria Steinem, And Harry Belafonte Join Women's March On Washington LeadershipBuzzFeed News Bustle -Breitbart News -AlterNet -TIME all 42 news articles »
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Google News article
Bernie Sanders' New Book Takes Corporate Media To Task
Huffington Post - 3 months
During a rousing speech delivered to supporters in New York City Tuesday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had a few words for the media establishment. “Over 90 percent of media coverage [during the 2016 presidential race] was not about the issues that impact your lives,” he said, citing “a variety of studies.” Instead, he continued, the stories “were about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. They were about political gossip. They were about polls. They were about fundraising. They were about stupid things that people said 20 years ago. What we must demand of a media is that they start covering the issues that impact our lives. Not just the candidates’ lives.” Sanders was in town to promote his new book, Our Revolution, named for the political action group that grew out of the senator’s progressive platform. Speaking to a crowd of seated audience members in Manhattan’s Cooper Union, he took what he called “corporate media” to task for its failure to cover the 2016 presidential ...
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Huffington Post article
Hollywood, It's Time To Stand Up
Huffington Post - 4 months
One morning, over breakfast, my father said to me "If a man can't go his own way, he's nothing. The moment you give up what you stand for for fame or money, that's the moment you lose your soul." Yeah, it's heavy talk for a kid over Rice Crispies, but, my Dad was a pretty deep guy. And, he was a man who stood up, and spoke the truth. Sometimes, it made me cringe with nervousness. But, in the end, it was what made me most proud. And that was how that morning's particular chat started. I asked why more people like him didn't stand up and speak up. He told me the truth. Hollywood is full of pussies. It always has been. There have always been those that bowed out from doing the right thing, and hid behind whatever cloak they think made their cowardice palatable. And then, there were those few. The mavericks. The do-what-is-righters, no matter what the cost is on the other end of maintaining their integrity. The ones that stood up to be counted on the right side of history. The ...
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Huffington Post article
Op-Ed Contributor: Harry Belafonte: What Do We Have to Lose? Everything
NYTimes - 4 months
Donald Trump and his “movement” put the painfully obtained gains of the civil rights movement in jeopardy.
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NYTimes article
Harry Belafonte Taps Influencers For Powerful Police Brutality PSA
Huffington Post - 5 months
Harry Belafonte is continuing his pursuit for civil rights in America by addressing police brutality in a new short film titled, “Against The Wall.” In association with Belafonte’s social justice organization Sankofa.org, the PSA features a list of notable figures ― including actor Michael B. Jordan, Danny Glover, Van Jones and Marc Lamont Hill to name a few ― with their hands up against concrete as actual news audio from police related killings plays in the background. Belafonte is heard in the beginning of the video expressing his feelings on the recent uptick in nationwide police violence against people of color. “You cannot just go about if it’s once or twice, you can say it’s an accident and a coincidence,” he said. “But when you have a large population of murdered young men in the streets of America, and they’re all black or of African American descent, think there’s somebody sending us a message and we should respond to that message. “ The PSA, come ...
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Huffington Post article
In The Spirit Of The GI Bill, Cancel All Student Debt
Huffington Post - 5 months
Once upon a time this country thought big. We survived the Great Depression, fought the Second World War, rebuilt Europe on the Marshall Plan... and provided tuition-free education for college students. Ask anybody from that era about the G.I. Bill and chances are you'll hear how someone's life was changed for the better. That bill educated a generation and provided affordable opportunities to form households and start small businesses. At the same time, and for years afterward, many public colleges and universities charged little or no tuition. Not coincidentally, these moves were followed by an extraordinary period of growth in jobs and wages. Today, it seems, we have forgotten how to think big. Austerity economists and the anti-government right wing have persuaded us to cut education funding and, in so doing, drastically increase college costs. Students and their families are now shouldering what was once society's shared obligation: investing in the education that will lead ...
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Huffington Post article
T.I. On Police Brutality: 'They Can't Kill Us All'
Huffington Post - 5 months
T.I. addressed police brutality head on at the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards. During the annual event on Tuesday, the rapper performed “We Will Not” from his latest his EP “Us or Else,” which addresses issues surrounding social justice and police brutality. T.I. paid homage to the Black Panther Party by wearing all black and a beret; he was also surrounded by protesters, who were confronted by two police offers to help highlight police brutality in America.   The Grammy Award winner concluded his performance by saying: “United we stand. Look around and see the power around you, we gotta stand together. It’s us or else do or die. The time is now. They can’t kill us all.” Over the weekend, the rapper performed at Harry Belafonte’s social justice festival, “Many Rivers To Cross” festival. During the event, he told the New York Times that he felt compelled to use his platform to address police killings of black Americans because “It just seemed all too consistent, all to ...
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Huffington Post article
Harry Belafonte Is Really Concerned About Trump Supporters
Huffington Post - 5 months
Harry Belafonte, who initially endorsed Bernie Sanders during the primary season, has shifted his support to Hillary Clinton. The legendary entertainer appeared on Saturday’s episode of “CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield” and shared his thoughts on the election season, including his concern over Donald Trump’s number of supporters.    “I think America sits at its most critical space I’ve every known our country to be,” he said to Whitfield. “I think it’s one thing to flippantly dismiss Donald Trump as some phenomena or some peculiar phenomena. I think Americans think of him very seriously. I’m not as concerned about him and the distortions of his character, as I have about the fact that obviously 13 million people have declared themselves committed to his ideology, and committed to his philosophy. That’s a big number.”   When asked what impact he thinks the election will have on the current climate, Belafonte summed it up when he said there’s no “ambivalence” between the ...
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Huffington Post article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Harry Belafonte
  • 2016
    Age 88
    In 2016, Belafonte endorsed Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Primary, saying "I think he represents opportunity, I think he represents a moral imperative, I think he represents a certain kind of truth that's not often evidenced in the course of politics". On October 1, 2016 Belefonte appeared on CNN to denounce Donald Trump and endorse Hillary Clinton for President.
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  • 2013
    Age 85
    In 2013, he was named a Grand Marshal of the New York City Pride Parade, alongside Edie Windsor and Earl Fowlkes.
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    On February 1, 2013, Belafonte received the NAACP's Spingarn Medal, and in the televised ceremony, he counted Constance L. Rice among those previous recipients of the award whom he regarded highly for speaking up "to remedy the ills of the nation".
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  • 2012
    Age 84
    On December 9, 2012, in an interview with Al Sharpton on MSNBC, Belafonte expressed dismay that many political leaders in the United States continue to oppose the policies of President Obama even after his re-election: "The only thing left for Barack Obama to do is to work like a third-world dictator and just put all of these guys in jail.
    More Details Hide Details You’re violating the American desire."
  • 2011
    Age 83
    In 2011, he commented on the Obama administration and the role of popular opinion in shaping its policies. "I think Obama plays the game that he plays because he sees no threat from evidencing concerns for the poor."
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  • 2009
    Age 81
    David married Danish model, singer and TV personality Malena Mathiesen, who won silver in Dancing with the Stars in Denmark in 2009.
    More Details Hide Details Malena Belafonte founded Speyer Legacy School, a private elementary school for gifted and talented children. David and Malena's daughter Sarafina attended this school. Gina Belafonte is a TV and film actress and worked with her father as coach and producer on more than six films. Gina helped found The Gathering For Justice, an intergenerational, intercultural non-profit organization working to reintroduce nonviolence to stop child incarceration. She is married to actor Scott McCray.
  • 2008
    Age 80
    At some point, Belafonte and Robinson divorced. In April 2008, Belafonte married photographer Pamela Frank.
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  • 2006
    Age 78
    He was named one of nine 2006 Impact Award recipients by AARP The Magazine.
    More Details Hide Details On October 19, 2007, Belafonte represented UNICEF on Norwegian television to support the annual telethon (TV Aksjonen) in support of that charity and helped raise a world record of $10 per inhabitant of Norway. Belafonte was also an ambassador for the Bahamas. He is on the board of directors of the Advancement Project. He also serves on the Advisory Council of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Belafonte has been a longtime critic of U.S. foreign policy. He began making controversial political statements on this subject in the early 1980s. He has at various times made statements opposing the U.S. embargo on Cuba; praising Soviet peace initiatives; attacking the U.S. invasion of Grenada; praising the Abraham Lincoln Brigade; honoring Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and praising Fidel Castro. Belafonte is additionally known for his visit to Cuba which helped ensure hip-hop’s place in Cuban society. According to Geoffrey Baker’s article “Hip hop, Revolucion! Nationalizing Rap in Cuba”, in 1999 Belafonte met with representatives of the rap community immediately before meeting with Fidel Castro. This meeting resulted in Castro’s personal approval of, and hence the government’s involvement in, the incorporation of rap into his country’s culture. In a 2003 interview, Belafonte reflected upon this meeting’s influence:
    On June 27, 2006, Belafonte was the recipient of the BET Humanitarian Award at the 2006 BET Awards.
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    In January 2006, in a speech to the annual meeting of the Arts Presenters Members Conference, Belafonte referred to "the new Gestapo of Homeland Security" saying, "You can be arrested and have no right to counsel!" During the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day speech at Duke University in January 2006, Belafonte said that if he could choose his epitaph it would be, "Harry Belafonte, Patriot."
    More Details Hide Details In 2004, he was awarded the Domestic Human Rights Award in San Francisco by Global Exchange.
    During a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day speech at Duke University in 2006, Belafonte compared the American government to the hijackers of the September 11 attacks, saying: "What is the difference between that terrorist and other terrorists?" In response to criticism about his remarks Belafonte asked, "What do you call Bush when the war he put us in to date has killed almost as many Americans as died on 9/11 and the number of Americans wounded in war is almost triple?
    More Details Hide Details By most definitions Bush can be considered a terrorist." When he was asked about his expectation of criticism for his remarks on the war in Iraq, Belafonte responded: "Bring it on. Dissent is central to any democracy." In another interview Belafonte remarked that while his comments may have been "hasty", nevertheless he felt the Bush administration suffered from "arrogance wedded to ignorance" and its policies around the world were "morally bankrupt".
    Belafonte and Glover met again with Chávez in 2006.
    More Details Hide Details The comment ignited a great deal of controversy. Hillary Clinton refused to acknowledge Belafonte's presence at an awards ceremony that featured both of them. AARP, which had just named him one of its 10 Impact Award honorees 2006, released this statement following the remarks: "AARP does not condone the manner and tone which he has chosen and finds his comments completely unacceptable."
    In January 2006, Belafonte led a delegation of activists including actor Danny Glover and activist/professor Cornel West to meet with President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez.
    More Details Hide Details In 2005 Chávez, an outspoken Bush critic, initiated a program to provide cheaper heating oil for poor people in several areas of the United States. Belafonte supported this initiative. He was quoted as saying, during the meeting with Chávez, "No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people support your revolution."
    In 2006, Belafonte appeared in Bobby, Emilio Estevez's ensemble drama about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy; he played Nelson, a friend of an employee of the Ambassador Hotel (Anthony Hopkins).
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  • 2004
    Age 76
    In 2004, Belafonte went to Kenya to stress the importance of educating children in the region.
    More Details Hide Details Belafonte has been involved in prostate cancer advocacy since 1996, when he was diagnosed and successfully treated for the disease.
  • 2002
    Age 74
    Belafonte achieved widespread attention for his political views in 2002 when he began making a series of comments about President George W. Bush, his administration and the Iraq War.
    More Details Hide Details During an interview with Ted Leitner for San Diego's 760 KFMB, in October 2002, Belafonte referred to a quote made by Malcolm X. Belafonte said: Belafonte used the quote to characterize former United States Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, both African Americans. Powell and Rice both responded, with Powell calling the remarks "unfortunate" and Rice saying: "I don't need Harry Belafonte to tell me what it means to be black." The comment was brought up again in an interview with Amy Goodman for Democracy Now! in 2006.
    In 2002, Africare awarded him the Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award for his efforts to assist Africa.
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    The album was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Awards for Best Boxed Recording Package, for Best Album Notes and for Best Historical Album.
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  • 2001
    Age 73
    In 2001, he went to South Africa to support the campaign against HIV/AIDS.
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  • 1994
    Age 66
    In 1994, he went on a mission to Rwanda and launched a media campaign to raise awareness of the needs of Rwandan children.
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    He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994 and he won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.
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  • 1989
    Age 61
    Belafonte received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1989.
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  • 1988
    Age 60
    Also in 1988, Tim Burton used "The Banana Boat Song" and "Jump in the Line" in his movie Beetlejuice.
    More Details Hide Details Following a lengthy recording hiatus, An Evening with Harry Belafonte and Friends, a soundtrack and video of a televised concert, were released in 1997 by Island Records. The Long Road to Freedom: An Anthology of Black Music, a huge multi-artist project recorded by RCA during the 1960s and 1970s, was finally released by the label in 2001. Belafonte went on the Today Show to promote the album on September 11, 2001, and was interviewed by Katie Couric just minutes before the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
    He subsequently released his first album of original material in over a decade, Paradise in Gazankulu, in 1988.
    More Details Hide Details The album contains ten protest songs against the South African former Apartheid policy and is his last studio album. In the same year Belafonte, as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, attended a symposium in Harare, Zimbabwe, to focus attention on child survival and development in Southern African countries. As part of the symposium, he performed a concert for UNICEF. A Kodak video crew filmed the concert, which was released as a 60-minute concert video titled "Global Carnival". It features many of the songs from the album Paradise in Gazankulu and some of his classic hits.
  • 1985
    Age 57
    In 1985, he helped organize the Grammy Award-winning song "We Are the World", a multi-artist effort to raise funds for Africa.
    More Details Hide Details He performed in the Live Aid concert that same year. In 1987, he received an appointment to UNICEF as a goodwill ambassador. Following his appointment Belafonte traveled to Dakar, Senegal, where he served as chairman of the International Symposium of Artists and Intellectuals for African Children. He also helped to raise funds—alongside more than 20 other artists—in the largest concert ever held in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • 1978
    Age 50
    He subsequently was a guest star on a memorable episode of The Muppet Show in 1978, in which he performed his signature song "Day-O" on television for the first time.
    More Details Hide Details However, the episode is best known for Belafonte's rendition of the spiritual song "Turn the World Around", from the album of the same name, which he performed with specially made Muppets that resembled African tribal masks. It became one of the series' most famous performances. It was reportedly Jim Henson's favorite episode, and Belafonte reprised the song at Henson's memorial in 1990. "Turn the World Around" was also included in the 2005 official hymnal supplement of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Singing the Journey. His involvement in USA for Africa during the mid-1980s resulted in renewed interest in his music, culminating in a record deal with EMI.
  • 1977
    Age 49
    In 1977, he released the album Turn the World Around on the Columbia Records label.
    More Details Hide Details The album, with a strong focus on world music, was never issued in the United States.
  • 1971
    Age 43
    He released his fifth and final Calypso album, Calypso Carnival in 1971.
    More Details Hide Details From the mid-1970s to early 1980s Belafonte spent the greater part of his time touring Japan, Europe, Cuba and elsewhere.
  • 1968
    Age 40
    Belafonte appeared on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on September 29, 1968, performing a controversial "Mardi Gras" number intercut with footage from the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots.
    More Details Hide Details CBS censors deleted the segment. The full unedited content were broadcast in 1993 as part of a complete Smothers Brothers Hour syndication package.
    From February 5 to 9, 1968, Belafonte guest hosted The Tonight Show substituting for Johnny Carson.
    More Details Hide Details Among his interview guests were Martin Luther King, Jr and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Belafonte's recording activity slowed after leaving RCA in the mid-1970s.
  • 1967
    Age 39
    In 1967, Belafonte was the first non-classical artist to perform at the prestigious Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in Upstate New York, soon to be followed by concerts there by The Doors, The 5th Dimension, The Who and Janis Joplin.
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    His last hit single, "A Strange Song", was released in 1967 and peaked at number 5 on the Adult contemporary music charts.
    More Details Hide Details Belafonte has received Grammy Awards for the albums Swing Dat Hammer (1960) and An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba (1965). The latter album dealt with the political plight of black South Africans under apartheid. He earned six Gold Records. During the 1960s he appeared on TV specials alongside such artists as Julie Andrews, Petula Clark, Lena Horne and Nana Mouskouri.
  • 1964
    Age 36
    As The Beatles and other stars from Britain began to dominate the U.S. pop charts, Belafonte's commercial success diminished; 1964's Belafonte at The Greek Theatre was his last album to appear in Billboards Top 40.
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  • 1961
    Age 33
    He was one of many entertainers recruited by Frank Sinatra to perform at the inaugural gala of President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
    More Details Hide Details That same year he released his second calypso album, Jump Up Calypso, which went on to become another million seller. During the 1960s he introduced several artists to American audiences, most notably South African singer Miriam Makeba and Greek singer Nana Mouskouri. His album Midnight Special (1962) featured the first-ever record appearance by a young harmonica player named Bob Dylan.
  • 1960
    Age 32
    In 1960 he appeared in a campaign commercial for Democratic Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy.
    More Details Hide Details Kennedy later named Belafonte cultural advisor to the Peace Corps. Belafonte gave the keynote address at the ACLU of Northern California's annual Bill of Rights Day Celebration In December 2007 and was awarded the Chief Justice Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award. The 2011 Sundance Film Festival featured the documentary film Sing Your Song, a biographical film focusing on Belafonte's contribution to and his leadership in the civil rights movement in America and his endeavours to promote social justice globally. In 2011, Belafonte's memoir My Song was published by Knopf Books. Belafonte supported the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s and was one of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s confidants. He provided for King's family, since King made only $8,000 a year as a preacher. Like many other civil rights activists, Belafonte was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. During the 1963 Birmingham Campaign he bailed King out of Birmingham City Jail and raised thousands of dollars to release other civil rights protesters. He financed the 1961 Freedom Rides, supported voter registration drives, and helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington.
  • 1959
    Age 31
    From his 1959 album, "Hava Nagila" became part of his regular routine and one of his signature songs.
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  • 1957
    Age 29
    On March 8, 1957, Belafonte married his second wife Julie Robinson, a former dancer with the Katherine Dunham Company.
    More Details Hide Details They had two children, David and Gina Belafonte. David Belafonte, a former model and actor, is an Emmy-winning producer and the executive director of the family-held company Belafonte Enterprises Inc. A music producer, he has been involved in most of Belafonte's albums and tours.
    In 1957's Island in the Sun, there are hints of an affair between Belafonte's character and the character played by Joan Fontaine.
    More Details Hide Details The film also starred James Mason, Dandridge, Joan Collins, Michael Rennie and John Justin. In 1959, he starred in and produced Robert Wise's Odds Against Tomorrow, in which he plays a bank robber uncomfortably teamed with a racist partner (Robert Ryan). He also co-starred with Inger Stevens in The World, the Flesh and the Devil. Belafonte was offered the role of Porgy in Preminger's Porgy and Bess, where he would have once again starred opposite Dandridge, but he refused the role because he objected to its racial stereotyping. Dissatisfied with the film roles available to him, he returned to music during the 1960s. In the early 1970s Belafonte appeared in more films among which are two with Poitier: Buck and the Preacher (1972) and Uptown Saturday Night (1974). In 1984 Belafonte produced and scored the musical film Beat Street, dealing with the rise of hip-hop culture. Together with Arthur Baker, he produced the gold-certified soundtrack of the same name. Belafonte next starred in a major film again in the mid-1990s, appearing with John Travolta in the race-reverse drama White Man's Burden (1995); and in Robert Altman's jazz age drama Kansas City (1996), the latter of which garnered him the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also starred as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in the TV drama Swing Vote (1999).
  • 1953
    Age 25
    Belafonte recorded for RCA Victor from 1953 to 1974.
    More Details Hide Details Two live albums, both recorded at Carnegie Hall in 1959 and 1960, enjoyed critical and commercial success.
    His first widely released single, which went on to become his "signature" song with audience participation in virtually all his live performances, was "Matilda", recorded April 27, 1953.
    More Details Hide Details His breakthrough album Calypso (1956) became the first LP in the world "to sell over 1 million copies within a year", Belafonte said on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's The Link program on August 7, 2012. He added that it was also the first million-selling album ever in England. The album is number four on Billboards "Top 100 Album" list for having spent 31 weeks at number 1, 58 weeks in the top ten, and 99 weeks on the U.S. charts. The album introduced American audiences to calypso music (which had originated in Trinidad and Tobago in the early 20th century), and Belafonte was dubbed the "King of Calypso", a title he wore with reservations, since he had no claims to any Calypso Monarch titles. One of the songs included in the album is the now famous "Banana Boat Song" (listed as "Day O" on the original release), which reached number five on the pop charts, and featured its signature lyric "Day-O". His other smash hit was "Jump in the Line".
  • 1952
    Age 24
    In 1952 he received a contract with RCA Victor.
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  • 1949
    Age 21
    At first he was a pop singer, launching his recording career on the Roost label in 1949, but later he developed a keen interest in folk music, learning material through the Library of Congress' American folk songs archives.
    More Details Hide Details With guitarist and friend Millard Thomas, Belafonte soon made his debut at the legendary jazz club The Village Vanguard.
  • 1948
    Age 20
    Belafonte and Marguerite Byrd were married from 1948 to 1957.
    More Details Hide Details They have two daughters: Adrienne and Shari. Shari Belafonte, married to Sam Behrens, is a photographer, model, singer and actress. In 1997 Adrienne Biesemeyer and her daughter Rachel Blue founded the Anir Foundation/Experience. Anir focuses on humanitarian work in southern Africa.
  • 1932
    Age 4
    From 1932 to 1940, he lived with his grandmother in her native country of Jamaica.
    More Details Hide Details When he returned to New York City, he attended George Washington High School after which he joined the Navy and served during World War II. In the 1940s, he was working as a janitor's assistant in NYC when a tenant gave him, as a gratuity, two tickets to see the American Negro Theater. He fell in love with the art form and also met Sidney Poitier. The financially struggling pair regularly purchased a single seat to local plays, trading places in between acts, after informing the other about the progression of the play. At the end of the 1940s, he took classes in acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the influential German director Erwin Piscator alongside Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Walter Matthau, Bea Arthur and Sidney Poitier, while performing with the American Negro Theatre. He subsequently received a Tony Award for his participation in the Broadway revue John Murray Anderson's Almanac.
  • 1927
    Belafonte was born Harold George Bellanfanti, Jr. at Lying-in Hospital on March 1, 1927, in Harlem, New York, the son of Melvine (née Love), a housekeeper of Jamaican descent, and Harold George Bellanfanti, Sr., a Martiniquan who worked as a chef.
    More Details Hide Details His mother was born in Jamaica, the child of a Scottish white mother and a black father. His father also was born in Jamaica, the child of a black mother and Dutch Jewish father of Sephardi origins. This is all Harry says about his Jewish grandfather, whom he never met: “a white Dutch Jew who drifted over to the islands after chasing gold and diamonds, with no luck at all”.
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