Born Harold George Belafonte, Jr. in March 1927 to Jamaican parents in Harlem, his incredible life almost feels like a Hollywood story unto itself. Belafonte served in the Navy during World War II and, after returning to civilian life in New York, he developed a love of theater and acting. According to Variety, it was during this time that Belafonte befriended another struggling young actor named Sidney Poitier, performing at the American Negro Theater and eventually making his breakthrough after singing at various nightclubs to help pay for his classes in music. performance. His first big hit came with his album “Calypso” in 1956, which led to the popularization of Caribbean-style music in the United States and culminated in his enduring hit “Banana Boat Song.”
Belafonte’s singing talents not only put him at the top of the charts several times, but his broad career also earned him recognition from a Tony Award for his performance on Broadway in 1954, a Primetime Emmy Award in 1960, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. in 2000, nominated for a SAG Award for his performance in “BlacKkKlansman,” and was even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Although his film career never took off in a sustained fashion like his other passions and pursuits, Belafonte devoted much of his time and energy to social concerns and humanitarian causes in support of the black community. Although his direct efforts in the civil rights movement are well documented, he also used his art to comment on the issues closest to his heart.
A legend to the end, may Harry Belafonte rest in power.