American Singer, actor and human rights activist Harry Belafonte died Tuesday at age 96 of congestive heart failure. He was best known for his recordings of “The Banana Boat Song”, with its signature “Day-O” lyric, “Jump in the Line (Shake, Señora)”, “Jamaica Farewell” and “Mary’s Boy Child”.
He has starred in films, including Otto Preminger’s hit musical Carmen Jones (1954), Island in the Sun (1957), and Robert Wise’s Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).
Harry Belafonte Personal Life
Belafonte (born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr.; March 1, 1927 – April 25, 2023) was an American singer, activist, and actor. As arguably the most successful Caribbean-American pop star of the 1950s, he popularized Jamaican mento folk songs as Trinbagonian Calypso music. In 1956, Calypso became the first album by a single artist to sell one million copies.
He was an American singer, activist, and actor whose career spanned six decades. Having been born in Harlem, New York, on March 1, 1927, Belafonte grew up in poverty and experienced racism and discrimination from a young age.
In spite of these challenges, Belafonte developed a love for music and began singing in nightclubs and theaters in the 1940s. He soon became known for his distinctive style, which blended elements of jazz, blues, and Caribbean folk music. Belafonte’s breakthrough came in the 1950s, when he popularized Jamaican mento folk songs and marketed them as Trinbagonian Calypso, bringing this musical style to an international audience.
In 1956, Belafonte released his landmark album “Calypso,” which became the first million-selling LP by a single artist. The album included his signature song “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song),” which became a global hit and is still recognized as a classic of the era. Belafonte’s success as a musician led to numerous television appearances, concerts, and collaborations with other artists, including Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, and Miriam Makeba.
Alongside his music career, Belafonte was also a passionate civil rights activist. He used his platform and influence to speak out against racism and inequality, and was a close friend and supporter of Martin Luther King Jr. Belafonte also played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement, using his celebrity status to help organize and fundraise for events like the March on Washington in 1963.
It was during the 1960s and 1970s that Belafonte continued to perform and record music, as well as venture into acting. In addition to appearing in several films, including “Carmen Jones” (1954), “Island in the Sun” (1957), and “Buck and the Preacher” (1972), he also appeared on numerous television shows.
In recognition of his contributions to music and activism, Belafonte was awarded many honors and awards over the course of his career, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Medal of Arts. He was also named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1989.
Harry Belafonte passed away on April 25, 2023, at the age of 96. Despite his passing, his music and legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.
Belafonte lived with one of his grandmothers in Jamaica from 1932 to 1940, where he attended Wolmer’s Schools. After returning to New York City, he attended George Washington High School, then joined the Navy during World War II. In the 1940s, a tenant gave him two tickets to see the American Negro Theater as a gratuity.
Harry Belafonte Family
Belafonte was born March 1, 1927, at Lying-in Hospital in Harlem, New York, the son of Jamaican-born parents Harold George Bellanfanti Sr., a chef, and Melvine (née Love), a housekeeper. He was the son of a Scottish Jamaican mother and an Afro-Jamaican father, and his father was the son of a Black American mother and a Dutch-Jewish father of Sephardic Jewish descent. Harry, Jr. was raised as a Catholic.
Wife & Children’s
Marguerite Byrd and Belafonte were married from 1948 to 1957. They had two daughters: Adrienne Belafonte and Shari Belafonte. After Byrd became pregnant with Shari, Adrienne and her daughter Rachel Blue founded the Anir Foundation / Experience, a humanitarian organization in Southern Africa.
On March 8, 1957, Belafonte married his second wife Julie Robinson, a former dancer with the Katherine Dunham Company who was of Jewish descent. They had two children, David and Gina.
After 47 years of marriage, Belafonte and Robinson divorced. In April 2008, Belafonte married photographer Pamela Frank.
Belafonte had five grandchildren, Rachel and Brian through his children with Marguerite Byrd, and Maria, Sarafina, and Amadeus through his children with Julie Robinson. In October 1998, Belafonte contributed a letter to Liv Ullmann’s book Letter to My Grandchild.
Harry Belafonte Net Worth
Harry Belafonte’s net worth was estimated to be around $30 million at the time of his passing in 2023. While he was best known for his successful music career, Belafonte also had a long and diverse career in acting, activism, and philanthropy.
Cause of death
On April 25, 2023, Belafonte died from congestive heart failure at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, at the age of 96.
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Harry Belafonte, singer, actor and activist, has died at age 96
Singer, actor and human rights activist Harry Belafonte died Tuesday at age 96 of congestive heart failure. He broke racial barriers and balanced his activism with his artistry in ways that made people around the world listen. Belafonte, who was an EGOT holder for his Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards, died at his home in New York, his publicist announced.
Harry Belafonte was a tall and strikingly handsome man, with a height of 6 feet (183 cm) and a well-built physique throughout his career. He had a charming and magnetic presence on stage and screen, and was known for his distinctive voice and smooth, melodic singing style.
Harry Belafonte’s Notable Songs
Here are some of Harry Belafonte’s notable songs:
- “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)”: This upbeat song, also known as “The Banana Boat Song,” was included on Belafonte’s landmark album “Calypso” and became a global hit. Its catchy melody and call-and-response chorus have made it a beloved classic.
- “Jump in the Line”: This energetic song, which features Belafonte’s signature vocals and a lively beat, was released in 1961 and remains a popular party anthem.
- “Jamaica Farewell”: This melancholy ballad, which tells the story of a man leaving his lover behind in Jamaica, was one of Belafonte’s early hits and has been covered by numerous artists over the years.
- “Matilda”: This humorous song, which tells the story of a man trying to win back his unfaithful lover, features Belafonte’s lively vocals and a catchy melody.
- “Scarlet Ribbons”: This romantic ballad, which tells the story of a father searching for red ribbons to give to his daughter, was a hit for Belafonte in the late 1950s and has since been covered by many other artists.
- “Island in the Sun”: This haunting ballad, which celebrates the beauty of the Caribbean, was the title song for the 1957 film of the same name and has become a beloved classic.
- “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”: This catchy song, which features Belafonte’s vocals and a memorable melody, was a hit in the 1960s.
|Birth Name||Harold George Bellanfanti Jr.|
|Born||March 1, 1927|
|Died||April 25, 2023|
|Occupation||Singer, activist, actor|
|Years Active||1947 – 2023|
|Height||6 ft (183 cm)|
|Net Worth||$30 million|
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