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Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte

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Also Known As: Harold George Belafonte Jr. Died:
Born: March 1, 1927 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: singer, actor, music arranger, producer, composer, janitor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Multi-talented actor and musician Harry Belafonte was the first black performer to win an Emmy Award and the first recording artist to sell over a million copies of an album, though he was doubtlessly most proud of his longstanding work as an activist in international fights against racism, violence and world hunger. Belafonte got his start in New York theater, but his sideline as a nightclub singer propelled his mainstream breakout when his 1954 album Calypso popularized the music of his Jamaican heritage and hit number one on the charts. A respected authority on international folk music and a world-touring performer, Belafonte also enjoyed a career as an actor and producer, where he was involved in important early African-American productions including "Carmen Jones" (1954), in which he starred alongside Dorothy Dandridge, and Lorraine Hansberry's landmark play "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black," which he produced. Whatever the nature of the work, Belafonte's style remained solid - the casual friendliness and warm, jaunty humor were sincere; the fierceness and intensity often surprising.

Multi-talented actor and musician Harry Belafonte was the first black performer to win an Emmy Award and the first recording artist to sell over a million copies of an album, though he was doubtlessly most proud of his longstanding work as an activist in international fights against racism, violence and world hunger. Belafonte got his start in New York theater, but his sideline as a nightclub singer propelled his mainstream breakout when his 1954 album Calypso popularized the music of his Jamaican heritage and hit number one on the charts. A respected authority on international folk music and a world-touring performer, Belafonte also enjoyed a career as an actor and producer, where he was involved in important early African-American productions including "Carmen Jones" (1954), in which he starred alongside Dorothy Dandridge, and Lorraine Hansberry's landmark play "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black," which he produced. Whatever the nature of the work, Belafonte's style remained solid - the casual friendliness and warm, jaunty humor were sincere; the fierceness and intensity often surprising.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
4.
 Sing Your Song (2011)
5.
 Bobby (2006)
6.
 Fidel (2001) Himself
7.
 Swing Vote (1999) Justice Dunn
8.
 Kansas City (1996) Seldom Seen
9.
 White Man's Burden (1995) Thaddeus Thomas
10.
 Ready to Wear (1994) Himself
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1944:
Joined the Navy at age 17; discharged in 1945
:
Stage debut with American Negro Theatre in "Juno and the Paycock"
1949:
TV debut as series regular on CBS black musical revue, "Sugar Hill Times"
1950:
Performed as nightclub singer at the Royal Roost and the Village Vanguard in NYC
1953:
Appeared on Broadway in "John Murray Anderson's Almanac"
1953:
Made film acting debut in a leading role in "Bright Road"
1955:
Returned to Broadway to star in "Three for Tonight", a musical review co-starring Marge and Gower Champion
1955:
Co-starred with Marge and Gower Champion on the CBS variety special, "Three for Tonight", adapted from their Broadway success
1955:
Released first record album, "Calypso"; according to some sources, was the first album in recording history to sell over a million copies
1959:
Formed Harbel Productions; first film as executive producer, "Odds Against Tomorrow", directed by Robert Wise; also starred in the film; last feature film role for 11 years
1959:
First performed live at Carnegie Hall in concert on April 19 and 20
1959:
First solo TV special, "Tonight With Belafonte"
1960:
Played a then-record-breaking 14 weeks at the Palace Theater in concert (date approximate)
1965:
TV producing debut, "The Strolling '20s"
:
Formed another production company, Belafonte Enterprises
1969:
Off-Broadway stage producing debut, Lorraine Hansberry's "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black"
1969:
Began hosting TV specials again with "An Evening with Julie Andrews and Harry Belafonte" and "Harry and Lena" (with Lena Horne)
1970:
Returned to feature acting in the title role of "The Angel Levine"
1981:
TV-movie acting debut, "Grambling's White Tiger"
1984:
Produced a second feature film, the musical "Beat Street"; also supplied additional music and served as music producer; son David also earned a credit for sound recording
1985:
First TV producing credit: executive producing the HBO concert special, "Harry Belafonte: Don't Stop the Carnival", in which he also starred
1985:
Helped bring together 45 performing artists to record the hit single, "We Are the World"; benefits from the song were used to help meet emergency food and health needs in Africa
1985:
Hosted the CBS documentary and music special, "We Are the World: A Year of Giving"
1987:
Co-produced the Broadway drama, "Asinamali!", about life in prison in South Africa
1990:
Hosted and narrated the three-part PBS documentary miniseries, "Routes of Rhythm with Harry Belafonte", a study of Afro-Cuban music
:
Made cameo appearances as himself in two films directed by Robert Altman, "The Player" (1992) and "Ready to Wear/Pret-a-Porter"
1995:
Executive produced first TV-movie, "The Affair", presented on HBO
1995:
First significant feature film acting role in over 20 years, "White Man's Burden"
1996:
Co-starred in Altman's "Kansas City"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Actors Studio: New York , New York -
Dramatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research: New York , New York -
American Negro Theatre: New York , New York -

Notes

In 1996, Belafonte successfully underwent treatment for prostate cancer.

Was made UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 1987.

Awarded honorary Doctor of the Arts degree from the New School for Social Research in 1968.

Received the Dag Hammerskjold Peace Medal (1981)

Awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize (1982)

He was awarded honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Park College (1987)

He has received the honorary Doctorate of Music from Morehouse College (1987)

Awarded honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree from SUNY, Purchase (1987)

Received the Leader for Peace Award from the Peace Corps (1988)

Received the Nelson Mandela Courage Award given by the Washington DC-based Trans-Africa Forum (1990)

He also received the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award (1993).

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Marguerite Mazique. Psychologist. Married 1948; divorced; mother of Adrienne and Shari Belafonte.
wife:
Julie Robinson. Married March 8, 1957; mother of David and Gina Belafonte.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Harold George Belafonte. Seaman.
mother:
Melvine Belafonte. Domestic. Jamaican.
daughter:
Adrienne Belafonte. Counselor. Born c. 1951; mother Marguerite Belafonte.
daughter:
Shari Belafonte. Actor, singer, model. Born September 22, 1954; motehr Marguerite Belafonte.
son:
David Belafonte. Executive. Runs production company; born c. 1959; mother Julie Robinson.
daughter:
Gina Belafonte. Actor. Born c. 1962; mother Julie Robinson.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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