Harry Belafonte, the singer and actor, died at his home in Manhattan at the age of 96. Known for breaking the racial barriers in the US, he passed away due to congestive heart failure. During this time, his wife Pamela was by his side.
Harry Belafonte was one of the most successful African American pop stars in history with hits like The Banana Boat Song, Mary’s Boy Child, Island In The Sun and more. However, Belafonte’s campaign for black civil rights in the US remains one of his greatest successes.
5 things you need to know Harry Belafonte
1. Belafonte’s early years
Known as the King of Calypso, Harry Belafonte was the son of poor Caribbean immigrants and was born in New York in 1927. During World War II, he joined the Navy and later pursued his dream of becoming an actor by studying drama .
2. Position in billboard charts
During his music career, Belafonte recorded more than thirty albums, including collaborations with Miriam Makeba, Lena Horne, Nana Mouskouri.
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3. Acting debut
Belafonte began his Broadway career in the musical John Murray Anderson’s Almanac in 1953. He scored his first starring role in Hollywood in Island in the Sun.
4. Black civil rights champion
Harry Belafonte was an active supporter of civil rights movements, rescuing several activists from prison and taking part in marches. He also funded numerous anti-segregation organizations and was one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington.
5. Harry Belafonte’s obituary
Oprah Winfrey was one of the first to pay tribute to Belafonte, writing, “Thank you for your music, your artistry, your activism, your fight for civil rights and justice. Your presence here on earth has blessed us all.”
The singer-songwriter John Legend said, ‘We just have to thank God that we’ve had Harry Belafonte for 96 years. He used his platform in an almost subversive way, because he secretly put messages on it, revolutionary messages, when people thought he only sang about good times’.
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