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Harry Belafonte

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Information about Harry Belafonte

Profile image of Harry Belafonte

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
EntertainmentMakers
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Activist
Actor
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
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Favorite Quote:
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Birthplace

Born:
3/1/1927
Birth Location:
New York, New York

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
EntertainmentMakers
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Activist
Actor
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
3/1/1927
Birth Location:
New York
See how Harry Belafonte is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Born to immigrant parents in Harlem on March 1, 1927, Harry Belafonte spent much of his youth in his mother's home country of Jamaica. Though difficult, life in Jamaica was full of rich cultural experiences that influenced Belafonte's art.

At the beginning of World War II, Belafonte returned to Harlem with his mother and brother. He had trouble integrating into the new environment and later dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Navy. After Belafonte was honorably discharged, he went back to New York, where he worked odd jobs until two free tickets to the American Negro Theatre (A.N.T.) changed his life.

Belafonte auditioned for the A.N.T. and earned his first leading role in Juno and the Paycock. In 1953, he made his film debut opposite Dorothy Dandridge in Bright Road. He won a Tony in 1954 for his performance in Almanac. At the same time, Belafonte developed his singing talents, having parlayed a series of nightclub performances into a record contract. His third album, Calypso, topped the charts for thirty-one consecutive weeks and was the first record to sell more than 1 million copies. Belafonte also secured a television outlet with his hour-long special, Tonight with Belafonte, which won him an Emmy. He became the first African American TV producer and his company, HarBel, went on to produce one Emmy nominee after another.

In the early 1950s, Belafonte developed a strong relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Belafonte worked tirelessly to mobilize artists in support of the civil rights movement. In 1985, he again rallied the global artistic community to raise awareness of the famines, wars and droughts plaguing many African nations. USA for Africa raised more than $60 million for this cause with "We Are the World" and Hands Across America. A longtime anti-apartheid activist, Belafonte hosted former South African President Nelson Mandela on his triumphant visit to the United States. Belafonte has maintained his commitment to service as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Sponsors of Harry Belafonte interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Introduction to 'An Evening With Harry Belafonte'
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Danny Glover introduces Harry Belafonte as he enters the auditorium
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harry Belafonte talks about his early life in the United States and his subsequent move to Jamaica
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harry Belafonte talks about his family's return to the United States
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Harry Belafonte discusses his Navy experiences during World War II
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Harry Belafonte talks about his experiences in the theater after leaving the Navy
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - A series of television and movie clips of Harry Belafonte
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Harry Belafonte recalls his first encounter with Sidney Poitier
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Harry Belafonte details his foray into a professional singing career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - A series of television clips of Harry Belafonte singing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Harry Belafonte details his response to Ed Sullivan after being blacklisted
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Harry Belafonte talks about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his involvement with the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - A series of Harry Belafonte's acting roles that show glimpses of his social activism
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Harry Belafonte talks about the fallout from his involvement in the plight of Nelson Mandela in the 1960s
  • Tape: 1 Story: 16 - A series of Harry Belafonte's movie roles from the 1970s to the present
  • Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Harry Belafonte gives his views about the world's current racial and social problems
  • Tape: 1 Story: 18 - Film clips showing Harry Belafonte's current humanitarian activities, family and friends
  • Tape: 1 Story: 19 - Harry Belafonte talks about how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 1 Story: 20 - Closing credits from Harry Belafonte interview