Harry Belafonte, a popular musician, and civil rights advocate, passed away on Tuesday from congestive heart failure. He was responsible for igniting the calypso craze in the US with his music, but he was also an outspoken advocate for the civil rights of African-Americans.
Although he was one of the most popular African-American musicians in history, his biggest contributions to the fight for black civil rights in the US were as a campaigner.
Belafonte passed away at the age of 96 in his Manhattan residence. Pamela, his wife, was by his side.
Born in New York City in 1927, Belafonte has been entertaining audiences for over six decades. He was known for his smooth voice, infectious rhythms, and socially conscious lyrics.
In this article, we will explore Belafonte’s life, career, and net worth, as well as his activism and impact on society.
Early Life and Career
Belafonte was born in Harlem, New York, and grew up in poverty. His mother was a Jamaican immigrant who worked as a domestic, and his father was a cook who left the family when Belafonte was young.
Despite his difficult upbringing, Belafonte was a talented student and athlete. He attended George Washington High School in Manhattan and later served in the United States Navy during World War II.
After leaving the Navy, Belafonte pursued a career in acting and singing. He started performing in small clubs in New York City and quickly gained a following. In 1954, he released his first album, “Mark Twain and Other Folk Favorites,” which featured traditional folk songs and spirituals. The album was a hit, and Belafonte became a household name.
Success As An Entertainer
Belafonte continued to release hit albums throughout the 1950s and 1960s. He was known for his unique blend of folk, calypso, and jazz music, as well as his dynamic stage presence. He became the first artist to sell over a million copies of a single album with “Calypso,” which featured the hit song “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).”
In addition to his music career, Belafonte also appeared in several films and television shows. He starred in the films “Carmen Jones” and “Island in the Sun” and hosted his own television special, “The Harry Belafonte Show.”
Harry Belafonte’s Net Worth
According to Celebrity Net Worth, as of 2023, Harry Belafonte’s net worth is estimated to be $30 million. This wealth comes from his successful career as a singer, actor, and producer, as well as his investments and other business ventures.
Harry Belafonte Awards And Recognitions
Harry Belafonte had been recognized throughout his career with numerous awards and honors for his contributions to the entertainment industry and social activism.
Here are some of his most notable awards:
- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2000)
- Kennedy Center Honors (1989)
- National Medal of Arts (1994)
- NAACP Image Award – Chairman’s Award (1996)
- BET Humanitarian Award (2005)
- Marian Anderson Award (2011)
- International Civil Rights Walk of Fame (2012)
- Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (2014)
Belafonte has also been inducted into several halls of fame, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1989), the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame (2012), and the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame (2015). In addition, he has received honorary degrees from several universities, including Berklee College of Music and Dartmouth College.
Social Activism of Harry Belafonte
Despite his success as an entertainer, Belafonte was also deeply committed to social activism. He was a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr. and was heavily involved in the civil rights movement. He participated in marches and protests and used his platform to raise awareness about racial inequality and social injustice.
Belafonte also became involved in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. He helped to organize the “Sun City” project, a musical protest against the apartheid regime. He also worked with Nelson Mandela and other leaders to promote democracy and human rights in South Africa.
Harry Belafonte’s Personal Life
Harry Belafonte has been married three times in his life.
Belafonte’s first marriage was to Marguerite Byrd in 1948, and they had two daughters together, Adrienne and Shari. However, the marriage ended in divorce in 1957.
In 1957, Belafonte married his second wife, Julie Robinson, a former dancer with the Katherine Dunham Company. They had two children, David and Gina, before divorcing in 2008 after more than 50 years of marriage.
Belafonte’s third and current wife was Pamela Frank, whom he married in 2008 after his divorce from Julie Robinson.
Belafonte’s Impact on Society
Belafonte’s contributions to society have been immense. He used his platform as an entertainer to bring attention to important social issues, and his activism helped to inspire a generation of civil rights activists. He was also a trailblazer for black entertainers, breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations.
In recognition of his contributions, Belafonte had received numerous awards and honors throughout his career. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton in 1994 and was inducted into the Kennedy Center Honors in 1989. He was also awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2014 Academy Awards.
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