Famous singer and actor of the folk music scene in the 1950s, Harry Belafonte made his impact on the world with his powerful songs, his incredible performances with his films, and his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.
Harry Belafonte Bio
Harry Belafonte was born March 1, 1927 in New York, New York. Belafonte’s parents were emigrants of the Carribean islands. After some time in New York, his mother decided to return to Jamaica in 1935, in which Harry followed and they lived there until 1940. When Harry was in high school, he decided to leave and join the U.S Navy. After giving his service to his country, Harry got started on his singing career when he moved back to New York City, where he studied drama.
It was not until 1950 when Belafonte made his big break as a folk singer. He became known as “King of Calypso”, with his popular songs “Day-O (Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell”. Calypso is a genre of music that has an African theme and it usually involves improvising words. Even if one has never heard of Harry Belafonte, they probably have heard of his popular song within the Calypso genre called “Jump the Line (Shake Senora)”, which was released in 1961. He also involved himself with Broadway musicals, winning a Tony award for a supporting role in the musical John Murray Anderson’s Almanac. He also starred in other musicals and had the lead role. Some of his musicals include Bright Road, Carmen Jones, and Island in the Sun. In the 1970s, he continued to star in films like The Angel Levine, Buck and the Preacher, Uptown Saturday Night, The Player, Kansas City, and Bobby. People loved to see him on the screen not only because of his looks, but also his unmistakable passion for his work. Belafonte also received a Grammy award for an album he wrote called “Swing Dat Hammer” in 1960. Besides acting and singing, Belafonte became a successful television producer, in which he was the first African American to do so.
Harry Belafonte Wives
Harry Belafonte married his first wife, Marguite Byrd, in June of 1948. Marguite, like Harry, is also an actress. She is known for Night of Quarter Moon (1959). Together, they had two daughters named Adrienne and Shari. Unfortunately, Harry and Marguite had a rough marriage and it ended in divorce. In 1957, Belafonte got remarried to a woman named Julie Robinson. Julie was also an actress and a costume designer. She is well known for her films Lust for Life (1956), A Safe Place (1971), and Mambo (1954). With Julie, Belafonte had a son, David, and a daughter, Gina. After his second failed marriage, Harry got married for his third time to American violinist, Pamela Frank. Pamela is a performer in the film Immortal Beloved. She has also won many awards for her talent as a violinist. Together, her and Harry continue to live in New York.
Harry Belafonte Children
David Belafonte, Harry’s son, was born on September 30, 1957. Like his father, he was also a producer and an actor. David is most known for his production of the film Squatters (2014) and An Evening with Harry Belafonte and Friends (1997). Gina Belafonte, Harry’s daughter, was born September 8, 1961. She was also an actress and a producer. She is most well known for her television series “The Commish”. She also played in other films like All My Children and Bright Lights, Big City. According to Gina, she believes her father gained his success from not giving up. She says that he is admirable because even at his age, he is still out there, fighting for what he believes in and trying to make things right. Gina also mentions that her father, like everyone else, is not perfect. However, he is still an inspiration to many people because he never stops trying to make the world better. Harry Belafonte’s other two daughters, Adrienne and Shari, are also involved with acting and singing, like their other siblings.
As mentioned before, Harry Belafonte was also a supporter and activist of the Civil Rights Movement. He was well-known for being outspoken and standing up for what he believes is right. He even considered Martin Luther King Jr. as a close friend and was there at the time when he gave his “I Had a Dream” speech. Harry and Martin Luther King Jr. had many of the same beliefs, which allowed them to work together. Belafonte participated in rallies and protests alongside his fellow Americans. He believed that nonviolence was the only way to make a change for African Americans. Besides African Americans, he also supported the American Indians. He became involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Council and provided them with financial support. In the 1980s, it was Belafonte’s idea to gather up other celebrities and record a song to provide famine relief in Africa. The song was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie, titled “We are the World”. The song became a very popular hit and was able to raise millions of dollars to help Africa. Also helping with charity work, in 2014, Harry Belafonte was awarded with the Jean Hersholt’s humanitarian award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Harry Belafonte’s Net Worth
With all of his projects and contributions, it is easy to understand that Harry Belafonte’s net worth is about 22 million dollars. Although he does not flaunt his worth and is very humble, he has worked hard his whole life to earn it.
On March 1, 2017, Harry turned 90 years old. Reaching 90 is a milestone within itself but not many 90-year-olds have been able to do the things that Harry has done. He has taught people of the future generations to never stop fighting and to continue on trying to make a difference in the world. He has made his mark on history forever and will be remembered by not only providing entertainment with his music and films, but by also helping others that are struggling and standing up for what he believes in.