Harry Belafonte dies
Harry Belafonte has died at the age of 96.
The singer/actor passed away at his Manhattan home on Tuesday due to congestive heart failure, his longtime spokesman Ken Sunshine told The New York Times.
Born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr. in Harlem, New York to Caribbean-born parents, Belafonte became a huge star in the 1950s. He helped popularise calypso music, even though he later performed in many other genres such as folk, blues and American standards.
The musician was perhaps best known for songs including Day-O (The Banana Boat Song), Jump in the Line and Jamaica Farewell, while his breakthrough 1956 album Calypso is believed to be the first album by a single artist to sell more than a million copies.
In addition to his music career, Belafonte also became an actor, appearing in films such as Carmen Jones, Island in the Sun, Odds Against Tomorrow, and 2018’s BlacKkKlansman – which marked his final role.
The barrier-breaking legend was also a prominent civil rights activist and a friend and supporter of Martin Luther King Jr.
Belafonte received many honours over the course of his career, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000, a Kennedy Center Honor in 1989 and the National Medal of Arts in 1994. He was presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2014 in recognition of his civil rights activism.
The icon was married to Marguerite Byrd between 1948 and 1957, Julie Robinson from 1957 to 2004, and Pamela Frank from 2008.
Belafonte is survived by his wife Pamela, four children, two stepchildren, and eight grandchildren.