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Harry Belafonte Fast Facts

Here is a look at the life of Harry Belafonte, civil rights activist and award winning singer and actor....

Posted: Dec 29, 2018 8:35 AM
Updated: Dec 29, 2018 8:36 AM

Here is a look at the life of Harry Belafonte, civil rights activist and award winning singer and actor.

Birth date: March 1, 1927

Awards and prizes


Civil rights

Emmy Awards

Entertainment and arts awards

Harry Belafonte

Television awards

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Grammy Awards

Fast Facts

Sidney Portier

New York (State)

New York City

North America

Northeastern United States

United States

Marlon Brando

Continents and regions

Misc people

The Americas

Birth place: New York, New York

Birth name: Harold George Belafonte Jr.

Father: Harold George Belafonte

Mother: Melvine (Love) Belafonte

Marriages: Pamela Frank (April 2008-present); Julie Robinson (March 8, 1957-unavailable publicly, divorced); Marguerite Byrd (June 18, 1948-February 28, 1957, divorced)

Children: with Julie Robinson: Gina and David; with Marguerite Byrd: Shari and Adrienne

Military service: US Navy, 1943-1945

Other Facts:
Won three Grammy Awards and a Tony Award.

Nominated for four Emmy Awards and won one.

His most famous recording is "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" from 1957.

His father was from Martinique and his mother was from Jamaica.

Attended classes at the Dramatic Workshop with Marlon Brando and Bea Arthur.

First artist to sell a million copies of an album - "Calypso" in 1956.

1946 - Has the lead role in "Days of Our Youth" at Harlem's American Negro Theater. His understudy is Sidney Poitier.

April 17, 1953 - His first feature film, "Bright Road," opens.

1954 - Wins a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor - Musical for "John Murray Anderson's Almanac."

1960 - Emmy winner for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program - "Revlon Revue," the first African-American to win an Emmy.

1960 - Grammy winner for Best Performance - Folk for "Swing Dat Hammer."

1961 - Grammy winner for Best Folk Recording for "Belafonte Folk Singers At Home And Abroad."

1965 - Grammy winner Best Folk Recording for "An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba," shared with Miriam Makeba.

1987-present - UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

1989 - Receives the Kennedy Center Honors.

1994 - Receives the National Medal of the Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts.

1996-1997 - Is successfully treated for prostate cancer.

October 15, 2002 - On "Larry King Live," Belafonte compares Secretary of State Colin Powell to a plantation house slave for his role in the George W. Bush administration. "Colin Powell was permitted to come into the house of the master."

January 8, 2006 - CNN reports that Belafonte called President George W. Bush the "greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world," while talking to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez live on the radio in Caracas, Venezuela.

May 15, 2010 - Along with Willie Mays and Billie Jean King, is honored with Major League Baseball's Beacon Award in "recognition for their lifetime efforts in the area of civil rights."

January 20, 2011 - "Sing Your Song," a documentary of Belafonte's musical career and civil rights activism, premieres at the Sundance Film Festival.

October 2011 - New book "My Song: A Memoir" and new CD "Sing Your Song: The Music" are released.

October 10, 2012 - Half-brother Raymond Wright sues Belafonte for libel and invasion of privacy over his book, "My Song: A Memoir," in the Southern District Court of New York.

October 15, 2013 - Belafonte sues the estate of Martin Luther King Jr. to establish ownership of three documents, allegedly given to him by Martin Luther King Jr., which he attempted to sell at an auction in 2008. It is said that Belafonte used to provide support for the children so King could pursue his activism.

March 31, 2014 - The case against Belafonte filed by his half-brother is dismissed by the court.

April 11, 2014 - Belafonte and King's estate announce that they have settled their 2013 federal case. Belafonte retains possession of the documents allegedly given to him by Martin Luther King Jr.

October 1-2, 2016 - His "Many Rivers to Cross" social justice music and arts festival is held in Atlanta.

January 21, 2017 - Is named Honorary Co-Chair of the Women's March on Washington.

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