Harry Belafonte was a famous singer and a leader in the fight for civil rights. His de@th makes us sad. As word of his de@th spreads, many people want to know how old he was when he d!ed. Belafonte had an amazing career lasting over 60 years, leaving a lasting mark on music and politics.
But as we think about his life and what he left behind, it’s important to remember the years he lived and the difference he made while he was here. So, let’s look at how old Harry Belafonte was when he d!ed and remember the life he lived.
Harry Belafonte De@th: The Ageless Legacy
According to the web resources, Singer, actor, and civil rights leader Harry Belafonte, who helped break down racial boundaries, p@ssed away at 96. Belafonte fought for many causes, performing worldwide classics like “Day-O” (The Banana Boat Song), earning a Tony Award for acting, and appearing in dozens of films.
He backed left-leaning political figures like Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and funded various programs in the 1960s to bring civil rights to Black Americans. According to his spokesperson for the New York Times, he d!ed of congestive heart failure. Mia Farrow, Joe Biden, and the musician Ice Cube were famous people who spoke highly of Belafonte.
Belafonte was a “groundbreaking American who used his talent and voice to help redeem the soul of our nation,” as President Obama put it. “Harry Belafonte’s accomplishments are legendary, and his legacy of outspoken advocacy, compassion, and respect for dignity will endure forever,” Biden said on Twitter.
Jill and I are saddened by the passing of a groundbreaking American who used his talent and voice to help redeem the soul of our nation.
Harry Belafonte’s accomplishments are legendary and his legacy of outspoken advocacy, compassion, and respect for dignity will endure forever.
— President Biden (@POTUS) April 25, 2023
He “inspired generations worldwide in the struggle for non-violent resistance, justice, and change,” as US news presenter Christiane Amanpour tweeted. His leadership is more important than ever before.
May Harry Belafonte, the lionhearted civil rights hero, rest in peace. He inspired generations around the whole world in the struggle for non-violent resistance justice and change. We need his example now more than ever. pic.twitter.com/oBTBBvx3ra
— Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) April 25, 2023
Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, shared a picture of Belafonte at her father’s funeral and said that he “showed up for my family in very compassionate ways. He paid for the babysitter for me and my siblings.”
The Beninese-French musician Angélique Kidjo called Belafonte “the brightest star in every sense of that word. Your passion, love, knowledge, and respect for Africa were unlimited.”
Belafonte was born into poverty in Harlem, New York, in 1927, although he spent the first eight years of his life in his parents’ home in Jamaica. He returned to New York to finish high school but dropped out as a teenager because of his dyslexia.
He worked as a market worker in the city’s garment area until enlisting in the US Navy in March 1944 at 17, eventually becoming a weapons loader at a facility in New Jersey. He saw performances at New York’s American Negro Theatre after the war (together with fellow aspiring actor Sidney Poitier) and went to work as a janitor’s helper.
He attended acting school, where his students included Marlon Brando and Walter Matthau, and used the money he made from singing folk, pop, and jazz in New York club appearances to pay for his tuition at the Actors Studio.
In 1954, he released his first record, a compilation of old-timey folk tunes. His third album, Calypso, which featured songs from his Jamaican origin, surpassed the popularity of his second album, Belafonte, which debuted at No. 1 on the new US Billboard album chart in March 1956.
Many Americans experienced the upbeat calypso style for the first time thanks to this album, which also holds the record for being the first to sell over a million copies in the United States. Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) was the album’s debut single and became a hallmark song for Belafonte, staying on the UK singles chart for 18 weeks and peaking at No. 2 for three consecutive weeks.
Later that year, his cover of Mary’s Boy Child topped the UK charts, while Island in the Sun peaked at #3. He also recorded records with Nana Mouskouri, Lena Horne, and Miriam Makeba for 31 albums. The latest album earned him one of his two Grammys; he also received a Grammy for lifetime achievement and the President’s Merit Award from the Recording Academy.
Bob Dylan’s debut recording was on Belafonte’s Midnight Special CD from 1962, when he played harmonica. Frank Sinatra had recruited Belafonte to sing at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration the year before.
In addition to his musical career, Belafonte also pursued a successful acting career, winning a Tony Award for his performance in a musical revue in 1954 for his role in John Murray Anderson’s Almanac and starring in several films, including the iconic Island in the Sun alongside James Mason, Joan Fontaine, and Joan Collins, with whom he had an affair.
He co-starred with Dorothy Dandridge in two films (Carmen Jones and Bright Road) but refused to appear in a third because he thought it would be “racially demeaning.”
He said that this choice “helped fuel the rebel spirit” and that he used his newfound fortune to pursue a lifetime of activism. In 1963, he bailed Martin Luther King Jr. out of jail in Birmingham, Alabama, and he helped organize the march on Washington that led to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
In addition to his efforts on voter registration campaigns, he supported the Freedom Riders and SNCC, activists who fought against illegal segregation in the American South. He shifted his attention to a slew of projects in Africa later on. His 1988 album, Paradise in Gazankulu, was a protest against apartheid in South Africa. He coordinated the all-star charity record.
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We Are the World raised over $63 million for hunger relief. In 1987, he was named a Unicef goodwill ambassador and later led efforts to wipe out AIDS in Africa. He raised awareness of prostate cancer after overcoming the condition himself in 1996.
He met with Castro and Chavez and staunchly supported leftist politics, criticizing the militaristic US foreign policy and advocating for disarmament. In 2006, at a meeting with Chavez, then-US President George W. Bush was called “the greatest terrorist in the world” by the Venezuelan leader.
Both Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s black secretary of state, rejected his analogy, comparing them to slaves who stayed in the master’s mansion rather than working in the fields. He frequently criticized Democrats, particularly Barack Obama, over issues including Guantanamo Bay detentions and the fight against right-wing extremism.
He criticised Jay-Z and Beyoncé in 2012 for having “turned their back on social responsibility … Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I think he is Black.” Jay-Z responded: “You’re this civil rights activist, and you just bigged up the white guy against me in the white media … that was just the wrong way to go about it.”
Even after that, he continued to perform on occasion. He has a role in the 2018 Spike Lee film BlacKkKlansman. The Paul Robeson biopic that 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen and Belafonte had planned to do together never came to fruition.
Two of Belafonte’s children, activist Adrienne and actor Shari, were born in his first marriage to Marguerite Byrd (1948–1957). With his second wife, Julie Robinson, he welcomed two more children—actress Gina and music producer David. He and Robinson split up after 47 years of marriage, and he married Pamela Frank in 2008. She is still alive.
When we learn more about his de@th, we’ll let you know. The data on talkxbox.com is up-to-date.