HARRY BELAFONTE BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Harry Belafonte was born on March 1st, 1927 in New York City, New York with the birth name Harold George Belafonte Jr. His parents were Melvine and Harold George Bellanfanti Sr. As a child during 1932 through 1940 his grandmother raised him in Jamaica until he reached high school age, he then relocated back to New York City and attended high school at George Washington High.
Upon earning his high school diploma, Belafonte went on to join the United States Navy and served his country during World War II. He soon developed an interest in the arts after attending his first theatrical experience. By the end of the 1940's, he decided to study acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York City.
To help cover the expenses of acting he found work as a singer at a number of night clubs. His music varied from pop, blue, gospel and folk music. In 1952 he was offered a recording contract with RCA Victor.
In 1956 he had an album, "Calypso" which introduced Americans to Calypso music. Some of his more popular songs were, "Banana Boat Song" and "Jump in the Line".
After studying the art of acting, he found work with the American Negro Theatre and soon was appearing on Broadway in such productions as, "Three for Tonight" and, "John Murray Anderson's Almanac", for which he earned a Tony Award.
His music career continued along with stage acting and he even did some television appearances such as starring in, "Tonight with Belafonte" in 1959 for which he won an Emmy. Other albums he released and added to his credits over his course of his career in music were, "Jump Up Calypso", "Swing Dat Hammer", "An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba", "Midnight Special" and his final album with RCA, "Belafonte at the Greek Theatre" in 1964. in total he earned six Gold Records and a number of Grammy Awards.
Harry later signed a record deal with EMI and continued to make music. His album, "The Long Road to Freedom, An Anthology of Black Music" was released in 2001 by Island records and was nominated for a Grammy in 2002.
In addition to his work as a musician and stage actor, Belafonte also had a decent career in television and films. His first rile was in, "Bright Road" (1953), followed by roles in such films as, "Carmen Jones" (1954), "Island in the Sun" (1957), "Odds Against Tomorrow" (1959), "Buck and the Preacher" (1972) and "Uptown Saturday Night" (1974).
His entire career in entertainment alternated from concentrating on music to films. He also produced a number of films such as, "The Angels Levine" (1970), "Buck and the Preacher" (1972), "Beat Street" (1984), the television movie, "The Affair" (1995) and the television mini series, "Parting the Waters" (2000).
Some of his latest film roles were in, "White Man's Burden" (1995), "Kansas City" (1996), "PB&J Otter" (1999), the television drama, "Swing Vote" (1999) and his final role in 2006 in, "Bobby".
Harry has married a total of three times, first to Marguerite Belafonte from 1948 through 1957 and together the couple had two children. He then married his second wife, Julie Robinson in 1957 and they had three children together before this marriage also ended in divorce. His current wife is Pamela Frank whom he wed in 2008.
Throughout his entire life he has been very active in politics and humanitarian rights and feels very strongly about racial prejudice issues. He was a strong supporter of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950's and was involved in financing the, Freedom Rides as well as assisted in organizing the, March on Washington in 1963 which culminated in the famous speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have a Dream". He was also very involved in organizing the famous song, "We are the World" in 1985 that won a Grammy and raised fund for Africa. Belafonte also supported the campaign against HIV/AIDS in 2001 in South Africa and was very active in the anti-apartheid movement. He was an ambassador for the Bahamas and is a current board member of the TransAfrica Forum and Institute for Policy Studies.
Belafonte is still involved in the entertainment industry now owning his own music publishing firm and film production company, Belafonte Enterprises Inc. which his son David is employed as the executive director.
He has also received numerous honors and awards throughout his lifetime, some of which include being a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1989, being awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994 and winning a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. He was also awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to Recording.
1999 PB&J Otter
1999 Swing Vote
1996 Kansas City
1995 White Man's Burden
1981 Grambling's White Tiger
1974 Uptown Saturday Night
1973 The CBS Festival of Lively Arts for Young People
1972 Buck and the Preacher
1970 The Angel Levine
1959 Odds Against Tomorrow
1959 The World, the Flesh and the Devil
1957 Island in the Sun
1955 G.E. True Theater
1955 Front Row Center
1954 Carmen Jones
1953 Bright Road