His publicist told that Harry Belafonte dies at 96. He was a singer and actor who broke new ground and became a civil rights star. Ken Sunshine, Belafonte's longtime publicist, said that he died of congestive heart failure at his home in New York City on Tuesday morning. Belafonte was a famous actor and singer who broke new ground in the music business in the 1950s.
Harry Belafonte, a civil rights and entertainment giant who started out as a groundbreaking actor and singer and later became an activist, humanitarian, and the soul of the world, has died. He was 96. Belafonte died on Tuesday in his New York home of congestive heart failure. His wife Pamela was with him, according to agent Ken Sunshine.
Belafonte was one of the first black actorsand singersto get a lot of attention and sell a million records. His face was beautiful and he had a smooth, husky voice. Many people still remember Belafonte's biggest hit, "Banana Boat (Day-O)," a traditional Jamaican folk song from his groundbreaking studio record "Calypso," which was the first LP to sell more than a million copies.
Other hit songs on the album included "Jamaica Farewell," which is now thought to have brought Caribbean sounds to popular pop music in the United States. After jumping quickly to No. 1 on Billboard's "Top 100" list, "Calypso" stayed at the top of the charts for 31 straight weeks after its release. But he left a bigger mark on the world after he cut back on acting in the 1960s and followed the advice of his hero Paul Robeson that artists are "gatekeepers of truth."
Belafonte's rise to world fame led to a long career in television, movies, and music that lasted decades. He was an EGOT, which is a term for someone who has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award. He also won the Kennedy Center Honors in 1989 and the National Medal of Arts in 1994.
Belafonte was born in Harlem on March 1, 1927. He grew up in New York City after his family moved there from Jamaica, where they had lived for a few years. Belafonte's success as a Caribbean-American in Hollywood and beyond was historic in and of itself, but he also made a name for himself as a civil rights fighter.
He became a vocal supporter of the Civil Rights Movement and a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Belafonte helped plan the 1963 March on Washington and was a supporter of causes like the fight against apartheid, women's rights, criminal justice, and climate change for the rest of his life. He was also a UNICEF and American Civil Liberties Union representative.
In 1989, he was given the Kennedy Center Honor, and in 1994, he was given the National Medal of the Arts. "My Song," which Belafonte wrote with Michael Shnayerson, came out in 2011. The historical film "Sing Your Song" about Susanne Rostock came out in early 2012. He is survived by his third wife, Pamela, his daughters Shari, Adrienne, and Gina, his son David, his stepchildren Sarah and Lindsey, and eight grandkids.
Harry Belafonte broke down barriers as a singer, actor, and civil rights activist. He once said that he was "the most popular Jew in America" because of how he sang a Hebrew classic. Harry Belafonte dies at 96 on Tuesday at his longtime home on the Upper West Side.
Belafonte died of heart failure which made his heart swell up. He is survived by his two children with Robinson, Adrienne Biesemeyer and Shari Belafonte, as well as his two children with his first wife, Marguerite Byrd, and two grandkids. After getting a divorce from Robinson in 2004, he married photographer Pamela Frank in 2008. Frank, his stepdaughters Sarah Frank and Lindsey Frank, and his three stepgrandchildren all live on.