Singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte has died at the age of 96

Singer and actor Harry Belafonte, who broke racial barriers in America, has died at his Manhattan home at the age of 96. One of the most successful African-American pop stars of all time, he had hits with Island In The Sun, Mary’s Boy Child, and UK number one Day-O (The Banana Boat Song). His greatest achievement, however, was as a black civil rights activist in the United States. A spokesman for Ken Sunshine said he died of congestive heart failure.

Actress Mia Farrow was one of the first to pay tribute to Belafonte, remembering her as a “beautiful singer” and “a deeply moral and caring person”. “I already miss you,” she tweeted. Belafonte, often referred to as King Calypso, was born in 1927 in Harlem, New York. After dropping out of high school, he joined the Navy during World War II and served as an ammunition loader at a base in New Jersey. After the war, he pursued his dream of becoming an actor, studying drama at Erwin Piscator’s renowned drama school with actors such as Marlon Brando, Walter Matthews, and Tony Curtis.

He paid for singing lessons at New York clubs backed by bands that included Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. This led to a recording contract, and in search of material, Belafonte began researching the folk song archives at the Library of Congress, settling on the music of Calypso, with whom his parents grew up. This turned out to be a smart move. The handsome young star sparked a craze for the genre with songs like Jamaica Farewell and Day-O (a song about Caribbean dockers), both of which appeared on his third album, Calypso. Released in 1956, it topped the Billboard charts and became the first album by a solo artist to sell over one million copies in the United States. It was his success that made him the first black man to perform at many prestigious venues in the United States, including those where artists such as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald were banned.

He made his Broadway debut in the 1953 John Murray Anderson musical Almanac, for which he won a Tony Award for Supporting Actor. He then appeared in films, playing his first leading role in Island in the Sun, where he co-starred with James Mason, Joan Fontaine and Joan Collins, with whom he had an affair. During his career, he has recorded more than 30 albums, including collaborations with Nana Mouskouri, Lena Horne and Miriam Makeba.

Bob Dylan made his first recorded appearance playing the harmonica on Belafonte’s 1962 album Midnight Special. 11/20/96 profile photo of Harry Belafonte and his wife Julie Robinson arriving for the premiere of his new film Kansas City PA MEDIA A close friend of Martin Luther King, he’s an obvious supporter of civil rights movement, who funded numerous anti-apartheid organizations and released Dr. King and other activists from prison.

Belafonte said in a National Public Radio interview in 2011. “I say to them, `I was long an activist before I became an artist.’” Even in his late 80s, Belafonte was still speaking out on race and income equality and urged President Barack Obama to do more to help the poor. Fiercely left-wing, he campaigned against nuclear armament, and caused controversy in 2006 when, in a meeting with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, he described US president George W Bush as “the greatest terrorist in the world”.

Belafonte also compared Bush`s secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, both of whom were black, to slaves who worked in their master`s house rather than in the fields. Statements like those made the star a frequent target of criticism, but he continued to be honored for his artistry and humanitarian work. Among his many honors, Belafonte was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors in 1989 and the National Medal of Arts in 1994. , Grammy, Oscar, Tony. Belafonte has been married three times. He and his first wife, Marguerite Bird, had two children, including actress and model Shari Belafonte. He also had two children with his second wife, Julia Robinson, a former dancer.

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