Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from A-E

Belafonte, Harry (1927–)

rights white civil television

BELAFONTE, HARRY (1927–). Singer, actor, civil rights activist. Harry Belafonte was born in New York City and spent time growing up in his parent’s homeland of Jamaica. He returned to New York to go to high school, and soon after, he joined the U. S. Navy in 1944. After his discharge, Belafonte became a maintenance man for an apartment building and began to study acting. He studied at the Stanley Kubrick Dramatic Workshop, and at the New School for Social Research, but a successful singing engagement at The Royal Roost, a Broadway jazz club, inspired him to change his focus. He began singing folk music at the Village Vangard and the Blue Angel and helped to give it a mass appeal, especially calypso. Belafonte appeared in his first movie in 1953, Bright Road , opposite another newcomer named Dorothy Dandridge. The on screen fire between the two inspired Hollywood to team them up again in Otto Preminger’s Carmen Jones , 1954. They became the first African American romantic duo. Belafonte became the first African American performer to have his own television special, which won him two Emmy Awards, but a national furor erupted when white British singer Petula Clark touched his arm during a musical number. A devoted civil rights activist, Belafonte marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on Montgomery, Alabama, and brought a contingent of other high-profile Hollywood celebrities to the 1968 March on Washington. With many record albums, films, and television appearances to his credit, he has received numerous awards and honors, including the 1982 MLK Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize, three honorary doctorates, the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993, and the National Medal of Arts in 1994. He continues to work in film, television, and stage, and remains an active advocate for civil rights.

Filmography: Bright Road , 1952; Carmen Jones , 1954; Island in the Sun , 1957; Odds Against Tomorrow , 1959; The Angel Levine , 1970; Buck and the Preacher , 1972; Uptown Saturday Night , 1974; Grambling’s White Tiger , 1981; The Player , 1992; Ready to Wear , 1994; White Man’s Burden , 1995; Kansas City , 1995.

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or