Iconic Singer Harry Belafonte Passed Away At 96
via New York Post / Youtube
Iconic singer, actor, and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte has passed away at the age of 96 at his Manhattan home due to congestive heart failure, according to his representative, Ken Sunshine.
Belafonte first rose to fame in the 1950s. He popularized calypso music in the 1950s with his hit song “Banana Boat Song” (also known as “Day-O”). The infectious rhythm and catchy lyrics captivated audiences and became a cultural phenomenon. The song was featured in the film “Beetlejuice,” and its enduring popularity continues to bring joy to listeners today.
A New York City native with Jamaican-born parents, he drew inspiration from Caribbean sounds in his music. His breakout record, Calypso, became the first album to sell over a million copies in a single year, making music history.
As a result of his musical achievements, he became a highly sought-after talent in Hollywood, securing prominent roles in films such as Carmen Jones, Island in the Sun, and Odds Against Tomorrow. His musical popularity translated into a thriving acting career, and he swiftly established himself as a respected actor in the film industry.
He shared a deep bond of friendship with fellow actor Sidney Poitier, with whom he co-starred in several iconic 1970s films, including Uptown Saturday Night and Buck and the Preacher. Their on-screen chemistry and dynamic performances in these films are considered classics, and they were widely recognized for their contributions to the entertainment industry.
Musician and Advocate
Belafonte, known for his prominent role as an entertainer, is equally celebrated for his contributions as a civil rights leader and human rights activist. In the 60s, he was often seen marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and he was a leading figure in the fight against famine in Africa.
He is one of the main organizers of the iconic charity record “We Are the World” in 1985, which commanded immense respect among the gathering of superstar musicians. In fact, during the late-night recording session, his influence was so palpable that the entire room spontaneously erupted into a rendition of “Day-O,” creating an unforgettable and incredibly cool moment.
His Last Appearance
Recently, in December, he was honored by the French government with the National Order of the Legion of Honour. In addition to his wife Pamela, he also leaves behind two stepchildren, four biological children, including actress Shari Belafonte, and numerous grandchildren.