Fast Facts

  • Spent a good deal of his childhood in Jamaica. 
  • Enlisted in the Navy after a learning disability caused him to discontinue his high-school education.
  • Was encouraged by his mentor and fellow entertainer Paul Robeson to urge an audience to join in singing songs with him.  
  • Cinematic debut was in the 1953 drama Bright Road.
  • Made recording history in 1956 when his third album, Calypso, sold more than one million copies. It was the first 33 1/3 rpm LP by a solo artist to sell one million copies. The LP included the hits "Day-O (Banana Boat Song)" and "Jamaica Farewell."
  • Became the first African-American TV producer with 1960's Tonight With Harry Belafonte; the program won an Emmy.
  • Appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF in March 1987.   
  • Recipient of many accolades including Kennedy Center Honors in 1989, National Medal of the Arts in 1994 and BET Humanitarian Award in 2006.


  • 1961, Emmy — Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series: Nominee
  • 1960, Emmy — Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program: Winner
  • 1956, Emmy — Best Male Singer: Nominee
  • 1956, Emmy — Best Specialty Act - Single or Group: Nominee
  • 1954, Tony — Actor, Supporting or Featured (Musical): Winner
  • 1971, Emmy — Outstanding Single Program - Variety or Musical: Nominee
  • 2006, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 2014, Oscar — Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: Winner
  • 2007, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Acting Ensemble: Nominee


  • Shari Belafonte — Daughter
  • David Michael Belafonte — Son
  • Julie Robinson — Ex-wife
  • Marguerite Byrd — Ex-wife
  • Gina Belafonte — Daughter
  • Adrienne Belafonte Biesemeyer — Daughter
  • Pamela Belafonte — Wife
  • Melvine Belafonte — Mother
  • Jane Love — Grandmother
  • Harold George Belafonte Sr. — Father

Next On TVSee all »


  • Birth Name: Harold George Belafonte Jr.
  • Birth Place: New York, NY
  • Profession: Singer, Actor, Activist

Trending TonightSee all »

Watch This

Orlando Jones
Orlando Jones Pitches a Sleepy Hollow/Supernatural Spin-Off

Slaying the enemies of Jesus with the angel Castiel