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