Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Harry Belafonte Biography

Birth Name:
Harold George Belafonte Jr.
Birth Place:
New York, New York, United States
Singer, actor, activist

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


  • 2007Critics' Choice Awards-Best Acting Ensemble: nominated
  • 2006Screen Actors Guild Awards-Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: nominated
  • 1996New York Film Critics Circle-Best Supporting Actor: winner
  • 1971Emmy-Outstanding Single Program - Variety or Musical: nominated
  • 1961Emmy-Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series: nominated
  • 1960Emmy-Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program: winner