Belafonte, Harry, 1927-

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Born to immigrant parents in Harlem on March 1, 1927, Harry Belafonte spent much of his youth in his mother's home country of Jamaica. Though difficult, life in Jamaica was full of rich cultural experiences that influenced Belafonte's art.

At the beginning of World War II, Belafonte returned to Harlem with his mother and brother. He had trouble integrating into the new environment and later dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Navy. After Belafonte was honorably discharged, he went back to New York, where he worked odd jobs until two free tickets to the American Negro Theatre (A.N.T.) changed his life.

Belafonte auditioned for the A.N.T. and earned his first leading role in Juno and the Paycock. In 1953, he made his film debut opposite Dorothy Dandridge in Bright Road. He won a Tony in 1954 for his performance in Almanac. At the same time, Belafonte developed his singing talents, having parlayed a series of nightclub performances into a record contract. His third album, Calypso, topped the charts for thirty-one consecutive weeks and was the first record to sell more than 1 million copies. Belafonte also secured a television outlet with his hour-long special, Tonight with Belafonte, which won him an Emmy. He became the first African American TV producer and his company, HarBel, went on to produce one Emmy nominee after another.

In the early 1950s, Belafonte developed a strong relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Belafonte worked tirelessly to mobilize artists in support of the civil rights movement. In 1985, he again rallied the global artistic community to raise awareness of the famines, wars and droughts plaguing many African nations. USA for Africa raised more than $60 million for this cause with "We Are the World" and Hands Across America. A longtime anti-apartheid activist, Belafonte hosted former South African President Nelson Mandela on his triumphant visit to the United States. Belafonte has maintained his commitment to service as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Miscellaneous Subjects, Staff and Stringer Photographs, 1961 - 1974 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn HARRY BELAFONTE PRESS CONFERENCE IN AMERICAN PAVILION AT BRUSSELS FAIR National Archives at College Park
referencedIn James Forman Papers, 1848-2005, (bulk 1961-2001) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Forman, James, 1928-2005. James Forman papers, 1848-2005 (bulk 1961-2001). Library of Congress
referencedIn Dunham, Katherine. Katherine Dunham papers, 1919-1968. Southern Illinois University, Morris Library
referencedIn Hollywood Round Table - Civil Rights United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn Warner Bros. Black films collection, 1939-1984 (bulk 1967-1984). New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf NONMUSIC RECORDING (COLLECTION) Audio materials, 1956-1977 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Audio materials, 1956-1977 [sound recording]. Library of Congress
referencedIn HARRY BELAFONTE National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Wiltwyck School for Boys. Wiltwyck School for Boys records, 1942-1981 [Bulk dates 1964-1982]. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Today No. 89 National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Belafonte, Harry, 1927-.... Swing dat hammer / H Belafonte, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn American Committee on Africa. Archives 1948-1988. Tulane University, Amistad Research Center
referencedIn The Bell Telephone Hour collection of sound recordings [sound recording], 1940-1968 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
creatorOf MARGARET GARDINER PAPERS. Vol. III (ff. 129). 'Vietnam: an American View'; 1967.includes:ff. 2, 34 Harrison Evans Salisbury, Associate Editor, 'The New York Times': Letters to Margaret Gardiner of Harrison Evans Salisbury: 1967: Signed.ff. 3, 40 ..., 1967 British Library
referencedIn Langston Hughes Collection, 1956-1960 University of Virginia. Library. Special Collections Dept.
referencedIn Charles "Chiz" Schultz collection, 1968-1990 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn 1965 - Returning PCVs Conference - Earl Warren, Hubert Humphrey, Harry Belafonte, Sargent Shriver, Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, Jack Vaughn, Bill Moyers National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Selected Photographs of Peace Corps Activities (Chronological File), 1960 - 1990 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn Schultz, Chiz. Charles "Chiz" Schultz collection, 1968-1990. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Harry Belafonte at Guniea Ballet National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Jeffry, Alix, 1929-1993. Photographs, 1952-1974 Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Actors' Equity Association. Paul Robeson award ceremonies collection [sound recording], 1978-1996. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Papers of John F. Kennedy: President's Office Files. 1/20/1961 - 11/22/1963. Departments and Agencies. 1/20/1961 - 11/22/1963. Peace Corps, 1961: January-June
referencedIn Ford, J. mss., 1906-1976 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Paul Robeson award ceremonies collection [sound recording], 1978-1996 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
referencedIn 1965 - Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Conference - Hubert Humphrey, Earl Warren, Bill Moyers, Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, Harry Belafonte National Archives at College Park
referencedIn C. L. Franklin Papers, 1957-1991, 1963-1984 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
creatorOf Nakano, Desmond. White man [Multimédia multisupport] / Desmond Nakano, réal., scénario ; Howard Shore, comp. ; John Travolta, Harry Belafonte, Tom Bower... [et al.], act. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967. Letters to Mrs. Ina Steele [manuscript], 1956-1960. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn 1965 - Miscellaneous - National Advisory Council (NAC) meeting, Harry Belafonte National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Wiltwyck School for Boys Records, 1942-1981, [Bulk Dates: 1964-1981] Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
referencedIn Allen, Florence W. (Florence Wysinger), 1913-1997. Florence Allen papers, 1920-1997. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Records of the Community Services Administration. 1963 - 1981. Moving Images Relating to Anti-Poverty Programs. 1964 - 1979. THE FIRST THIRTY
referencedIn Photographs of Activities and Personalities at the U.S. Pavilion of the Brussels Universal and International Exhibition, Brussels, Belgium, 1957 - 1958 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Branch, Taylor. Taylor Branch papers, 1865-2009 (bulk 1958-2009). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf National Press Club (U.S.). Luncheon speakers collection [sound recording]. Library of Congress
referencedIn San Diego, [California] - 157-4255-v.1 [Classification - Civil Unrest] -- Harry Belafonte -- Walter Kudumu -- Helen Sims National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Nakano, Desmond. White man [Multimédia multisupport] / Desmond Nakano, réal., scénario ; Howard Shore, comp. ; John Travolta, Harry Belafonte, Tom Bower... [et al.], act. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Taylor Branch Papers, (bulk, ), 1865-2013, 1958-2009 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
creatorOf Harry Belafonte Collection The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
creatorOf Belafonte, Harry, 1927-. Letters, 1954-1981. Temple University, Blockson Afro-American History Collection
creatorOf Wilson, Flip. Flip. [Season 4, episode 5 : script]. HCL Technical Services, Harvard College Library
creatorOf Hager, Steven. Beat Street / screenplay by Steven Hager ; revised screenplay by Andy Davis, David Gilbert and Paul Golding. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Nakano, Desmond. White man [Multimédia multisupport] / Desmond Nakano, réal., scénario ; Howard Shore, comp. ; John Travolta, Harry Belafonte, Tom Bower... [et al.], act. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Allen, Florence W. (Florence Wysinger), 1913-1997. Florence Allen papers, 1920-1997. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Guide to the Nelson Frank Papers, 1888-1971 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Films from the Office of Economic Opportunity, ca. 1965 - ca. 1967 Lyndon Baines Johnson Library
referencedIn Guide to the James E. Jackson and Esther Cooper Jackson Photographs Collection, 1910-1995 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn FOLK SINGERS IN AMERICA HARRY BELAFONTE National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Public Domain Photographs. 1882 - 1962. Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Public Domain Photographs
referencedIn The Bell Telephone Hour collection of sound recordings [sound recording], 1940-1968 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
referencedIn John Eldon Thayer collection of motion picture memorabilia, 1916-1979. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn American Vaudeville Museum collection, 1845-2007, (bulk 1910-1940) University of Arizona Libraries, Library Special Collections
referencedIn 1970 - Miscellaneous - Vice President Spiro Agnew with Joseph Blatchford, Dinah Shore and Harry Belafonte National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Alix Jeffry additional papers, 1935-1993. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Harry Belafonte collection, [ca. 1979-ongoing]. Museum of Performance & Design
referencedIn Oliver Tambo, Papers, undated, 1960-1992. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
referencedIn Guide to the Nelson Frank Papers, 1888-1971 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn VOLLLEYBALL PSA: Narr. by Harry Belafonte National Archives at College Park
referencedIn The E.Y. Harburg Collection, 1929-1968 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
referencedIn Florence Allen papers, 1920-1997 Archives of American Art
referencedIn Guide to the Daily Worker and Daily World Photographs Collection, 1920-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Southern Folklife Collection Artist Name File, 1940-2005 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Folklife Collection.
creatorOf Belafonte, Harry, 1927-.... Swing dat hammer [Multimédia multisupport] / H Belafonte, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Photographs of Peace Corps Activities and Personnel (Contact Sheet File), 1961 - 1990 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn DINAH SHORE SHOW National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Photographs of Civil Rights Programs at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, 1949 - 1959 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with Harry Belafonte The HistoryMakers
referencedIn Harry Belafonte at the National Ballet in Guinea - 1964 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn FBI Memorandum National Archives at College Park
referencedIn V05793, October 4, 1994 National Archives at Washington, D.C
Relation Name
associatedWith Actors' Equity Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Actors' Equity Association. Paul Robeson Award corporateBody
associatedWith Allen, Florence W. (Florence Wysinger), 1913-1997. person
associatedWith American Committee on Africa. corporateBody
associatedWith American Museum of Vaudeville corporateBody
associatedWith American Negro Theatre corporateBody
associatedWith Belafonte, Margurite. person
parentOf Belafonte, Shari person
associatedWith Branch, Taylor. person
associatedWith Branch, Taylor. person
associatedWith Cohen, Barry S. person
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Cullen, Frank, 1936- person
associatedWith Davis, Miles, 1926-1991 person
associatedWith Davis, Sammy, Jr., 1925-1990 person
correspondedWith Dunham, Katherine. person
associatedWith E. Y. Harburg person
associatedWith Florence Allen person
associatedWith Ford, John, 1895-1973 person
correspondedWith Forman, James, 1928-2005. person
associatedWith Franklin, C. L. (Clarence LaVaughn), 1915-1984 person
associatedWith Frank, Nelson 1906-1974. person
associatedWith Goetz, Valerie. person
associatedWith Hager, Steven. person
associatedWith Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967. person
associatedWith Jack, Rollins. person
associatedWith Jackson, James E., 1914-2007 person
associatedWith Janklow, Morton L. person
associatedWith Jeffry, Alix. person
associatedWith Katz, Charles J. person
associatedWith Kennedy, Janet Alterman. person
associatedWith Kennedy, Jay Richard. person
associatedWith King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968 person
associatedWith Kolcheim, Nat. person
associatedWith Kramer, Sidney, 1911-1961. person
associatedWith Liberace, 1919-1987 person
participantIn March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963 : Washington, D.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith McNeilly, Donald, 1945- person
associatedWith National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. corporateBody
associatedWith National Press Club (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith New School for Social Research (New York, N.Y. : 1919-1997) corporateBody
associatedWith Parker, Charlie, 1920-1955 person
associatedWith Parker, Dick. person
associatedWith Peace Corps (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Piscator, Erwin, 1893-1966 person
associatedWith Radio corporation of America corporateBody
associatedWith Roach, Max, 1924-2007 person
associatedWith Saratoga Performing Arts Center corporateBody
associatedWith Schultz, Chiz. person
associatedWith Strauss, John. person
associatedWith Tambo, Oliver, 1917- person
associatedWith Thayer, John Eldon, 1899-1980 person
associatedWith Thomas, Millard. person
memberOf United States. Navy corporateBody
associatedWith Weathers, Elmer. person
associatedWith Wilkins, Alvin L. person
associatedWith Wiltwyck School for Boys. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York NY US
United States 00 US
Subject
Motion picture film
Theater
African Americans in the performing arts
Music
Occupation
Civil rights workers
Actors
Singer
Singers
Entertainers
Civil Rights Activist
Activity

Person

Birth 1927-03-01

Americans

English

Information

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Ark ID: w6q0616q

SNAC ID: 85476419