Happy Birthday to Harold George “Harry” Belafonte, Jr. who celebrates his 86th birthday today. Belafonte is singer, songwriter, actor and social activist.
In the 1940s, he was working as a janitor’s assistant in NYC when a tenant gave him, as a gratuity, two tickets to see the American Negro Theater. He fell in love with the art form and also met Sidney Poitier. The financially struggling pair regularly purchased a single seat to local plays, trading places in between acts, after informing the other about the progression of the play. At the end of the 1940s, he took classes in acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the influential German director Erwin Piscator alongside Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Walter Matthau, Bea Arthur and Sidney Poitier, while performing with the American Negro Theatre.
The handsome actor began his film careeer in the 1950s and after sitting out the entire decae of the 1960s, he returned to star in a string of memorable films with his close friend, Sidney Poitier. Passionate about social causes, he continues to work for the betterment of humankind.
He was dubbed the “King of Calypso” for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s. Belafonte is perhaps best known for singing “The Banana Boat Song”, with its signature lyric “Day-O”. Throughout his career he has been an advocate for civil rights and humanitarian causes.
Check out some of Belafonte’s most memorable roles and friendships, below: