Harry Belafonte, singer, actor, activist, dies at 96

Belafonte's spokesperson said he suffered congestive heart failure.
Harry Belafonte
Posted at 10:16 AM, Apr 25, 2023

American icon Harry Belafonte has died. 

The New York Times first reported Belafonte's death Tuesday. His longtime spokesperson said Belafonte died from congestive heart failure.

Belafonte was born on March 1, 1927, in New York City to Jamaican parents. He reportedly spent most of his childhood in Jamaica before returning to the U.S. around age 12. 

Belafonte would go on to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II. 

After returning from war, Belafonte enrolled in drama school and began performing, which led to his storied music career. He released his breakthrough album "Calypso" in 1956, earning him the nickname "Calypso King." It was the first album by a solo artist to sell more than 1 million copies. 

Belafonte wasn't just a music star. His charisma led to a successful acting career as well. He may be most known for his work on "Carmen Jones."

The entertainer was also known for his activism. He was involved in numerous causes fighting for racial equality, ending poverty and hunger. 

In a statement, President Joe Biden said he was saddened to hear about Belafonte's passing. 

"Harry Belafonte’s accomplishments are legendary and his legacy of outspoken advocacy, compassion, and respect for human dignity will endure," Biden said in a statement. "He will be remembered as a great American."

Balafonte was 96 years old.

Harry Belafonte holds hands with his daughter, Gina Belafonte

Gina Belafonte: We need to reclaim narratives of marginalized peoples

Gina and her father, Harry Belafonte, founded a social justice nonprofit called Sankofa to reignite the activist tradition.