Harry Belafonte is dead: US singer and actor dies at the age of 96

American singer and actor Harry Belafonte has died at the age of 96. This was initially reported by the New York Times citing Ken Sunshine, his longtime spokesman. Belafonte counted in the 1960s USA among the best-known black artists. His 1956 album “Calypso” was the first record to sell more than a million copies – the record was not surpassed until 1982 by Michael Jackson’s album “Thriller”.

Born in New York, he was also involved in the American civil rights movement and spoke out politically to the end. He fought alongside Martin Luther King Jr. for black civil rights in the USA, with Nelson Mandela against apartheid in South Africa and as a UNICEF ambassador for children in Haiti and Sudan. Belafonte won an honorary Oscar and numerous other awards. For his 90th birthday, his hometown of New York even named an entire library in Harlem after him.

Belafonte was born in the Black Quarter of Harlem in 1927, but spent much of his youth in his mother’s Jamaican homeland. He would have liked to have become the “first black Hamlet”, as he once said in an interview. Instead, it became Hollywood with films like Bright Road (1953) and Otto Preminger’s Carmen Jones (1954). The Music came and Belafonte, son of a ship’s cook from Martinique and a worker from Jamaica, became the “King of Calypso”.

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