Harry Belafonte, “The Calypso King”, has died at the age of 96.
Belafonte passed at home of congestive heart disease, according to his representatives. He is survived by four children, two step-children, eight grandchildren, and his third wife, Pamela Belafonte.
“I’ve often responded to queries that ask, ‘When as an artist did you decide to become an activist?’” Belafonte has said. “My response to the question is that I was an activist long before I became an artist. They both service each other, but the activism is first.”
A close friend and confidante to Martin Luther King Jr., Belafonte grew up in poverty as the son of a Jamaican housemaid. He gained an acting education under the tutelage of Erwin Piscator and would watch some of the earliest Broadway shows for reference, but only ever one-act at a time; he would trade off his ticket at intermission with another longstanding Hollywood icon, Sidney Poitier.
Belafonte reported died with his wife, Pamela, by his side. Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones.