"To the world, he was a legend, but to us, he was Dad, Harry, Farfar," his son David Belafonte said in a statement.
David Belafonte, son of the late civil rights pioneer and entertainment star Harry Belafonte, is paying tribute to his father, per TODAY. At his New York City home on April 25, Harry Belafonte passed away from heart failure with his wife Pamela by his side, his representative said, per TODAY. He was 96.
"It is with a heavy heart that we have said goodbye to our beloved dad, father-in-law, and grandpa, the beyond amazing Harry Belafonte," the younger Belafonte said in a statement. The bereaved son continued by saying that he, his wife, Malena, and their two children, Amadeus and Sarafina, were devastated by the demise of the legendary performer and actor.
Breaking News: Harry Belafonte, the barrier-breaking singer, actor and activist who became a major force in the civil rights movement, has died at 96. https://t.co/LTpfanpUDq pic.twitter.com/7aUl89rLzA— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 25, 2023
"To the world, he was a legend, but to us, he was Dad, Harry, Farfar — which means Grandpa in Danish — and he will always mean the world to us. We are heartbroken to have lost such a big presence in our lives and we will honor him in everything we do," the family said. "His legacy is passed on to his four children, Adrienne, Shari, David, and Gina, as well as his five grandchildren, Rachel Blue, Brian, Maria, Sarafina, and Amadeus, all of whom he was so incredibly proud of," the statement continued.
Harry Belafonte leaves behind his "third and current" wife, Pamela. The singer's ex-wife Julie, whom they jokingly referred to as his "sparring partner for 50+ years and the mother of his youngest children David and Gina," is also survived by Harry Belafonte, according to the singer's family. Belafonte had two daughters, Adrienne Biesemeyer and actor Shari Belafonte, with his first wife, Marguerite Byrd, before having son David and daughter Gina.
Today we honor and remember the life of our friend, Harry Belafonte. Take a moment with us to reflect and honor his legacy and enjoy this Sesame Street classic. pic.twitter.com/MwLJDc4kt5— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) April 25, 2023
Belafonte won two Grammy Awards and a Tony Award for best actor in a featured role in a Musical for his performance in John Murray Anderson's Almanack in 1954. Belafonte is most known for popularising the calypso style of music with his seminal 1956 album Calypso, which included the songs Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) and Jamaica Farewell.
Belafonte was also a longstanding civil rights leader and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s close friend and confidante, assisting King in organizing the 1963 March on Washington. Belafonte was the first Black television producer and received an Emmy Award in 1960 for his program Tonight with Belafonte. He achieved the coveted EGOT in 2015 when he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy Awards.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Kevin Winter