Harry Belafonte was born on March 1, 1927 in Harlem, New York. He started his career as a club singer, but shot to fame with the release of his album Calypso in 1956. The album contained the songs “Jump in the Line” and “Day-O,” both of which became smash hits. Belafonte also recorded blues, gospel, folk and show tunes. He starred in a television special Tonight With Belafonte in 1959 and became the first African American to win an Emmy. He continued to star in television specials in the 1960s. He spent most of the 1970s touring, but released a new album in the 1980s to protest Apartheid.
His first film role was in 1953’s Bright Road. He later starred in the musical Carmen Jones in 1954. In 1957, he had a role in Island in the Sun. In the 1970s, he had roles in Buck and the Preacher and Uptown Saturday Night. He appeared in the film White Man’s Burden in 1995 and in Kansas City in 1996, for which he earned a Best Supporting Actor award from the New York Film Critics Circle Award. He had a role in Swing Vote (1999) and starred in Bobby in 2006.