His triumphant success as an entertainer in the arts did not protect him from racial discrimination, particularly in the South. As a result, he refused to perform in the southern region of the U.S. from 1954 until 1961.
In 1968, Belafonte appeared on a Petula Clark TV special on NBC. In the middle of a song, Clark smiled and briefly touched Belafonte's arm. The show's sponsor, Plymouth Motors, wanted to cut out the segment, but Clark, who had ownership of the special, told NBC that the performance would be shown intact or not at all. American newspapers published articles reporting the controversy and, when the special aired, it grabbed huge ratings.
In 1985, he was one of the organizers behind the Grammy Award winning song "We Are the World," a multi-artist effort to raise funds for Africa, and performed in the Live Aid concert that same year.
Is a long time friend of fellow actor and activist Sidney Poitier. They were born 9 days apart. They met in New York at age 20 before either was in show business.
Performed "Turn the World Around" at Jim Henson's memorial service.
Recorded the first million-selling LP album with "Calypso" (RCA: 1956), which started a craze for this traditional Jamaican folk music in the United States.
Served in the United States Navy.
Son David is executive director of the family-held company Belafonte Enterprises Inc.
Underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 1996.
Was the first African-American man to win an Emmy, with his first solo TV special "Tonight with Belafonte" in 1959.
Won Broadway's 1954 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Musical) for "John Murray Anderson's Almanac," becoming the first Black performer to win a Tony Award.