David Belafonte, son of the late civil rights pioneer and entertainment star Harry Belafonte, is paying tribute to his father. In a statement TODAY, the younger Belafonte stated, “We have bid goodbye to our dear dad, father-in-law, and grandpa, the beyond great Harry Belafonte.”
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. “To the rest of the world, he was a legend, but to us, he was Dad, Harry, Farfar, which is Danish for Grandpa, and he meant the world to us.”
We are devastated to have lost someone who had such a significant impact on our lives, and we vow to remember him in all we do, the family added. “His legacy is passed on to his five grandchildren, Rachel Blue, Brian, Maria, Sarafina, and Amadeus, all of whom he was so incredibly proud of,” the statement added. “His four children, Adrienne, Shari, David, and Gina, as well as his five children, Shari, David, and Gina, are the beneficiaries of his legacy.”
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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. Harry Belafonte also leaves behind his “third and current” wife, Pamela.
According to his spokeswoman, Harry Belafonte passed away from heart failure in April at his New York City home with his wife Pamela by his side. He was 96. With his landmark 1956 album “Calypso,” which included the songs “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell,” Belafonte is renowned for popularizing the calypso form of music.
Throughout his career, Belafonte won two Grammy Awards and a Tony Award for “John Murray Anderson’s Almanac” in 1954 for best actor in a featured role in a musical. Belafonte, the first Black producer in television, won an Emmy in 1960 for his one-hour special “Tonight with Belafonte.”
In 2015, when he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy Awards, he attained the coveted EGOT distinction. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s close friend and confidante Belafonte was also a longstanding civil rights fighter who assisted King in planning the 1963 March on Washington.
With his first wife, Marguerite Byrd, to whom he was married from 1948 to 1957, Belafonte also had two daughters, Adrienne Biesemeyer and actor Shari Belafonte, in addition to his son David and daughter Gina.