Harry Belafonte was born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr. on March 1, 1927, in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants.

He spent the first few years of his life in Jamaica, where he was exposed to the rich musical traditions of the Caribbean.

Belafonte's mother was a housekeeper and his father worked as a cook in the New York City sanitation department.

 Belafonte's breakthrough album, "Calypso," released in 1956, was the first album in history to sell over one million copies.

As a young man, Belafonte served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

In addition to his music career, Belafonte was also a prominent activist in the civil rights movement and a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Belafonte was also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has been recognized for his humanitarian work, including his efforts to fight hunger and poverty.

Belafonte won a Tony Award in 1954 for his role in the Broadway production of "John Murray Anderson's Almanac."

 In 2011, Belafonte was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy Awards.