Burnt Marshmallows Taste Good

Harry Belafonte was born on March 1, 1927 in New York City to Caribbean immigrants. His father was a cook in the British Royal Navy and his mom was a dressmaker and a house cleaner. His parents divorced at a young age and he was sent to Jamaica to live with his mother’s relatives. He returned to Harlem in 1939 to live with his mom. His family struggled with poverty and he was often left in the care of others. Belafonte dropped out of high school and joined the navy in 1944. He served in WWII in the south pacific. After returning from the war, Belafonte worked several odd jobs before attending a performance at the American Negro Theater which inspired him to become an actor. He studied drama at the Dramatic Workshop and some of his classmates included Marlon Brand, Rod Steiger, and Walter Matthau. He later appeared in different productions at the American Negro Theater. He then got an offer to perform at a jazz club called Royal Roost. He performed with musicians like Miles Davis and became very popular at the club. He received his first recording contract in 1949 due to his popularity at the night club. In 1953, he made his debut on Broadway in John Murray Anderson’s Almanac for which he won a Tony. He also appeared in his first movie with Dorothy Dandridge, Bright Road. He appeared in different Broadway musicals like 3 for Tonight in 1955. He later did another movie, Carmen Jones, with Dorothy Dandridge which got him nominated for an Oscar along with Dandridge. In the late 1950s he signed with RCA records and released his album Calypso which featured different types of Caribbean folk music. His album became the first album to sell more than 1 million copies. He worked with other musicians like Bob Dylan, Odetta, and Lena Horne. In the 1970s, Belafonte appeared in several different movies with actors like Sidney Poitier. Besides acting and singing, he also was an activist. He provided financial backing for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Council. He became friends with Martin Luther King Jr. and was with King when he gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. He participated in different nonviolent protests. He also came up with the idea for the record “We Are the World” which helped people in Africa. He campaigned to end the apartheid in South Africa and is a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.

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