Harry Belafonte - Rotten Tomatoes

Harry Belafonte

Highest Rated:   100% Under African Skies (2012)
Lowest Rated:   24% White Man's Burden (1995)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Not Available
Despite a dazzling film and recording career that spanned the better part of the Twentieth century, and has extended (with occasional film activity) well into the Twenty-first, venerable African American entertainer Harry Belafonte is still best known as "The King of the Calypso." This title -- and Belafonte's concomitant crossover appeal to black and white audiences -- is even more astonishing for first happening over ten years before the Civil Rights movement took full swing. Born March 1, 1927 in poverty-stricken Harlem to first-generation Jamaican immigrants, Belafonte emigrated with his mother back to Jamaica at eight years old, and returned to New York at age thirteen. Midway through high school, he dropped out and enlisted in the Navy. Upon discharge, the young man studied and performed at the Actors Studio (alongside such legends as Tony Curtis and Marlon Brando), Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop at the New School for Social Research, and The American Negro Theater. A singing role in a theatrical piece led to a string of cabaret engagements, and before long, Belafonte's success enabled him to secure funding to open his own nightclub. His recording career officially began at the age of 22, in 1949, when he presented himself as a pop singer along the lines of Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra, but in time he found a more unique niche by delving headfirst into the Library of Congress's archive of folk song recordings and studying West Indian music. What emerged was a highly unique (and unprecedented) blend of pop, jazz and traditional Caribbean rhythms. Belafonte subsequently opened at the Village Vanguard with accompaniment by Millard Thomas, then debuted cinematically with Bright Road (1953) and followed it up with Otto Preminger's Carmen Jones, co-starring, in each, with the ravishing (and ill-fated) Dorothy Dandridge. In 1954, Belafonte won a Tony Award for his work in the Broadway revue John Murray Anderson's Almanac. His broadest success to date, however, lay two years down the road.In 1956, Belafonte issued two RCA albums: Belafonte, and Calypso. To call the LP popular would be the understatement of the century; each effort crested the pop charts and remained there, the latter album for well over seven months. As a result, calypso music, typified by the twin hits "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" and "Jamaica Farewell," became a national phenomenon. Using his star clout, Belafonte was then able to realize several controversial film roles that studios would have rejected for a man of color in the late 1950s. In 1957's Island in the Sun, Belafonte's character entertains notions of an affair with white Joan Fontaine (thereby incurring the wrath of bigots everywhere). In Robert Wise's Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), he plays a bank robber, uncomfortably teamed with a racist partner (Robert Ryan). And in The World, The Flesh and The Devil, also made in 1959, he portrays one of the last three survivors of a world-wide nuclear disaster. Following his SRO Carnegie Hall show in 1959, Belafonte won an Emmy for his 1960 TV special, Tonight With Harry Belafonte (becoming, in the process, the first African American producer in television history). His cinematic activity nonetheless sharply declined during this period as he felt more and more dissatisfied by available film roles, but his recording output and civil rights work crescendoed over the course of the 1960s. In 1970, Belafonte returned to film work for the first occasion in almost ten years, by executive producing and starring alongside Zero Mostel in Czech director Jan Kadar's American debut, the fantasy The Angel Levine (1970). Adapted from a short story by Bernard Malamud, this gentle, sensitively-handled fable won the hearts of critics and devoted filmgoers nationwide, but subsequently fell through the cracks of the video revolution and went largely unseen for three decades. By 1971, Belafonte would act before the cameras only in the company of such close friends as Sidney

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Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
No Score Yet Life's Essentials with Ruby Dee
  • Actor
2015
No Score Yet The Last White Knight
  • Actor
2014
No Score Yet Nat King Cole: Afraid Of The Dark
  • Actor
2014
No Score Yet Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' to Tell You
  • Actor
2013
100% Under African Skies
  • Actor
2012
95% Sing Your Song
  • Harry Belafonte
$48.2k 2012
91% The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975
  • Actor
$0.2M 2011
No Score Yet Zero Percent
  • Actor
2011
No Score Yet Mama Africa
  • Actor
2011
No Score Yet Motherland (Enat Hager)
  • Actor
2010
79% William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe
  • Actor
2009
81% Soundtrack For A Revolution
  • Actor
2009
No Score Yet King
  • Actor
2008
46% Bobby
  • Nelson
$11.1M 2006
97% When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts
  • Actor
2006
No Score Yet Mo & Me
  • Actor
2006
No Score Yet Audrey Hepburn: The Fairest Lady
  • Actor
2006
No Score Yet History Makers
  • Actor
2005
No Score Yet Calypso Dreams
  • Actor
2004
No Score Yet Harry Belafonte: An Evening With Harry Belafonte & Friends
  • Actor
2003
No Score Yet The Peace! DVD
  • Actor
2003
No Score Yet Quincy Jones: In the Pocket
  • Actor
2002
No Score Yet The Incomparable Nat King Cole
  • Actor
2002
No Score Yet Smothered: The Great Smothers Brothers Censorship Wars
  • Actor
2002
No Score Yet Petula Clark: This Is My Song
  • Actor
2001
No Score Yet Fidel
  • Himself
2001
No Score Yet The World, the Flesh and the Devil
  • Ralph Burton
2000
No Score Yet Scandalize My Name: Stories from the Blacklist
  • Actor
1999
63% Kansas City
  • Seldom Seen
1996
No Score Yet Robert Altman's Jazz '34: Remembrances of Kansas City Swing
  • Narrator
1996
24% White Man's Burden
  • Thaddeus Thomas
1995
No Score Yet The Affair
  • Executive Producer
1995
No Score Yet Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child
  • Magic Man
1995
26% Ready to Wear (Prêt-à-Porter)
  • Himself
1994
No Score Yet The World of Jim Henson
  • Actor
1994
No Score Yet The Best of Danny Kaye - The Television Years
  • Actor
1993
98% The Player
  • Himself
1992
No Score Yet Remembering Nat King Cole
  • Actor
1991
No Score Yet Nat "King" Cole: Unforgettable
  • Actor
1989
No Score Yet Frontline Music Festival
  • Actor
1989
No Score Yet We Shall Overcome
  • Actor
1989
50% Beat Street
  • Producer
1984
No Score Yet Four for Thrills - Edgar Allen Poe and Others
  • Actor
1982
No Score Yet Grambling's White Tiger
  • Actor
1981
71% Uptown Saturday Night
  • Geechie Dan Beauford
1974
No Score Yet Buck and the Preacher
  • Preacher
  • Producer
1972
No Score Yet The Angel Levine
  • Alexander Levine
1970
No Score Yet King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis
  • Actor
1970
No Score Yet Petula Clark Spectacular
  • Actor
1968
No Score Yet Odds Against Tomorrow
  • Executive Producer
  • Johnny Ingram
1959
No Score Yet Island in the Sun
  • David Boyeur
1957
74% Carmen Jones
  • Joe
1954
No Score Yet Bright Road
  • Actor
1953

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Tavis Smiley
2013
  • Guest
  • 2017
No Score Yet Great Performances
2000
  • Appearing
  • Narrator
  • 2013
No Score Yet Independent Lens
1999
  • Appearing
  • 2012
No Score Yet Colbert Report
2005-2014
  • Guest
  • 2011
No Score Yet POV
1988
  • Appearing
  • 2010
No Score Yet Real Time With Bill Maher
2003
  • Panelist
  • 2006
No Score Yet American Masters
2001
  • Voice
  • 2001

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