Civil rights

Harry Belafonte's Son Shares Heartfelt Tribute After His Death: ‘To the World He Was a Legend, but to Us He Was Dad'

The legendary entertainer and civil rights activist's son, David Belafonte, honored his late father in an emotional statement.

Harry Belafonte's son, David Belafonte, is paying tribute to the late entertainment legend and civil rights activist.

"It is with a heavy heart that we have said goodbye to our beloved dad, father-in-law, and grandpa, the beyond amazing Harry Belafonte," the younger Belafonte said in a statement to TODAY.

The grieving son went on to say that he and his wife, Malena, and their two children, Amadeus and Sarafina, were heartbroken over the groundbreaking singer and actor's passing.

"To the world he was a legend, but to us he was Dad, Harry, Farfar — which means Grandpa in Danish — and he will always mean the world to us. We are heartbroken to have lost such a big presence in our lives and we will honor him in everything we do," the family said.

"His legacy is passed on to his four children, Adrienne, Shari, David, and Gina, as well as his five grandchildren, Rachel Blue, Brian, Maria, Sarafina, and Amadeus, all of whom he was so incredibly proud of," the statement continued.

The family noted that Harry Belafonte also leaves behind his "third and current" wife, Pamela, as well as his ex-wife Julie, whom they jokingly called the singer's "sparring partner for 50+ years and the mother of his youngest children David and Gina."

The family concluded by writing, "We will miss him terribly!"

Harry Belafonte died of heart failure on April at his home in New York City, with his wife, Pamela, by his side, his spokesperson confirmed to NBC News. He was 96.

Belafonte was famous for popularizing the calypso style of music with his groundbreaking 1956 album, “Calypso,” which featured the hits “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell."

Throughout his career, Belafonte earned two Grammy Awards and a Tony Award for best actor in a featured role in a musical for “John Murray Anderson’s Almanac” in 1954. The first Black producer in television, Belafonte also earned an Emmy Award in 1960 for his special “Tonight with Belafonte.”

He obtained much-coveted EGOT status in 2015, when he was honored with a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy Awards.

Belafonte was also a longtime civil rights activist and a close friend and confidante of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., helping King organize the 1963 March on Washington.

In addition to son David and daughter Gina, Belafonte shared two daughters, Adrienne Biesemeyer and actor Shari Belafonte, with his first wife, Marguerite Byrd, whom he was married to from 1948 until 1957.

This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY:

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