Actor-singer remains retired from performing

June 17, 1958

GOOD MORNING: Harry Belafonte OK’d the current layout in Ebony which shows him shortly after his eye operation, wearing dark glasses and an eye patch. “I didn’t know at the time, admits Belafonte whether I’d be that way the rest of my life — so I figured people would either know I’m now OK, or that’s the way I’ve gotta be.” …Belafonte wound up “End of the World” and is off on a five-month tour of Europe. His next pic, “Odds Against Tomorrow” (for UA) will be N.Y.-lensed… 2008 Update: Belafonte, 81, headed the “Odds Against Tomorrow” cast, which included Robert Ryan, Shelley Winters, Ed Begley, introduced Wayne Rogers and was directed by Robert Wise. Variety‘s review noted the film was Belafonte’s “most sustained acting.” He went on to star in films including two comedies with Sidney Poitier, “Buck and The Preacher” (Poitier’s directing debut) and “Uptown Saturday Night.” But, Belafonte became serious when making documentaries such as “Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream,” “White Man’s Burden,” “Scandalize My Name — Stories From The Blacklist,” “Fidel” and “Bobby.” He received awards for TV and B’way appearances and of course for his unmatched musical career with performances including “Matilda,” “The Banana Boat Song,” “Day-Oh” “Mama Look At Bubu,” And he was one of the organizers behind the song, “We Are The World” He toured the world performing to record crowds. He sang at the inaugural gala of President John F. Kennedy in 1961. And, along with Sidney Poitier and Charlton Heston, Belafonte was among the stars in the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., and was also a financial supporter of Martin Luther King. He was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1989 and was a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. He’s received every possible showbiz award. But in 2003 he gave his last concert. And as of this week, he’s still retired from performing. He devotes his life to the betterment and education of the young. (He just returned from South Africa). He founded the Gathering for Justice; Malia Lazu is director. She formerly headed young Democrats’ orgs. in five states. Belafonte, an outspoken critic of George W. Bush, had been an early supporter for the Presidential candidacy of democrat John Edwards and when Edwards departed the race, Belafonte, for the first time, on April 4 announced his support for Barack Obama. And he told me Wednesday that when the Democratic candidate is finally chosen he will be on hand for full support. No, he will not sing — “I left that silently and gracefully” he said while laughingly noting how others have made many returns.

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