Harry Belafonte

Belafonte in 2011, cinemafestival / Shutterstock.com

Birth Name: Harold George Belafonete, Jr.

Place of Birth: Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.

Date of Birth: March 1, 1927

*Sephardi Jewish, African-Jamaican (father)
*African-Jamaican, Irish-Scottish (mother)

Harry Belafonte is an American singer, songwriter, actor, and social activist.

Harry is the son of Melvine Clarasteen (Love) and Harold George Belanfanti/Bellanfanti. His parents were Jamaican. Harry was sent to boarding school in Jamaica, until his return to the U.S. for high school.

Harry is married to photographer Pamela Frank. He has two children, including actress Shari Belafonte, with his former wife, Marguerite Byrd; and two children, including actress Gina Belafonte, with his former wife, dancer Julie Robinson.

Harry’s paternal grandmother was black. Harry’s paternal grandfather was said to be a Dutch Jew who moved to the Caribbean. It is not clear if this is accurate, but there are Dutch Jews with the surname “Belinfante.”

Harry’s maternal grandfather was named William Alexander Love (the son of Angus Love and Rachel Cross). William was black.

Harry’s maternal grandmother was Sarah Jane Clarke (the daughter of Henry Clarke and Alice “Elsie” Allen). Sarah was born in Saint Ann, Jamaica, and had Irish and Scottish ancestry. Henry was the son of Robert Clarke and Elsie Hunter. Alice was the daughter of William Stephen Allen, and a of a woman surnamed Anderson.

In Harry’s autobiography, My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance (2012), on pages 12 and 16, he wrote:

My mother, Melvine Love, was a true Jamaican beauty of twenty-one, with dark eyes, high cheekbones, and a trim figure she held so straight that no one ever failed to note her sense of pride and purpose. She was one of thirteen children born to a farming family up in the mountains of St. Ann Parish, on the island’s north coast, her café au lait skin the telltale sign of her interracial roots. Her father was a black sharecropper, her mother the white daughter of a Scottish father who’d come to Jamaica to oversee a plantation for an absentee owner…

Harold was Jamaican and, like Millie, the child of a mixed-race union. His mother was a black Jamaican, his father a white Dutch Jew who’d drifted over to the islands after chasing gold and diamonds, with no luck at all, in the newly formed colonies of West Africa.

Sources: https://books.google.ca

Genealogy of Harry Belafonte (focusing on his mother’s side) – http://www.geni.com

Information on Harry’s mother’s family – http://www.genealogy.com


Curious about ethnicity

23 Responses

  1. andrew says:

    “Both of Harry’s parents were from the West Indies, and both of them had one white parent. Belafonte Sr., from Martinique (F.W.I.), gave up his French citizenship during World War I to become a British subject. Melvine Love Belafonte was from Jamaica (B. W. I.). Harry’s maternal grandmother and his paternal grandfather were both white”

    Genia Fogelson – “Harry Belafonte”


    “Melvine was “a true Jamaican beauty”, thanks to her sharecropper father’s island roots. Her mother, Belafonte’s grandmother, was the white daughter of a Scottish father who had come to Jamaica to oversee a plantation for an absentee owner. Belafonte’s father, Harold (whose surname is actually ‘Bellanfanti’) was also mixed-race – black Jamaican mother, white Dutch Jew father”


  2. saundra daryab says:

    Harry Belafonte”s grandmother was half white and half black and his grandfather was white.

  3. ethnic says:

    Mixed one thanks for the comment. an interesting fact.


  4. Mixed one says:

    Belafonte’s parents were emigrants from the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Jamaica, and he lived with his mother during her 1935–40 return to Jamaica

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