Harry Belafonte Was Friends With Everyone From Muhammad Ali to Marlon Brando

Harry Belafonte, the singer, actor, and civil rights activist, passed away in New York on April 25 at the age of 96. Belafonte rose to fame in the 1950s as a singer and actor and ended up playing a major role in the civil rights movement. A friend of Martin Luther King Jr., he used his money to help fund the movement and used his connections to bring more celebrities and arts to the cause, including Tony Bennett, Marlon Brando, Joan Baez, and many more.

Through his phenomenal life, Belafonte made many celebrity friends, and in photos of him, he was almost always grinning widely or even laughing. As he grew older and became an elder statesman of Hollywood, he continued to befriend those of the younger generation, including Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, and Spike Lee. Lee remembered Belafonte on Instagram, sharing a photo together and writing, "May God Have My Dear Friend HARRY BELAFONTE At A Peaceful Rest. We Are Losing Our Giants Left And Right. We Have To Celebrate Our Elders While They Are With Us."

We rounded up 26 photos from Belafonte's incredible life, showing his friendships and connections with everyone from Sidney Poitier and Julie Andrews to Cecily Tyson and James Baldwin. See photos of Belafonte with his celebrity friends ahead.

Harry Belafonte, Martin Luther King Jr., and Sammy Davis Jr.
Getty | Bettmann

Harry Belafonte, Martin Luther King Jr., and Sammy Davis Jr.

Belafonte and King were good friends, and King was a frequent guest at Belafonte's apartment in New York. Here, they were pictured with Sammy Davis Jr. at a Times Square benefit show called "Broadway Answers Selma" in 1965.

Harry Belafonte and Muhammad Ali
Getty | Ron Galella

Harry Belafonte and Muhammad Ali

Belafonte and Ali embraced in this photo from the 1971 Beaux Arts Ball in New York.

Harry Belafonte, Cicely Tyson, James Baldwin, and Arthur Mitchell
Getty | Ron Galella

Harry Belafonte, Cicely Tyson, James Baldwin, and Arthur Mitchell

This photo from the 1969 To Be Young, Gifted, and Black Gala shows Tyson, Baldwin, Mitchell, and Belafonte embracing backstage.

Harry Belafonte and Diahann Carroll
Getty | Bettmann

Harry Belafonte and Diahann Carroll

Diahann Carroll had her first musical special in 1971, and Belafonte appeared on the show with her.

Getty | Hulton Archive

In this photo from 1965, Belafonte posed with Carroll and his then-wife, Julie Belafonte.

Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier
Getty | Hulton Archive

Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier

Belafonte and Poitier posed together at the 1965 premiere of "The Greatest Story Ever Told," starring the latter. The duo were good friends, and both were very much involved in the civil rights movement.

Getty | Alberto E. Rodriguez

Belafonte and Poitier both attended the 2012 NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles and posed for a photo together backstage.

Harry Belafonte at Sammy Davis Jr.'s Wedding
Getty | Bettmann

Harry Belafonte at Sammy Davis Jr.'s Wedding

Belafonte attended Davis's 1958 wedding to singer Lory White. Also pictured were comedian Joe E. Lewis and actor Donald O'Connor. Davis was holding his 4-year-old sister Suzette in his arms.

Harry Belafonte and Tony Bennett
Getty | L. Busacca

Harry Belafonte and Tony Bennett

Belafonte, Bennett, and Bennett's wife, Susan Benedetto, laughed together at Belafonte's 2007 birthday party. Back in 1965, Belafonte recruited Bennett to march in the Selma march. Belafonte told CNN in 2013 that King asked him to recruit artists to the civil rights movement and that Bennett was one of his first calls.

"I said I'm not, I'm walking away from all this," Bennett remembered to the outlet at the time. "This is just insane, it's so ignorant and but then he told me what went down, what was going down how some blacks were burned, had gasoline thrown on them and they were burned. When I heard that I said 'I'll go with you.' You know I just realized that this is insanity."

Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, Mary Travers, Leon Bibb, and Peter Yarrow
Getty | Charles Shaw

Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, Mary Travers, Leon Bibb, and Peter Yarrow

In this picture from the Selma march in 1965, Belafonte, Baez, Travers, Bibb, and Yarrow performed together at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery.

Harry Belafonte, Burt Lancaster, and Charlton Heston
Getty | Bettmann

Harry Belafonte, Burt Lancaster, and Charlton Heston

Belafonte was snapped with actors Lancaster and Heston at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington in 1963.

Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin, Marlon Brando, and Charlton Heston
Getty | PhotoQuest

Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin, Marlon Brando, and Charlton Heston

In another picture from the March, Belafonte was photographed with Baldwin, Brandon, and Heston.

Harry Belafonte and The Supremes
Getty | Bettmann

Harry Belafonte and The Supremes

In 1965, The Supremes — Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson — headed to Los Angeles for TV appearances but squeezed in time to meet Belafonte backstage.

Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne
Getty | Ron Galella

Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne

Belafonte and Horne were photographed at an event to support Andrew Young's congressional campaign in 1970. Young was an early leader in the civil rights movement and served as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference before becoming a member of Congress in 1973.

Harry Belafonte and Nat King Cole
Getty | NBC

Harry Belafonte and Nat King Cole

Belafonte appeared with legendary singer Nat King Cole on an episode of "The Nat King Cole Show" in 1956.

Harry Belafonte and Robert Kennedy
Getty | Afro Newspaper/Gado

Harry Belafonte and Robert Kennedy

Belafonte and his then-wife, Julie, met Attorney General Robert Kennedy in this photo from 1962.

Harry Belafonte and Rita Moreno
Getty | Archive Photos

Harry Belafonte and Rita Moreno

Belafonte smiled in this snapshot with Moreno, taken at a 1966 afterparty for the film "The Sand Pebbles." Next to Moreno was her late husband, Leonard Gordon, and next to Belafonte was Julie.

Harry Belafonte and Joan Fontaine
Everett Collection

Harry Belafonte and Joan Fontaine

Belafonte starred in 1957's "Island in the Sun" with Joan Fontaine. The film received racist backlash because of a suggestion of a romance between their two characters, and the South Caroline legislature even tried to fine any theater that showed it, per The New York Times.

Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge
Everett Collection

Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge

Belafonte and Dandridge starred together in 1953's "Bright Road."

Harry Belafonte and Julie Andrews
Getty | NBC

Harry Belafonte and Julie Andrews

Belafonte and Andrews had a 1969 TV special together, "An Evening With Julie Andrews and Harry Belafonte." In the NBC event, they performed musical numbers together with short comedy sketches.

Harry Belafonte, Paul Newman, and Joanne Woodward
Getty | Ron Galella

Harry Belafonte, Paul Newman, and Joanne Woodward

Belafonte was photographed with Newman and Woodward in this picture from 1968.

Harry Belafonte, Whoopi Goldberg, and Chris Tucker
Getty | KMazur

Harry Belafonte, Whoopi Goldberg, and Chris Tucker

Belafonte's famous friends included Goldberg. Here, they were pictured backstage at the Kennedy Center in 2001, when she was awarded the Mark Twin Prize for Humor. Chris Tucker was also pictured.

Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover
Getty | Michael Buckner

Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover

Belafonte and Glover embraced in this photo from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Harry Belafonte and Spike Lee
Getty | Ron Galella, Ltd.

Harry Belafonte and Spike Lee

Belafonte had a strong relationship with filmmaker Spike Lee. In this photo from 1989, they both attended a rally for David Dinkins as he campaigned for mayor in New York City (an election Dinkins then won). Belafonte also appeared in Lee's 2018 film, "BlacKkKlansman."

Harry Belafonte, Spike Lee, and Usher
Getty | Kevin Mazur

Harry Belafonte, Spike Lee, and Usher

In 2013, Belafonte was photographed with Lee and Usher at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Lee and Belafonte inducted Public Enemy into the hall that year. Belafonte was finally inducted himself in 2022 in the Hall's "early influence" category.