We are saddened to learn that the legendary singer, actor, activist, and humanitarian Harry Belafonte has passed away.
Among his many, many achievements, Belafonte was a civil rights pioneer, fighting against segregation in the 1950s and continuing to work against racism through the rest of his life. He was well known for writing and singing songs like “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaican Farewell”, and later segued into appearing in films.
Harry Belafonte shared a long history with the Muppets, most notably for his appearance on a memorable episode of The Muppet Show. This episode is well-regarded among fans as one of the best of the series, almost guaranteed to make anyone’s Top 5. Below, you’ll find a few clips from that episode, including a rendition of “Day-O” and the epic finale of “Turn the World Around”.
These two clips beautifully capture what made both Belafonte and the Muppets great, ranging from fun and silly to deeply introspective and with a desire to unite the world.
In 1982, Belafonte made a few appearances on Sesame Street, including the delightful “Coconut Counting Man” and “Moyet”.
After Jim Henson’s passing, Belafonte was chosen to reprise his rendition of “Turn the World Around”, made famous on The Muppet Show, and to perform the song at Jim’s funeral. It takes on a very different meaning today, of course.
In the years after the loss of Jim Henson, Belafonte continued to appear in various documentaries and specials about Jim’s life to discuss this connection between these two remarkable men – a desire for world peace, education, and brotherhood.
Harry Belafonte was a remarkable human being, and we are so very grateful that he chose Jim Henson and the Muppets to be a part of his extraordinary career.
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by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com