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"Sing Your Song": Harry Belafonte's Moving Hagiography 

Wednesday, Jan 25 2012
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Produced by his youngest daughter, Gina, this profile of Harry Belafonte, foregrounding the 84-year-old actor and singer's political activism, is a moving if occasionally wearying hagiography. Not that the subject is unworthy of anything but veneration: Unbowed by the racism that dogged him during the first several decades of his career, Belafonte served as a tireless confidante to and fund-raiser for Martin Luther King Jr., and he enlisted Sidney Poitier at the last minute to travel with him to Mississippi in 1964 to deliver funds to civil rights workers. His humanitarian work in Africa is only one facet of his continued commitment to global justice. Belafonte, in various sit-downs, commandingly narrates his own life — professional, political, and personal — his rhetorical flourishes sometimes bordering on the verbose. ("With her, I could possibly live out the rest of my journey in a joyous world," he says of third wife Pamela Frank, whom he married in 2008.) Sing Your Song's greatest asset is its archival riches, such as a clip from 1968's Petula Clark Spectacular, in which the British pop star clasps Belafonte's forearm during a duet — a moment of interracial touching that caused NBC to go bananas — and footage of Sammy Davis Jr., Shelley Winters, and Nina Simone sharing the same stage at a concert Belafonte organized before the last leg of 1965's Selma-to-Montgomery march.

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Melissa Anderson

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