Marguerite Belafonte: Life And Legacy of Harry Belafonte’s First Wife

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By David

Real Name:Frances Marguerite Byrd
Birthday:October 12, 1923
Net Worth$100,000 - $250,000
Height:167 cm
Occupation:American Actress, Model, Civil Rights Activist, Former Wife of Harry Belafonte

Marguerite Belafonte was an accomplished American actress born on October 12, 1923, in Washington, District of Columbia, USA. Known for her captivating performances, she gained recognition for her role in the film Night of the Quarter Moon (1959). Apart from her acting career, Marguerite was also known for her marriage to Jamaican-American pop star Harry Belafonte.

Beyond the screen, Marguerite shone brightly as a humanitarian. She actively participated in various causes and contributed to uplifting underprivileged communities. Her life as both an actress and a humanitarian has left a lasting impact on the entertainment industry and the world at large.

However, Marguerite’s life came to an end on February 15, 1998, in Washington D.C. Though her passing left a void in the hearts of many, her legacy as an influential actress and humanitarian lives on.

Early Life

Frances Marguerite Byrd, better known as Marguerite Belafonte, grew up in Virginia, where she spent most of her early life. She comes from a Scottish-Jamaican ethnic background and grew up alongside her siblings Charles R. Byrd and Beatrice B. Gilkes.

Marguerite completed her high school education in Washington, D.C. After graduation, she attended the prestigious Hampton Institute where she furthered her education. Little is known regarding Marguerite’s parents; however, her father’s name is said to be Robert Byrd.

In her early years, Marguerite showed a talent for acting, which would later translate into a brief career in Hollywood. It was through her acting that she met the famed singer and actor, Harry Belafonte, whom she would eventually marry in 1948.

Career and Success

Modeling Career

In the early days of her career, Marguerite Belafonte worked as a model. Despite limited information available on her modeling assignments, she appeared to have made a mark in the industry at that time. Her beauty and poise during her modeling days likely played a significant role in her eventual transition to acting.

Acting Career

Marguerite Belafonte’s most notable work as an actress was her role in the 1959 film Night of the Quarter Moon. The film showcased her talent on the big screen, and although her acting career was relatively short-lived, she still made a lasting impression in the entertainment industry. Her performance in the movie remains a highlight of her career.


Marguerite Belafonte was not only known for her career in modeling and acting but also for her philanthropic endeavors. While specific details about her charitable activities remain scarce, she likely supported causes and organizations that were significant to her values and beliefs.

Throughout her life, Marguerite exhibited a strong commitment to education as well. She attended New York University, which demonstrates her prioritization of personal and intellectual growth. This dedication to learning would have translated into her philanthropic efforts as well, as she likely sought to support and empower others in their educational pursuits.

Personal Life


Marguerite Belafonte was born on October 12, 1923, in Washington, District of Columbia, USA. She was an actress known for her role in Night of the Quarter Moon (1959). Marguerite was married to prominent Jamaican-American singer and actor, Harry Belafonte, in 1948. The couple fell in love and got married, but eventually, they went their separate ways. Harry later married Julie Robinson and then photographer Pamela Frank.


Marguerite and Harry Belafonte are the parents of two daughters, Adrienne and Shari Belafonte. Both of their daughters followed in their father’s footsteps as actors and singers. Adrienne is also known by her married name, Adrienne Belafonte Biesemeyer. Shari Belafonte is known for her roles in various films and TV series, as well as her work as a model and singer. Harry later had two more children, Gina and David, with his second wife, Julie Robinson.

Final Days and Legacy

Marguerite Belafonte, the first wife of iconic singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, passed away on February 15, 1998. She succumbed to congestive heart failure, a condition that weakens the heart and its ability to pump blood.

Marguerite’s legacy transcends her marriage to Harry Belafonte. The two met in 1944 while Marguerite was studying at Hampton Institute, and Harry was stationed at a naval base in Norfolk, Virginia. They married in 1948 and had two daughters together. During their marriage, Marguerite was also involved in civil rights activism and supported the NAACP, contributing to the continuous fight for freedom and equality.

While it is difficult to determine Marguerite Belafonte’s exact net worth at the time of her death, it is evident that her impact on society goes beyond monetary value. Through her work with the NAACP and her support for various civil rights causes, Marguerite had a meaningful influence on the lives of many.

In the years following her passing, Marguerite Belafonte’s legacy continues to inspire others to fight for justice and equality. She played an essential role in supporting her husband’s civil rights activism and, by extension, contributed to the betterment of society as a whole.

Influence and Impact

Marguerite Belafonte, born Frances Marguerite Byrd, was an American actress who gained fame in the late 1950s for her roles in various movies, including the notable Night of the Quarter Moon (1959). Her impact on the entertainment industry can be seen through the careers of her daughters, Adrienne and Shari Belafonte, who followed in their mother’s footsteps, becoming successful actors and singers.

As the ex-wife of Harry Belafonte, a famous Jamaican-American pop star and civil rights activist, Marguerite’s influence transcended her acting career. By supporting her husband’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, Marguerite also played a role in advancing the cause of equal rights for African Americans during that time.

While Marguerite’s direct involvement in civil rights activism might not be widely documented, she indirectly influenced the movement by co-organizing fundraising campaigns for the NAACP’s Fight for Freedom Fund with prominent figures such as Duke Ellington and Jackie Robinson. Through her work with these campaigns, she helped raise funds and awareness for the civil rights cause during a pivotal time in American history.

In today’s digital era, Marguerite Belafonte’s legacy lives on as people continue to recognize her contributions to both the entertainment industry and the civil rights movement on social media platforms. While she might not have a personal brand comparable to contemporary activists or actors, her life’s work continues to have a lasting impact on those who are inspired by her actions and the work she did alongside her husband and fellow activists.

Overall, Marguerite Belafonte’s influence and impact demonstrate the power of combining personal passions with social activism. By using her success in the entertainment industry to promote the Civil Rights Movement, she made a meaningful and lasting contribution to advancing social justice and equality.