The entertainer and civil rights activist had been en route to accept an award at the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation's Restore Brooklyn Annual Benefit Gala when he fell ill and had to return home.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., nephew of late President John F. Kennedy, presented the prize and revealed the star could no longer attend the ceremony in person.

After recalling stories of his family friend from his youth, Kennedy, Jr. explained, "Harry got sick on his way over here tonight. He had to return to his home, he was on his way over here, he is almost 90 years old, he spends too much time running around."

However, the 88 year old refused to skip the benefit altogether and instead rallied the energy to join the audience via speakerphone.

He told the crowd, "(I'd like to) express my deep, deep sense of regret I was not able to be in attendance this evening."

Explaining his condition, he continued, "I was in the lobby of my building, just about to step into the car to bring me to the celebration, when I had a seizure.

"Every joint in my body went into disarray. I felt that rather than rely on... all the things I could not control, I thought it was in everybody's best interest I just try to not show up."

Belafonte admitted he was saddened to miss the party, but he was honoured to receive recognition for his longtime support of the foundation, which aims to strengthen the local community by helping to provide job training, education and financial advice.

"One of the great losses of my life was (not) to be able to share an evening with you... with the mission that has been set forth (by) the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation...," he said. "(But this) remarkable award is absolutely stunning. I am very pleased."

No further details about the star's health scare were available as WENN went to press.