Biography

Pearl Mae Bailey, born in Virginia on March 29, 1918, was an American actress and singer. Bailey began by singing and dancing in Philadelphia’s black nightclubs in the 1930s, and soon started performing in other parts of the East Coast. In 1941, during World War II, Bailey toured the country with the USO, performing for American troops. After the tour, she settled in New York. Her solo successes as a nightclub performer were followed by acts with such entertainers as Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. In 1946, Bailey made her Broadway debut in St. Louis Woman. Bailey continued to tour and record albums in between her stage and screen performances. Her rendition of "Takes Two to Tango" hit the top ten in 1952. On November 19, 1952, Bailey married jazz drummer Louie Bellson in London. They adopted a child, Tony, in the mid-1950s, and subsequently a girl, Dee Dee J. Bellson, born April 20, 1960. In 1954, she took the role of Frankie in the film version of Carmen Jones, and her rendition of "Beat Out That Rhythm on the Drum" is one of the highlights of the film. She also starred in the Broadway musical House of Flowers. In 1959, she played the role of Maria in the film version of Porgy and Bess, starring Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge. Also that year, she played the role of "Aunt Hagar" in the movie St. Louis Blues, alongside Mahalia Jackson, Eartha Kitt, and Nat King Cole. Though she was originally considered for the part of Annie Johnson in the 1959 film Imitation of Life, the part went to Juanita Moore. A passionate fan of the New York Mets, Bailey sang the national anthem at Shea Stadium prior to game 5 of the 1969 World Series, and appears in the Series highlight film showing her support for the team. She also sang the national anthem prior to game 1 of the 1981 World Series between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers at Yankee Stadium. Bailey, a Republican, was appointed by President Richard Nixon as America's "Ambassador of Love" in 1970. She attended several meetings of the United Nations and later appeared in a campaign ad for President Gerald Ford in the 1976 election. Also during the 1970s she had her own television show, and she also provided voices for animations such as Tubby the Tuba (1976) and Disney's The Fox and the Hound (1981). She returned to Broadway in 1975, playing the lead in an all-black production of Hello, Dolly!. At age 67, she earned a B.A. in theology from GeorgetownUniversity in Washington, D.C., in 1985. Later in her career, Bailey was a fixture as a spokesperson in a series of Duncan Hines commercials, singing "Bill Bailey (Won't You Come Home)". In her later years Bailey wrote several books: The Raw Pearl (1968), Talking to Myself (1971), Pearl's Kitchen (1973), and Hurry Up America and Spit (1976). In 1975 she was appointed special ambassador to the United Nations by President Gerald Ford. Her last book, Between You and Me (1989), details her experiences with higher education. In 1988 Bailey received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan. On August 17, 1990, Bailey died of heart condition. She is buried at RollingGreenMemorial Park in West Chester, Pennsylvania. During her lifetime, she won a Tony Award for the title role in the all-black production of Hello, Dolly! in 1968. In 1986, she won a Daytime Emmy award for her performance as a fairy godmother in the ABC Afterschool Special, Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairy Tale.

Pearl Mae Bailey, born in Virginia on March 29, 1918, was an American actress and singer. Bailey began by singing and dancing in Philadelphia’s black nightclubs in the 1930s, and soon started performing in other parts of the East Coast. In 1941, during World War II, Bailey toured the country with the USO, performing for American troops. After the tour, she settled in New York. Her solo successes as a nightclub performer were followed by acts with such entertainers as Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. In 1946, Bailey made her Broadway debut in St. Louis Woman. Bailey continued to tour and record albums in between her stage and screen performances. Her rendition of "Takes Two to Tango" hit the top ten in 1952. On November 19, 1952, Bailey married jazz drummer Louie Bellson in London. They adopted a child, Tony, in the mid-1950s, and subsequently a girl, Dee Dee J. Bellson, born April 20, 1960. In 1954, she took the role of Frankie in the film version of Carmen Jones, and her rendition of "Beat Out That Rhythm on the Drum" is one of the highlights of the film. She also starred in the Broadway musical House of Flowers. In 1959, she played the role of Maria in the film version of Porgy and Bess, starring Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge. Also that year, she played the role of "Aunt Hagar" in the movie St. Louis Blues, alongside Mahalia Jackson, Eartha Kitt, and Nat King Cole. Though she was originally considered for the part of Annie Johnson in the 1959 film Imitation of Life, the part went to Juanita Moore. A passionate fan of the New York Mets, Bailey sang the national anthem at Shea Stadium prior to game 5 of the 1969 World Series, and appears in the Series highlight film showing her support for the team. She also sang the national anthem prior to game 1 of the 1981 World Series between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers at Yankee Stadium. Bailey, a Republican, was appointed by President Richard Nixon as America's "Ambassador of Love" in 1970. She attended several meetings of the United Nations and later appeared in a campaign ad for President Gerald Ford in the 1976 election. Also during the 1970s she had her own television show, and she also provided voices for animations such as Tubby the Tuba (1976) and Disney's The Fox and the Hound (1981). She returned to Broadway in 1975, playing the lead in an all-black production of Hello, Dolly!. At age 67, she earned a B.A. in theology from GeorgetownUniversity in Washington, D.C., in 1985. Later in her career, Bailey was a fixture as a spokesperson in a series of Duncan Hines commercials, singing "Bill Bailey (Won't You Come Home)". In her later years Bailey wrote several books: The Raw Pearl (1968), Talking to Myself (1971), Pearl's Kitchen (1973), and Hurry Up America and Spit (1976). In 1975 she was appointed special ambassador to the United Nations by President Gerald Ford. Her last book, Between You and Me (1989), details her experiences with higher education. In 1988 Bailey received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan. On August 17, 1990, Bailey died of heart condition. She is buried at RollingGreenMemorial Park in West Chester, Pennsylvania. During her lifetime, she won a Tony Award for the title role in the all-black production of Hello, Dolly! in 1968. In 1986, she won a Daytime Emmy award for her performance as a fairy godmother in the ABC Afterschool Special, Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairy Tale.

Personal Info

Known For Acting

Gender Female

Known Credits 31

Birthday 1918-03-29

Day of Death 1990-08-17

Place of Birth Newport News, Virginia, USA

Official Site -

Also Known As

  • -

Acting TV ShowsMovies

2014 Bing Crosby: Rediscovered as Herself
2010 Satan Claus as Animal
2004 The World Of Nat King Cole as Herself
2004 TV in Black: The First Fifty Years
2003 Great Broadway Musical Moments from the Ed Sullivan Show as Herself
1989 Peter Gunn as Mother
1982 The Member of the Wedding as Bernice Sadie Brown
1982 Night of 100 Stars as Herself
1981 The Fox and the Hound as Big Mama (voice)
1977 The Love Boat (1 episode) as Millie Washington
1976 Norman... Is That You? as Beatrice Chambers
1976 The Muppet Show (1 episode)
1976 Donny & Marie (1 episode)
1975 Tubby the Tuba as Mrs. Elephant
1970 The Flip Wilson Show (1 episode)
1970 The Landlord as Marge, Tenant
1969 Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey: On Broadway as Herself
1967 The Carol Burnett Show (1 episode)
1960 All The Fine Young Cannibals as Ruby
1959 Porgy and Bess as Maria
1958 St. Louis Blues as Aunt Hagar
1956 The Dinah Shore Chevy Show (1 episode)
1956 The Steve Allen Show (3 episodes)
1956 That Certain Feeling as Augusta aka Gussie
1956 Tony Awards (1 episode) as Recipient / Performer (1 episode) as Herself - Presenter
1954 Carmen Jones as Frankie
1953 The Academy Awards (1 episode)
1950 Your Show of Shows (2 episodes)
1948 Isn't It Romantic? as Addie
1948 The Ed Sullivan Show (18 episodes)
1947 Variety Girl as Herself (specialty singer)

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