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Pearl Bailey

Pearl Bailey

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Also Known As: Pearl Mae Bailey Died: August 17, 1990
Born: March 29, 1918 Cause of Death: probable heart attack
Birth Place: Newport News, Virginia, USA Profession: singer, actor, dancer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This Broadway musical star was noted for her trademark song delivery in which she interrupted a number to make comic asides to the audience. Bailey began her career performing in amateur shows and as a band singer in vaudeville and cabarets where she was known at first as the younger sister of dancer Bill Bailey. By the mid-1940s, she had evolved her own unique style of delivery--a slyly sultry and husky drawl--and her superb comic timing which she displayed in her hit recording "Tired" and her show-stopping performance in the 1946 Broadway musical "St. Louis Woman".The following year, Bailey made her film debut in "Variety Girl" (1947), and while her magnetic personality made itself felt in featured "best friend" roles in the lush film musicals "Carmen Jones" (1955) and "Porgy and Bess" (1959) and as an earthy, savvy presence in the melodramas "St Louis Blues" (1958) and "All the Fine Young Cannibals" (1960), it was on the musical and cabaret stage that she was a star. Bailey triumphed on Broadway as a practical-minded madam in the Truman Capote/Harold Arlen collaboration "House of Flowers" (1955) and as the perennial matchmaker Dolly Levi in the all-black production of "Hello, Dolly!" (1967). By...

This Broadway musical star was noted for her trademark song delivery in which she interrupted a number to make comic asides to the audience. Bailey began her career performing in amateur shows and as a band singer in vaudeville and cabarets where she was known at first as the younger sister of dancer Bill Bailey. By the mid-1940s, she had evolved her own unique style of delivery--a slyly sultry and husky drawl--and her superb comic timing which she displayed in her hit recording "Tired" and her show-stopping performance in the 1946 Broadway musical "St. Louis Woman".

The following year, Bailey made her film debut in "Variety Girl" (1947), and while her magnetic personality made itself felt in featured "best friend" roles in the lush film musicals "Carmen Jones" (1955) and "Porgy and Bess" (1959) and as an earthy, savvy presence in the melodramas "St Louis Blues" (1958) and "All the Fine Young Cannibals" (1960), it was on the musical and cabaret stage that she was a star. Bailey triumphed on Broadway as a practical-minded madam in the Truman Capote/Harold Arlen collaboration "House of Flowers" (1955) and as the perennial matchmaker Dolly Levi in the all-black production of "Hello, Dolly!" (1967). By the 1970s, Bailey was a familiar presence, chatting on talk shows, posing with innumerable presidents and hosting her own TV series in 1971.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Peter Gunn (1989) Mother
2.
 Fox and the Hound, The (1981) Voice Of Big Mama
3.
 Norman...Is That You? (1976) Beatrice Chambers
4.
 The Landlord (1970) Marge
5.
 All the Fine Young Cannibals (1960) Ruby [Jones]
6.
 Porgy and Bess (1959) Maria
7.
 St. Louis Blues (1958) Aunt Hagar
8.
 That Certain Feeling (1956) Gussie
9.
 Carmen Jones (1955) Frankie
10.
 Isn't It Romantic (1948) Addie
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Went to live with mother in Washington, DC after parents' divorce
:
Entered amateur shows at age 15
1933:
Began career as touring singer/dancer; debut on the vaudeville stage at the Pearl Theatre in Philadelphia
1941:
First New York engagment (the Village Vanguard)
1943:
Toured with Cootie Williams's band
1946:
Broadway debut in the musical comedy "St. Louis Woman"
1947:
Film acting debut in "Variety Girl"
1948:
Appeared on the first telecast of Milton Berle's "Texaco Star Theater" (June)
1967:
Starred on Broadway in the all-black production of "Hello, Dolly!"
1969:
Appeared on a TV special with Carol Channing
1971:
Hosted own TV show, "The Pearl Bailey Show"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

William Penn High School: Philadelphia , Pennsylvania -
Georgetown University: Washington , Washington D.C. - 1978 - 1985

Notes

"Pearl Bailey, the first black beauty to make waves [in the postwar era], was hardly anyone's idea of a woman who might use sex to stalk a man down or to lash out at society. Instead Pearlie Mae personified the lively down-home diva, the ordinary, chatty, wisecracking neighborly lady who was telling a generation scared of its own shadow to just cool it honey, sit back, relax, and have some fun. She became a star by often laughing at and joking about the birds and bees, romance and men ...

Another comic selling point was her fatigue ... Sometimes Bailey's act was criticized as being a throwback to prewar stereotypes. Actually, the humor was both old and new ... Bailey, however, was always a soothing figure. She used humor to communicate her view of the world as a joyous, harmonious place that had no great problems or tensions. (This point of view, so much admired in the fifties, often distressed younger black audiences of later periods.) --Donald Bogle ("Brown Sugar", Da Capo Press, 1980)

She was named Cue Magazine's Entertainer of the Year (1967).

Received the March of Dimes Award in 1968.

She was appointed "Ambassador of Love to the Entire World" in 1971.

Named special advisor to the US Mission to the United Nations by former President Gerald Ford in 1975.

She received the USO's Woman of the Year Award twice.

Awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1988.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
John Randolph Pinkett Jr. Married on August 31, 1948; divorced in March 1952.
husband:
Louis Bellson. Drummer. Married in London on November 19, 1952; fourth husband; born c. 1924.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Joseph James Bailey. Pentecostal preacher. Of her father, Bailey said: "From him I got the wisdom, the philosophizing, the soul".
mother:
Ella Mae Bailey.
sister:
Virginia Bailey.
sister:
Eura Bailey.
brother:
Bill Bailey. Dancer.
brother:
Henry Bailey.
son:
Tony Bellson. Born c. 1954; adopted with Louis Bellson.
daughter:
Dee Dee Jean Bellson. Born c. 1960; adopted with Louis Bellson.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Raw Pearl"
"Pearlie Mae, Talking to Myself"
"Pearl's Kitchen"
"Duey's Tale"
"Hurry Up America and Spit"
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Contributions

yeliabbailey ( 2009-02-18 )

Source: not available

Joseph and Ella Mae had only 4 children: Bill, Eura, Pearl, and Virginia(Virgie, to family), I know this because I am the granddaughter of Eura Elizabeth's eldest son, William Wilson Lewis II. My mother Deborah Eura, has confirmed there were no other children born of their union.

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