Pearl Bailey: Ambassador of Love

BlogHer Original Post

Pearl Bailey, born on March 29, 1918. She won a Tony Award, in 1968, for her performance in an all-black production of Hello, Dolly! and a Daytime Emmy, in 1986, for her performance in an Afterschool Special, Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairytale. I never saw her in Hello, Dolly! and I never saw Cindy Eller, but my childhood is full of wonderful memories of Pearl Bailey and they looked like this.

I remember Pearl Bailey and Dinah Shore

I remember Pearl Bailey and Andy Williams

And I really, really remember Ms. Bailey with Donnie & Marie. I mean, who wouldn't? That was unforgettable!

I even remember Pearl Bailey in Variety Girl thanks to long, lazy weekends in front of the TV with old black and white films.

I read an article about her years ago, probably in a women's magazine or a newspaper, and have never forgotten this Pearl Bailey quote. Anytime I see a story on the news or a blog, about poverty or violence or hunger, I think of Pearl Bailey.

Hungry people cannot be good at learning or producing anything, except perhaps violence.

I remember when Pearl Bailey was appointed as special ambassador to the United Nations by President Ford. And I remember when she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Reagan. I didn't know that she was a life-long republican. I also didn't know that she enrolled at Georgetown University and earned a bachelor's degree in theology at the age of 67.

Something that I didn't know until I started writing this post, and I'm shocked that I didn't know this... Pearl Bailey was married to jazz drummer Louis Bellson for 38 years. I'm trying to imagine what that was like for them -- an interracial marriage in 1952, only a year after Josephine Baker was refused service at The Stork Club.

Pearl Bailey and Louis Bellson
Image Credit: ZUMA Press

Ambassador of Love, indeed.

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Life. Flow. Fluctuate.


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