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Women’s History Month

All-Star #10: Pearl Bailey

Women’s History Month

All-Star #10: Pearl Bailey

A governor. The world’s first computer programmers. Lawyers, doctors, writers, artists and activists. Philadelphia’s history is full of incredible, history-making women whose stories, unfortunately, are often all but missing from the history books.

It shouldn’t take a dedicated month—Women’s History Month—to recognize the contributions of these heroines. But in honor of the occasion, we scoured history to find several badass Philly women to celebrate for our Women’s History Month All-Stars.

RELATED: A cadre of visionary women are behind Guild House Hotel—a newly opened boutique hotel that celebrates the history residing in our buildings by giving props to the early feminists who initially occupied the property.

10

Pearl Bailey

Singer / Actress

Pearl Bailey

Singer / Actress

1918-1990

Pearl Mae Bailey was a rousing singer and actress, known for live performances that mixed humor and music, and for a long stage and movie career. She got her start in Black Philly nightclubs in the 1930s, performed with the U.S.O. during World War II, and then on Broadway, film and television.

Bailey won a Tony for the title role in an all-Black version of Hello Dolly!, which also starred Cab Calloway. Her best known stage roles were Maria in Porgy and Bess and Frankie in Carmen Jones, and her hit songs were plentiful: ”Two to Tango,” ”Toot Toot Tootsie, Goodbye,” ”That’s Good Enough for Me,” and “Fifteen Years (And I’m Still Serving Time),” to name just a few.


EDUCATION

  • Georgetown University, theology degree—at age 67


ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • Won a 1968 Tony Award for starring in the all-Black production of Hello, Dolly!
  • Won a Daytime Emmy Award
  • Recorded multiple albums for different labels
  • TV, movie and voice actress
  • Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan


FINAL WORDS
:
Her 1990 New York Times obituary quotes Bailey as having said, “I’m not a comedienne. I call myself a humorist. I tell stories to music and, thank God, in tune. I laugh at people who call me an actress.”


VIDEO CONTENT


RELATED READING

Photo courtesy William Morris Agency / Wikimedia Commons

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