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October 30, 2021

Portrait Photos of Pearl Bailey Taken by Carl Van Vechten in 1946

Born 1918 in Newport News, Virginia, American actress and singer Pearl 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. After appearing in vaudeville, she made her Broadway debut in St. Louis Woman in 1946.


Bailey received a Special 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. Her rendition of “Takes Two to Tango” hit the top ten in 1952. She received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 1976 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom on October 17, 1988.

Bailey died from arteriosclerosis, with significant narrowing of the coronary artery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia in 1990, aged 72. These fabulous photos of young Pearl Bailey were taken by Carl Van Vechten on July 5, 1946.


















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