|A matt silver print printed on stiff, double-weight paper showing the American singer and actress Pearl Bailey.
Born in Virginia in 1918, Bailey was the daughter of a minister, and she later attributed her love of music and her vocal ability to singing in his church. She spent her early career in amateur shows and nightclubs, where she developed her throaty style, embellished with asides and ad libs. She appeared in cafés, nightclubs and theatres in northeastern American cities, at times singing with big bands, including those led by Cootie Williams and Count Basie. She recorded several albums with each. An eight-month at the Blue Angel in New York (1944-45) led to her joining Cab Calloway for theatre and nightclub engagements. She appeared in her first Broadway musical, St Louis Woman, in 1946 and her first film, Variety Girl, in 1947. In 1954 she appeared in Carmen Jones and in 1959 she had a supporting role in the film version of Porgy and Bess. Her most memorable stage appearance was as matchmaker Dolly Levi in the all-black production of Hello, Dolly!, first on Broadway (1967-69) and then on tour in the United States and Canada. She also made frequent television appearances and hosted her own show, The Pearl Bailey Show (1971).
She was married three times; her last marriage, to drummer Louis Bellson, lasted 40 years. Together they adopted a daughter and a son. She died in Philadelphia on 17 August 1990 and was buried at Rolling Green Memorial Park in Westchester.
Photographed by Carl Van Vechten.
The photographer is identified by his blindstamp recto in the lower right-hand corner and by his wetstamp on the reverse of the print. A hand-written inscription in ink verso identifies the sitter and gives the date, 12 March 1950.
The print, which is unmounted and has no border, measures 9.5” by 6.7” (242 mm by 170 mm).
condition: In a raking light, the print presents a faint, white imperfection in the area of the sitter's cheek but is
otherwise in excellent condition.
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