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A Dolly a Day: Pearl Bailey

January 13th

To say Pearl Bailey’s run in Hello, Dolly! was historic would be an understatement. Pearl was the 5th Broadway Dolly opening on November 12, 1967 opposite jazz legend Cab Calloway. David Merrick had opened the show with a new all black cast. This was a huge step as a color-blind role was being played by a black woman, whereas they usually went to white women. Pearl’s performance was met with unanimous acclaim with LBJ in attendance to her opening night. Pearl was given a special Tony in 1968 for her performance. She later toured the show and opened the show’s first Broadway revival for the Christmas season in 1975 at the Minskoff Theatre. Bailey, however, got in trouble for including a “third act” of her hits after the curtain call, which led to a battle with Actor’s Equity. They said she could continue to do it, if she dismissed the cast onstage so they could go home.

Thelma Carpenter, Hello, Dolly!
Ms.Carpenter played Sunday matinees during Pearl Bailey’s run in Dolly and also served as the standby for all others performances. She went on over 100 times during the all black company’s run, at one point going on for every performance for four weeks straight!

Thelma Carpenter, Hello, Dolly!

Ms.Carpenter played Sunday matinees during Pearl Bailey’s run in Dolly and also served as the standby for all others performances. She went on over 100 times during the all black company’s run, at one point going on for every performance for four weeks straight!

The marquee for the St.James Theatre while Hello, Dolly! was starring Pearl Bailey.

The marquee for the St.James Theatre while Hello, Dolly! was starring Pearl Bailey.

Today is Jerry Herman’s (pictured here with Pearl Bailey) 82nd birthday!
Have a wonderful day Jerry! Many well wishes!

Today is Jerry Herman’s (pictured here with Pearl Bailey) 82nd birthday!

Have a wonderful day Jerry! Many well wishes!

Pearl Bailey in Hello, Dolly!

Pearl Bailey in Hello, Dolly!

Pearl Bailey performs “Before the Parade Passes By” on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Pearl Bailey performs “Before the Parade Passes By” on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Billy Daniels and Pearl Bailey in Hello, Dolly!

Billy Daniels and Pearl Bailey in Hello, Dolly!

Al Hirschfeld’s caricature of David Merrick and his three Dolly’s. 

Al Hirschfeld’s caricature of David Merrick and his three Dolly’s. 

A rare shot of the Pearl Bailey Hello, Dolly! tour marquee brought to Broadway for a special holiday engagement. 

A rare shot of the Pearl Bailey Hello, Dolly! tour marquee brought to Broadway for a special holiday engagement. 

Pearl Bailey greets Carol Channing during the curtain call of Hello, Dolly!

Pearl Bailey greets Carol Channing during the curtain call of Hello, Dolly!