Ambassador of Love

President Gerald R. Ford watches Pearl Bailey sing during an impromptu performance after a State Dinner honoring the Shah of Iran on May 15, 1975.
A4590-31A / NAID: 7518987
Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

Asked to be the Ambassador of Love by President Richard Nixon, performer and Tony Award winner Pearl Bailey was adored by many a world leader.  In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford appointed Bailey to be a Special Ambassador to the United Nations and in this role she performed for foreign leaders such as Anwar al-Sadat (Egypt) and King Hussein (Jordan).  Bailey held this position under the presidencies of Ford, Carter, and Reagan, with the latter bestowing upon her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988.

The Fords loved Pearl Bailey, inviting her to the White House to perform and taking in one of her last “Hello Dolly” performances at the Kennedy Center.  In 1975, Bailey stepped in to perform at the Sadat State Dinner when Johnny Cash had to cancel.  

Actor Omar Sharif on stage with singer Pearl Bailey as she performs during the entertainment portion of a State Dinner honoring President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt on October 27, 1975.
A7044-15A / NAID: 7839982
Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

Bailey also handmade a ski cap for the President before he left office!  (It must have been loved and kept by President Ford, as the Museum does not have it in its collections.)  Here are just a couple of items that are in the holdings of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum related to Pearl Bailey.

This print, featuring Pearl Bailey, was the last in a series of four black and white posters of advertisements with a Bicentennial theme. Bailey’s quotes on the poster encourage mankind to love each other. 
Gift of John E. Pellegrene
Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
This tambourine features an image of actress Pearl Bailey on the front. Printed on the inside of the tambourine is: “Pearl’s Gems: ‘Don’t worry about the winter, it has its charms, care for the spring, and summer’s open arms.'”
Gift of Betty Ford
Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum