Fascinating Interracial Marriages in History
Pearl Mae Bailey was a famous actress and singer and Louie Bellson was a famous jazz drummer, composer and bandleader. Bellson was Duke Ellington’s first white musician and met Bailey after being introduced by a trombone player. After a courtship lasting just four days they were married, in London. It was Bailey’s third marriage and Bellson’s first. Interracial couples were a rarity at the time, and even Bellson’s presence in the Ellington band raised some eyebrows. During some dates in some Southern cities in the United States, Ellington would claim that Bellson was of Haitian background. After their wedding, Louie Bellson spent much of his time as Pearl Bailey’s musical director, writing her arrangements and leading her accompanying bands. The Couple were married for 38 years, until Bailey’s death in 1990, at age 72. Bellson died at age 84, in 2009. The couple adopted a boy, Tony, in the mid-1950s, and girl Dee Dee, in 1960.Interesting Fact: Bailey served as a United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassador under several Republican Presidential Administrations. Even after the majority of African-Americans moved from The Republican Party to The Democratic Party in 1964, Pearl Bailey remained with The Republican Party because The Republican Party was where she and Louis Bellson found the greatest acceptance for their interracial marriage.