Ms. Bailey was born in Southampton County, Virginia in 1918. Her parents were Rev. Joseph and Ella Mae Bailey. She was married to jazz musician Louie Bellson. She worked as an actress and singer in movies, on stage, and on television, having her own variety show in the 1970s. She also did commercials for Duncan Hines. President Nixon appointed her as America's "Ambassador of Love", and she attended several United Nations meetings. She also worked for Gerald Ford's election campaign in 1976. She earned a B.A. in Theology from Georgetown University. She died of heart failure in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania in 1990.