Christmas for many Detroit baby boomers wasn't complete without a trip to downtown Detroit's  J.L. Hudson's building  for a visit with Santa Claus. Everyone knew that the real St. Nick held court on the twelfth floor of that grand old building. Assisting Santa was a cute, pigtailed young girl named Christmas Carol. The character was created and portrayed by Maureen Bailey, a 15-year-old student at Little Flower High School in Royal Oak, Michigan.

  A show-biz veteran by the time she played Christmas Carol, Maureen began her professional career at the tender age of three and a half singing on WXYZís Radio Schoolhouse, a quiz program hosted by Dick Osgood. By the age of seven she was acting on The Lone Ranger radio program. As a teen Maureen was a regular on WJRís Make Way For Youth, heard nationally on the CBS radio network.

Maureen Bailey (front row, second from the left), WXYZ's Radio Schoolhouse.

 While attending Little Flower, the talented teen was told that   she could pursue her performing career as long as she maintained a B+ average, which she did. In 1953 Maureen created the legendary Detroit character of Christmas Carol. With a small costume sketch and synopsis in hand, Maureen went downtown to J.L. Hudsons. Advertising department head Duke Fisher was very impressed with Maureenís talent and youthful enthusiasm and hired her on the spot.

 The character of Christmas Carol was designed to be Santaís helper. Her duties began on Thanksgiving day, when both she and Santa would accept the key to the city from Detroit mayor Albert Cobo at the end of the Hudsonís Thanksgiving Day Parade. A special area on the 12th floor of Hudsonís was created just for Christmas Carol to receive the children before their visit with Santa. Christmas Carol also got a chance to showcase her lovely singing voice by performing holiday songs  for the youngsters.

  Maureen insisted that groups of children with Cerebral Palsy and Muscular Dystrophy be given the opportunity to visit with Christmas Carol and Santa Claus. She also visited the childrenís ward of area hospitals, singing songs and spreading holiday cheer.

  Christmas Carol became so popular that the world-famous Madame Alexander doll company created a special doll in her likeness, complete with pigtails, red dress, starched apron and patent leather shoes. 

  Maureen kept very busy the other eleven months of the year. She sang on Lunch With Soupy Sales, appeared in industrial films, did many television commercials and was a weather girl on WWJ and WJBK TV. 

  Maureen played Christmas Carol from 1953 to 1955. In 1956, she left Detroit for New York City, where she appeared on Broadway opposite such stars as Dick Van Dyke, Joel Gray, Woody Allen, Shelley Berman, Theodore Bikel and Nancy Walker. Her New York TV credits include The Tonight Show, Make Mine Music with Dick Haymes and New York Scrapbook, a David Susskind produced weekly musical revue where she costarred with Kaye Ballard and Orson Bean.

  Perhaps Maureenís most fondly remembered performance is the role of Wendy in the classic 1960 NBC color production of Peter Pan, with Mary Martin. Soon after that, she took over the role Liesyl Von Trapp in the Broadway production of The Sound of Music, also with Mary Martin. . Maureen then toured nationally with Camelot, eventually taking up residence in Los Angeles.

 She continued her performing career, co-starring in West Coast and LA Music Center productions with John Raitt, Louis Nye, Phil Silvers, Ruth Warrick, Art Lund and Pat OíBrien. Maureen also was a regular in the 1966 NBC sitcom Occasional Wife, playing opposite Michael Callan.

  Maureen decided to explore the creative end of the business when she wrote and recorded for Specialty Records, then signed on with the Motown label, where she began an eleven-year relationship. Maureen not only wrote, but also arranged and did production work with such stars as Jermaine Jackson, The Fifth Dimension, Syreeta, Thelma Houston, George Benson and DeBarge. She has also written music cues for the 1996 Summer Olympics and  soap operas The Guiding Light and General Hospital. Maureen also wrote music for the movie A Night At The Roxbury starring Saturday Night Live's Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan.

 A handful of women portrayed Christmas Carol after Maureen left Detroit, including Jeanie Daar, Toni Urso-Salvador and Jo-Jo Shutty-MacGregor. Christmas Carol's last appearance in the parade was in 1992. A forty year tradition ended in 1993 when The Parade Company, current producers of the parade, received complaints that Santa had a pretty young girl in his sleigh, while Mrs. Claus was relegated to her own float in the middle of the parade.

  Maureen Bailey died of congestive heart failure on June 15, 2010. She will always be fondly remembered by Detroit's earliest baby boomers as Christmas Carol, Santa's official helper.