Josephine Baker- For Sale $450 + Shipping 24X30 Acrylic on Canvas
Josephine Baker was born June 3 in St. Louis in 1906, she was a young woman at the time of the St louis riots and likely became very aware of the massive problems with racism and race relations. By age 12 she was a street dancer and homeless. Luckily she was recognized by a St. Louis Dance Company. She was married for ...a 2nd time at the age of 15 to Willie Baker, a prominent musician in the local scene. By this age she was already working as a professional dancer and was involved in the “Shuffle Along” show in NY. With attitudes in America being what they were she, as many other talented artists did, moved to Europe and began to flourish. France in the 20’s was basically free of prejudice and her act gained a popular following, becoming more erotic as her freedom to expression grew. As well as theatre she found success in Europe’s Cinema, being one of the first black women in film. She was friends with many American artists in Paris including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald. “Chez Josephine” was the name of her very own nightclub, and she began singing more and more which eventually led to a long and successful recording career. Despite her poor French accent people loved her songs! She was a sensation In Paris and the French people adopted her quickly as one of their own becoming role model and theatre royalty in the process. By the time WWII approached she had divorced and married again, this time to a wealthy Jewish man. Returning to the U.S for a Ziegfeld Follies show in 1935, she was still forced to use the servant’s door! Renouncing her U.S citizenship she returned to Paris and entertained troops in Europe. During the war itself she was enlisted by the French to work covertly crossing borders using her celebrity as cover. Her fame extended even into the hearts of the occupying Nazis as she was never searched and carried secret documents in her sheet music. She bought a chateau and adopted 12 children all with different nationalities; she called them her rainbow children and wanted to prove that people with different backgrounds could get along. During the 40’s she turned down $10’000 for performances because she didn’t want segregated audiences. After being accused of Communist sympathies and barred entrance for 11 years she did not return to the United States until the 63’ march on Washington. She continued performing during the 50’s & 60’s and her popularity increased throughout Europe and the U.S. Although for a dancer, she was well beyond her time the act continued to be sophisticated and well respected until her death. The 70’s saw her perform 4 farewell shows at Carnegie hall and returned to Paris where she died the evening after a performance in April 1975.
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