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Josephine Baker- Actress/ Singer/ Pioneer

Josephine Baker was a French vedette, singer and entertainer, whose career was centered primarily in Europe and in particular in her adoptive country of France. She was an African-American expatriate who later renounced her U.S. citizenship and became a French national. During her early career she was also renowned as a dancer, and was among the most celebrated performers to headline in the lavish revues of the Folies Bergère in Paris. Her performance in the revue Un Vent de Folie in 1927 caused a sensation in Paris, with Baker in her costume consisting of only a girdle of bananas becoming not only her most iconic image but also a symbol of the jazz age and the 1920's. She was celebrated by all of the great artists and intellectuals of the era, with various circles dubbing her the "Black Pearl", the "Bronze Venus", as well as the "Creole Goddess". Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she renounced her U.S. citizenship to become a citizen of France
in 1937 upon her marriage to Jean Lyon.

 

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Josephine Baker in the 1920s

It's been said that every black artist wanted to work in Harlem in the 1920s. Josephine Baker was no exception. Born With Less Than Nothing, Baker Became the Most Famous
Woman in the World Born in St. Louis in 1906, Ms. Baker was 15 when the "roaring Twenties" began. But she had been an entertainer her whole life.

By the time she was 19 she had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed in France a new woman. She was asked once how she became a dancer: "Because I was born in a cold city, because I felt cold throughout my childhood, because I always wanted to dance on stage."

Josephine Baker was hot in the 1920s but when she traveled to Harlem to make her big break she was called "too ugly, too thin, too dark" by Sissle and Blake when she auditioned for their stage show, "Shuffle Along". Because of her persistence and talent, by 1921 she was the featured performer in that same show, with her "outlandish" dance performances.

 

What Was Noticeable Was, Baker Was Different!

If you look at the early photos you're probably struck by struck by one thing. . . her eyes are always crossed as she plays to the camera.

This "goofy" persona she adopted in the early days, got Josephine the nickname "ragamuffin". But this description ignores her elegance, the litheness and beautiful way she moved around the stage.

"She had a black sealskin coat, I don't know if it was real, but when she wore it, it looked real, she would take a piece of silk and tie it around her head, and even then she looked like some oriental empress." Elizabeth Welch said: By 1924 Josephine Baker was earning $125 a week and was the highest paid chorus girl in the world. But she disliked living in segregated America with it's bigoted and racist attitudes.

 

 

Photography By Andrew Mark Photography- All rights Reserved.  No use without Permission.





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