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.