Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker Related Information:

Josephine Baker was born as Freda McDonald on June 3rd 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri. The daughter of a laundress and a musician, much of Josephine’s early life was lived in poverty. Josephine soon learned that she was able to make extra money by performing on the streets of St. Louis for nickels and dimes.

When Josephine was 15 she married a Pullman porter named Baker, but left him when she ran away from St. Louis at age 17, feeling there was too much racial discrimination in the city. Josephine went to Paris where she quickly gained the respect of the French people. It was not long before she became known as a champion of Civil rights; Josephine disliked racial discrimination to the point that she would refuse to perform to a segregated audience.

Josephine had many twists and turns during her career. She was very popular in France, but during the McCarthy era the United States forbade her entrance. In 1937 she renounced her American citizenship and became a citizen of France.

In the late 1960's, she began having financial difficulties, and stopped performing in 1968. Princess Grace offered her a home in Monaco when she learned of Josephine's financial problems. At the request of Princess Grace, she performed at Monaco's summer ball in 1974, and was a great success.

Josephine had just begun a Paris revue celebrating her half-century on the stage, when on April 10th she was stricken with a brain hemorrhage and went into a coma.

She died without regaining consciousness.

Her funeral was held in Paris, and she was buried in Monaco .

 

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