The famous singer and actress Josephine Baker shocked the audience not only with her shocking numbers, but also with a fantastic sense of style. She caught the tendencies, had an exceptional taste both in music and dance, and in clothes.
Born Josephine Baker, nee McDonald, July 3, 1906 in St. Louis. Her mother was black dancer Carrie MacDonald, and her father was drummer Eddie Carson, although information about him is inaccurate. The couple was not married: a year after the appearance of the daughter, his father disappeared from their life forever. But the bohemian spirit, which was inherent in the parents, remained forever in the blood of the young Josephine.
Her hometown was distinguished by the fact that emigrants from different countries lived here, they exchanged their cultural traditions, creating a unique and bright mixture. It was this city of dance that formed the future star. When the girl was five years old, her mother remarried, and the stepfather adopted the children of Carrie - so Josefina had an official father.
In July 1917, in St. Louis, there was an Eastern riot, which ended in a mass slaughter of the black population, in which more than 400 people died. This event shocked the little girl: for the rest of her life she will retain hatred for racial differences and will fiercely struggle with the inequality and oppression of people on the basis of race. Since childhood Josefina adored to dance, at the age of 13 she learned all the dances that were performed in her multinational city.
Growing up and dancing
At age 13, the mother gives Josephine a married elderly Willie Wells. At the same time, the girl takes the first steps on the big stage, she is given the opportunity to show several numbers in the theater "Booker Washington". The dance was her way of life, she later said that she danced always when she was happy, sad and even bitter. Dance is her way of self-expression.
At age 16, Josephine begins her professional career as a dancer, joining the Philadelphia Theater Standard. Later, she moved to the theatrical Mecca of America - New York, where she managed to get into the corps de ballet in the popular vaudeville, with which she went on a six-year tour of the United States.
Three years passed: the dancer took part in several projects, her performance in the nightclub was noticed by the agent, who was just recruiting the company for La Revue Nègre. In October 1925, Josefina debuted with a revue on the stage of the Paris Theater on the Champs Elysées. From this moment begins her path to success.
In the performance of Josephine, the French first saw Charleston, and this became a real cultural shock for them . The success of the show was extraordinary: a black dancer embodied exotic and unusual, every secular man considered it his duty to see her dance. The revue with tours also took place in Brussels and Berlin, and everywhere Mademoiselle Baker was waiting for an incredible success with a touch of scandal.
Prudish religious critics accused her of debauchery and immorality, but the advanced layers accepted "with a bang." For example, the German nudists perceived it as the embodiment of freedom and wanted to make an honorary member of their society, but Josephine politely declined. Her candid clothes, or rather, their almost complete absence, caused the show, after numerous demonstrations, to prohibit touring in Vienna, Budapest, Munich and Prague.
The Conquest of Europe
In 1926, Josephine Baker becomes an actress in a revue at the Paris Theater Foley-Berger. She is already the main star of the show, attracting the bohemian audience. The audacity of the dancer, appearing on the stage almost nude, beckoned to the audience, who had not seen such frankness even in the Paris cabaret.
The real superstar was Josephine Baker: a skirt of bananas shocked people who came to her speech. Her nude body, exotic appearance and extravagant dances and costumes - all this was to the liking of Paris, which was permeated with avant-garde moods. The actress is favorably received by the French bohemia, poets devote her poetry, sculptors sculpt busts of the girl, artists paint her portraits. The architect Adolf Loos designs a whole house for her, Le Corbusier, inspired by her dance, creates the "Savoy" villa, Gertrude Stein devotes several poems to prose. Josephine is friendly with Picasso, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Matisse.
In 1927, she begins acting in films, a number of films appear in which she plays the main roles: "Wild Dance", "Folies-Berger", "Sirens of the Tropics", "Zu-zu". During this period she was the highest paid actress in Europe. Everyone was fascinated by the extravagant dancer, but by the end of the thirties her fame had subsided a little, and the show Ziegfeld Follies had expected a failure, but not in the tradition of the woman to suffer or give up for a long time. In 1937, Josephine Baker received French citizenship and rightfully began to consider this country her second homeland.
Life in the style of jazz
Josephine grew up in the era of the growing popularity of jazz, the very nature of it corresponded to this music. She was alive, inclined to impromptu and improvised. Her dance combined several directions and even surpassed many of them, for example hip-hop and break-dance.
In the 1920s, Josefina begins to sing, and gradually it becomes her main occupation. As her fame as a dancer declined, she increasingly turned to vocal. Since the late 30-ies, Josephine Baker - a jazz singer. She becomes very popular, her most famous songs: J'ai deux amours, Pretty Little Baby, Aux Îles Hawai - come out with records with thousands of copies.
Years of War
Josephine Baker, whose photo was adorned with a lot of posters, all her life was an ardent opponent of any discrimination, especially racial. When the Second World War began, she considered it her duty to stand up for her new homeland. The woman joined the volunteer army "Free France" and immediately offered President Charles de Gaulle assistance.
She was a member of the circle of diplomats and, using her female charms, easily attracted military secrets. Later, the girl graduated from the courses of pilots and rose during the war to the rank of junior lieutenant of the female auxiliary squadron. She also supported the French resistance with money and connections. For her military exploits, Josephine was awarded the Order of the Honorary Legion, the "Military Cross", medals "Resistance" and "For Liberation".
At the end of the war, Josephine Baker again returns to music and performances. It begins a series of her departures from the stage and triumphant returns. She travels around the world a lot, trying to engage in various social activities. Her freedom-loving statements in America led to the fact that she was interested in the FBI and watched her for the rest of her life.
Even at the height of his heyday, Josephine Baker bought the castle "Le Miland" of the 15th century and realized her ideas about justice there. She helped the poor, gave presents to the nearby village for Christmas. Grateful people during the war were able to save the castle from ruin. After the end of the battles, Josephine organizes a place of international pilgrimage there, realizing the project "Tribe of the rainbow". Its form of struggle for racial equality was the adoption of 12 children of different nationalities and races.
Josephine was not only a famous dancer and singer, she gained fame as a trendsetter. So, the haircut of Josephine Baker in the 1920s became an example for Parisians, who, trying to imitate her, ruthlessly cut their hair.
The woman grew up in poverty and therefore spent her whole life adoring beautiful dresses, hats and ornaments. Her outfits from famous couturiers could be envied by any movie stars. If there were women in Paris, causing a sigh of admiration at every appearance, then this was Josephine Baker. The style of the singer's cap caused general admiration. In her wardrobe there were hundreds of headdresses: from exotic products with feathers to bandages in the form of turban.
She also had a huge amount of jewelry, especially she loved pearls, which looked great on dark skin. The best hairdressers, such as Monsieur Antoine, dreamed of such a famous client as Josephine Baker, whose hairstyle attracted attention. He came up with a special style for the dancer, which was kept during the dance. This in the 1920s marked the beginning of a fashion for smooth hair with a wave.
Josephine Baker lived a turbulent life. She was officially married five times, and she is credited with a huge number of novels both with men and with women. Her last marriage with Jo Bullon lasted the longest, but the adoption of the eleventh child exhausted his patience. After the divorce of the case, Baker went worse, and in 1969 she sold the castle because of debts. She again had to go on stage. In 1975 she gives the premiere of the show "Josephine", which cost her a great effort. Four days after the premiere, she left the world.