Biography of Famous Dancer Josephine Baker Part 2

About the famous dancer Josephine Baker, her biography and history.

Josephine Baker (1906-1975).

Miss Baker nearly duplicated that popularity in Berlin, Barcelona, Prague, and Budapest; but ironically, she never even approached it in her own country. When she returned to New York for the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, the critics didn't think much of her. Some of them believed that the singing lessons she'd been taking had destroyed her elemental charm, that she'd become too sophisticated. After the war, her revue--Paris Sings Again--closed in Boston not long after it opened. Though she could pack Paris music halls months on end, her appearances in even the largest American cities were always limited to just a few days.

And if living in France had allowed her to forget the bigotry in the U.S., racial hatred was thrust in her face every time she returned to her homeland. During a 1951 tour, the Stork Club dared refuse her entrance, and 3 hotels in Atlanta turned her away. (Significantly, about this time the song which usually opened her shows, "J'ai deux amours, mon pays et Paris," was changed to "Paris mes amours.") One of her later visits to this country was in 1963, to join Martin Luther King's march on Washington.

In 1956, Baker announced that her current concerts at the Paris Olympia would be her adieu. She wanted to retire to her chateau outside the city, and spend more time with her 12 adopted children, mostly of different nationalities and of several different colors. But her plans to turn the house into a tourist attraction failed. Money running low, she returned to the stage 3 years later. She came out of retirement to make, like Sarah Bernhardt, just one more farewell tour.

In 1973, the 67-year-old Miss Baker performed for enthusiastic audiences in New York City and Los Angeles, her 1st appearance in the U.S. since 1964. One Los Angeles reviewer wrote: "At the end of her show, Miss Baker sings 'My Way,' which was written for Frank Sinatra but is far more meaningful as she sings it. The thought comes to mind--Sinatra thinks HE's a living legend? Go sit down, Frank. You aren't even close."

In April, 1975, Miss Baker died apparently of a cerebral hemorrhage. She was 69.

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