Bibelots

London

Josephine Baker American French Singer Dancer Autograph & Antique Photo

£750.00

Fine original autograph signed in black ink along with an original antique photo removed from an autograph album of Josephine Baker (1906 – 1975).

She was an American-born French dancer, singer, and actress who came to be known in various circles as the "Black Pearl," "Bronze Venus" and even the "Creole Goddess". Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine later became a citizen of France in 1937. She was fluent in both English and French.

Her success coincided (1925) with the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs which gave birth to the term "Art Deco", and also with a renewal of interest in non-western forms of art, including African. Baker represented one aspect of this fashion. In later shows in Paris, she was often accompanied on stage by her pet cheetah, Chiquita, who was adorned with a diamond collar. The cheetah frequently escaped into the orchestra pit, where it terrorized the musicians, adding another element of excitement to the show. After a short while, Baker was the most successful American entertainer working in France. Ernest Hemingway called her "the most sensational woman anyone ever saw."

Although based in France, Baker supported the American Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s. When she arrived in New York with her husband Jo they were refused reservations at 36 hotels because she was black. She was so upset by the treatment that she wrote articles on the segregation in the United States and began traveling farther south. She gave a talk at the all-black Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, her subject being "France, North Africa And The Equality Of The Races In France". In addition, she refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States even after she was offered $10,000 by a Miami club. (The club eventually met her demands). Her insistence on mixed audiences helped to integrate shows in Las Vegas, Nevada, then one of the most segregated cities in America. After this incident, she began receiving threatening phone calls from the Ku Klux Klan but stated that she was not afraid of them.

During Baker's work with the Civil Rights Movement she began adopting children, forming a family she often referred to as "The Rainbow Tribe". Josephine wanted to prove that "children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers." She often took the children with her cross-country, and when they were at Château des Milandes tours were arranged so visitors could walk the grounds and see how natural and happy the children in "The Rainbow Tribe" were. Baker raised two daughters, French-born Marianne and Moroccan-born Stellina, and ten sons, Korean-born Jeannot (or Janot), Japanese-born Akio, Colombian-born Luis, Finnish-born Jari (now Jarry), French-born Jean-Claude and Noël, Israeli-born Moïse, Algerian-born Brahim, Ivorian-born Koffi, and Venezuelan-born Mara. For some time, Baker lived with her children and an enormous staff in a castle, Château des Milandes, in Dordogne, France, with her fourth husband, Jo Bouillon.

In 1964, Josephine Baker lost her castle due to unpaid debts; after, Princess Grace offered her an apartment in Roquebrune, near Monaco.

Baker was back on stage at the Olympia in Paris in 1968, in Belgrade in 1973, at Carnegie Hall in 1973, at the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium in 1974 and at the Gala du Cirque in Paris in 1974. On April 8, 1975, Baker starred in a retrospective revue at the Bobino in Paris, Joséphine à Bobino 1975, celebrating her 50 years in show business. The revue, financed notably by Prince Rainier, Princess Grace, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, opened to rave reviews. Demand for seating was such that fold-out chairs had to be added to accommodate spectators. The opening night audience included Sophia Loren, Mick Jagger, Shirley Bassey, Diana Ross, and Liza Minnelli.

Four days later, Baker was found lying peacefully in her bed surrounded by newspapers with glowing reviews of her performance. She was in a coma after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. She was taken to Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, where she died, aged 68, on April 12, 1975. She received a full Roman Catholic funeral which was held at L'Église de la Madeleine. The only American-born woman to receive full French military honors at her funeral, Baker locked up the streets of Paris one last time. After a family service at Saint-Charles Church in Monte Carlo, Baker was interred at Monaco's Cimetière de Monaco.

Signed in black ink it is housed in a modern black wooden frame and has been conserved under UV glass by Pure & Applied conservation framers of London.

"Josephine Baker"

Frame Size: 27 x 18.5 cm approx
Autograph Size: 11 x 8.5 cm approx
Photo Size: 13.5 x 10 cm approx

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