2 3 Throwback Thursday and Josephine Baker | Ballet Webb

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday and Josephine Baker

Throwback Thursday and Josephine Baker
Long before Madonna, Beyonce, or Janet Jackson, there was American-born Josephine Baker.  She was one of the world’s first African American celebrities.
Associated mostly with the Jazz Age, Josephine Baker performed in the Folies Bergère wearing a skirt made of bananas.  It was this appearance that her career began its climb.  French audiences loved her combination of exoticism and natural charm, and she remained popular in France for many years to come.
 In 1936 she returned to the U.S. to star in the Zeigfeld Follies.  It was a disaster. American audiences were not ready for a black celebrity of her status.  Newspaper reviews were nothing less than cruel. 
In 1970 she attempted a comeback on Broadway, and in 1975, she opened a retrospective show in Paris.  She died that year, one week after the show opened, of a brain hemorrhage.
Today her influence is still felt – over one hundred years after her birth.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid #17 
“Josephine Baker was one of the world’s first African American celebrities.”

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- Waldo Emerson


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