Short Biography on Josephine Baker

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Josephine Baker

2/27/2012

Josephine Baker (Freda Josephine McDonald) was born on June 3, 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her parents were Carrie McDonald and Eddie Carson. After Eddie left them both alone, her mom married a man named Arthur Martin. Her mother had a son and two daughters, with him giving Josephine siblings. She grew up cleaning houses, and other things for a very wealthy family. When she turned twelve years old she dropped out of school. After she dropped out she lived as a street child for awhile and she slept in cardboard boxes, and started rummaging through garbage cans for food. Josephine toured with the Junes Family Band and the Dixie Steppers in 1919.When she turned thirteen she got a job as a waitress at The Old Chauffer’s Club. While there she met Willie Wells who she then married in 1921. That same year they divorced and she then married Willie Baker whose last name she kept. When the tour was over everyone went their separate ways. Josephine then tried to get a part as a chorus girl for the Dixie Steppers in a production called “Shuffle Along”. Sadly she was rejected because they said she was “too dark and too skinny”. Turned down, she still learned the chorus line’s while working as the dresser. So when one of the dancers’s had to leave, Josephine was the obvious person for the job. Onstage she rolled her eyes and acted clumsy. The audience absolutely loved it. This made Josephine a big person in the show that people really paid to see. She enjoyed her success at The Plantation Club after “Shuffle Along”. But shortly after when Josephine traveled to Paris for “La Revue Negre” it was definitely the turning point in her career. Her and her partner Joe Alex dazzled the audience with the Danse Sauvage. The whole routine was new and out of this world and Josephine wore nothing but a banana skirt. By the end of the show she was an overnight sensation. Due to her popularity she got paid a good amount of money, which was mostly spent on...
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