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Authors: Jean-Claude Baker,Chris Chase

Josephine Baker

BOOK: Josephine Baker
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“Witty, fair-minded, and vastly entertaining. . . . The best biography so far.” —
New York Observer

“Sympathetic and gripping.” —
Kirkus Reviews

“In this biography, Baker, all illusions exposed, becomes fascinating, endearing, exasperating, and abundantly alive all over again.” —R
Boston Globe

“Prodigious research and outstanding narrative fluency mark this biography. The authors take you deeply inside her—with an exploding bullet—and she rises up as interesting as ever.” —
New York Times Book Review

“Told with the kind of passion and candor that Baker herself might have admired.” —
New York Daily News

“[The authors] don't attempt to justify Josephine Baker's life, only to help us understand it. . . . They are not afraid to say, ‘This is who she was.' ” —
Philadelphia Daily News

“An uproarious life, stunningly documented.” —
Hollywood Reporter

“Show business is full of mysteries, but few are as puzzling as how Josephine Baker made it from a shanty neighborhood along the Mississippi to the City of Light. . . . The story sketched here has all the scenes for one terrific Hollywood musical.” —
Chicago Tribune

“The most honest, comprehensive and ultimately affectionate book about Josephine Baker ever written. Mixing juicy anecdotes and sobering detail, the authors recreate life as riveting as the naked body that once gave it potent expression.” —
Toronto Star

“Brutally honest and, at times, pure poetry.” —
Flint Journal

“More than just a meticulously researched biography,
is an obsessive search for an ever-elusive subject, a harsh, unrelenting but loving portrait of one of the great celebrities of the twentieth century. . . . It cannot be surpassed for intimacy and immediacy.” —
Los Angeles Village View

“An exhaustive and fascinating biography. . . . One of the best.” —
San Francisco Examiner


The Hungry Heart


First Cooper Square Press edition 2001

This Cooper Square Press paperback edition of
is an unabridged republication of the edition first published in New York in 1993. It is reprinted by arrangement with the authors.

Photos without attributions are from the private collection of Jean-Claude Baker

Copyright © 1993 by Jean-Claude Baker and Chris Chase

Book design by J. K. Lambert

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review.

Published by Cooper Square Press

An Imprint of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group

150 Fifth Avenue, Suite 817

New York, New York 10011

Distributed by National Book Network

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Baker, Jean-Claude.

Josephine : the hungry heart / Jean-Claude Baker and Chris Chase.

p.  cm.

Originally published: 1st ed. New York : Random House, c1993.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-8154-1172-7

 1. Baker, Josephine, 1906–1975. 2. Dancers—France—Biography. 3. African American entertainers—France—Biography. I. Chase, Chris. II. Title.

GV1785.B3 B35 2001




The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48–1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America.

To both my mothers, with all my love,
and to William Howard Baker whose name I proudly bear

I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart



In the course of researching this book over the last twenty years, I was privileged to meet and spend time with a number of Josephine Baker's contemporaries in America. These remarkable African-Americans inspired me, especially in view of the racial injustices they were called upon to bear. Their response was not one of submissiveness but of deep and abiding faith: “Jean-Claude,” they repeatedly told me, “the Lord in His own time will reward us.” I sincerely pray He will. I wish to thank them for their kindness and generosity. I would also like to acknowledge everyone all over the world who helped on this endeavor. My apologies to anyone I may have inadvertently left out. Please, you know you are all in my heart.

I would've been lost without the invaluable help of librarians. Their tireless and often thankless efforts fuel the writing of history and no one is more representative of their lifelong dedication than Jean Blackwell Hutson, the former chief of Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, and her colleagues Deborah Willis-Thomas, Alice Adamczyk, and Jim Murray. I was greatly assisted by the following institutions: St. Louis Public Schools (Thomas J. O'Keefe and Ornelle L. Mershon); Harris-Stowe State College (Martin Knorr); St. Louis Historical Museum (Ernestine Hardge); Missouri Historical Society (Robert R. Archibald and Suzanne Stolar); St. Louis Public Library; Arkansas History Commission State Archives; Arkansas Baptist College Library; Little Rock Public Library; Memphis Shelby County Public
Library (Patricia M. Lapointe); New Orleans Hogan Jazz Archive (Curtis D. Jerde); Detroit Public Library (Jean Currie Church); University of Chicago, Department of Music (John Steiner); Chicago Historical Society;
The Lakeville Journal
Library (Robert H. Estabrook, editor); Fisk University (Ann Allen Shockley, Janice Ayer Jackson); Rutgers University Institute of Jazz Studies (Edward Berger); Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (Patricia Willis); Theatre Historical Society of America (Irvin R. Glazer); Free Library of Philadelphia (Geraldine Duclow and Lee Stanley); Philadelphia Department of Records (Ward J. Childs); the Estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Michele Clark Jenkins); Schubert Archive (Maryann Chach, Reagan Fletcher); Museum of the City of New York; Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center; University of Western Ontario; National Library of Canada (Franceen Goudet); Metropolitan Toronto Library Board (Anne Goluska); Arthur Prevost Archive, Quebec; Robert Brady Museum, Cuernavaca (Sally Sloan); Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Paris; Fondation Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques (Françoise Bertrand-Py); Institut Charles de Gaulle (L'Amiral de Gaulle, Le Général de Boissieu, Catherine Trouiller, and Mademoiselle de Bea); Centre National Jean Moulin (Geneviève Thieuleux); Archives Départementales de la Dordogne; Cinémathèque de la Danse (Patrick Bensard); Bibliothèque Royale Albert I (Jean M. Horemans and N. Tassoul); Cunard Archives Liverpool; Landesarchiv Berlin (Sabine Preuss); Dansmuseet Stockholm, Ralf de Mare collection (Lilavati Hager); the many who helped me in the passport offices and with F.B.I. files; and a special thanks to DHL, who allowed me to travel for free as a courier when I was short on cash.

To the following individuals, my heartfelt thanks: the Reverend Charles F. Rehkopf, Vergie Johnson-Kiger, Helen Englander, Albernice A. Fagan, Beredester Harvey, Louise King (the Sherlock Holmes of geneology), Joyce McDuffy Parker, Frank Driggs, Eddie Barefield, Tony Benford, Art Russell (one of the Three Dukes), Ruth Ellington, Claude Hopkins, Jr., Jean-Pierre and Eliane Laffont, Arthur Mitchell, Bobby Mitchell, Liane Mitchell, Barbara Mitchell Raskin, Hank O'Neal, Tommy Benford, Banjo Ikey Robinson, Eddie Durham, Robert S. Rappaport, Alice Staar and Ingeborg von Zitzenwitz (my favorite translators), Robert Kimball, Louis Martien, Albert Murray, Maranantha Marion Douglas-Cook, Thelma Meers-Meachum, Mabel Mercer, Jose
Orraca, Renee Epstein, Richard Mardus, Ed Wynn, Tommy Wonder, Don Dellair, Harry Watkins, Marlene Brody, Bernadette Mertl, Barry Gray, Colette Martin, George Jones, Harriette Jones-Marin, Maurice Russell, Charlotte Cohen, Bruce Kellner, Anne Leroux, Joseph Moran, Jim Neagle, George Reich, Noble Sissle, Jr., Cynthia Sissle, Dolores H. James-Johnson, Roger and Diane Green, Delilah Jackson, Harold and Fayard Nicholas, Antoine Blech, Luciano Stemberger and Capotorto G. Benedetto (who served me sympathy along with my pasta), Maurice Bataille, Christiane Fort, Alain Carrier, Rainer E. Lotz, Dominique Deschamps, Dr. Gudrun Boysen, Dr. Ole Thage, Dr. François Jarricot, Jun Hattory, Lucien R. le Lievre, Nicole Devilaine, John and Fabienne Ho, Serge Lifar, Yvette Mallet, Jean-Louis Menier, Abdelhafid El Aloui, Jaffa and Kamal Menebhi, Ali Bel Maalmem Attourti, Mohamed ben Abdelkador Alaoui, Jonathan Raskin, Georges and Marguerite Dejean, Henri Chapin, Elie Raynal, Madame Leon Burg, Josette Affergan, Father Charpagne, Consul Jean-Claude Lenoir, Jean Rumeau, Jean-Michel Rouziere, Eugene Browne, Jean-Louis Rico, Consul Celio Sandate, Consul Patricia R. Clark, Jeanne Aubert, Monsieur Coudert, Jeannine Walch, Marie-Louise Hugues, Herve and Marie Charlotte Bolot, Suzanne Dubois, Jacqueline Stone, Ishii Yoshiko, André Pousse, Donald Goodwin, Nicol Rayney, Julio Sendin, Isaac Martinez, Peter Nowotny, Hisao Sawada, Catherine Favalelli, William and Elaine Cannan, Michael and Françoise Schmidt, and Georges Vikar. A salute to my devoted team and the guests at Chez Josephine who never tired of listening to my stories.

I owe a special debt of gratitude to Jacqueline Deslauriers, Fiametta Ponti, Anne Lacombe, Hilda Eftikides, Serge and Danielle Bellanger, Sophie Reagan-Herr and family, the Rodriguez Guignery family, Bernard Houdeline, Dr. and Mrs. David C. Baker, Dr. Francis Mas, Gene Lerner, Hank Kaufman, the Lamghari-Menebhi family, the Malaury family, the Garrigou-Battut family, Roger Prigent, Al Hirschfeld, Marie and Gerard Spiers, Danielle Charbonnel, John Hawkins, Randi and Tor Hultin, Peter Jackson, Bryan and Mireille Miller, Gwin Joh Chin, Patrick Pacheco, Steven Gaines, Helen Brann, Maude Russell, Donald and Marian Wyatt, Esther James and family, John J. O'Connor, Seymour Barofsky, Clive Panton, Ronald Woodberry, Rosario and Antonella Acquista, Jacques and Jacqueline Abtey and family, Helen Morris, Emi Sawada-Kamiya, William Melvin Kelley, Barry Tarshis, William Wright,
Ernest Brawley, Richard M. Sudhalter, Helen Gary Bishop, Hank Wittemore, Howard Kissel, Howard Sanders (who along with the departed Jack Jordan were my first American bosses), Betty Lee Hunt, Maryse Bouillon, Arthur and Janie Martin and daughter Vertel, Richard Martin, Jr., Clifford Martin, Margaret Martin-Wallace and her daughter, Rama, and the Richard Martin, Sr., family in France—Patrick, Guylaine, Alain, Laurence, Catherine and my darling godchild, Nais. I would also like to bow before Mademoiselle Bauche and Madame Lion, who first opened the magic world of books for a young boy in St. Symphorien. I hope somewhere they are proud of their student. Family, too, has always been important to me and to this book. My heart belongs to my two mothers and my two families: the Tronville-Rouzauds and the Bouillon-Bakers.

BOOK: Josephine Baker
2.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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