Published in TurkishNY.com
Monday, 29 September 2008
 

Today I’d like to share a real lifetime story about a person in history, who impresses me a lot! “Josephine Baker.” One of her adopted sons says “My mother lived more in one day than most people do in entire lifetime” Josephine Baker born in 1906. She grew up in St. Louis in “a-one- room shack my family called home.” Sometimes she had to steal food in order to eat. She wore homemade shoes. At the age of eight, Josephine went to work. She became cook and house cleaner for a white women. The women worked her hard end sometimes beat her. She gave Josephine a placa to sleep-but it was in the cellar with a dog. Her long hours at work left Josephine little time for school, so she left after the fifth grade.Josephine was still teenager when her first marriage failed. She lerft St.Louis for Philadelphia. She wanted a career in show business, so she taught herself to sing and dans. She joined a traveling group called the Dixie Steppers. That gave her experience.She tried another marriage, this time to Willie Baker. It did not last lond. She was on her own again, but she kept the name Baker.Then the big break came. Josephine Baker landeda role in the chorus line of Shuffle Along, a Broadway musical.

In 1925,Josephine Baker sailed for Europe. She and 25 other African American put on a show in Paris. Baker took the city by storm. French audiences went wild-they simply adored her.And why not? She had everything: style, glamour, and beauty. Baker loved Paris in return. She was said, ”Paris is the dance, and I am the dancer.”

Baker went on the perform in all the great cities of Europe. Famous people were happy just to be seen with her. The author Ernest Hemingway called her ”the most beautiful women there is, there ever was, or ever will be.”

Composer and bandleader Duke Ellington once said, “There isn’t anything about the stage she doesn’t know.”

Baker’s life was full of drama off stage as well. In 1939, World War II began. Within a year, the German army had taken over France. Many French people could not accept that, so they formed a resistance movement. It was called the French Underground.

She joined the movement to help the Americans and their allies. Although her exact role in the movement was not public knowledge, the French honored Baker when the war ended. They gave her the Medal of Resistance.

As an African-American, she knew about racial prejudice. Some people judged her just by the color of her skin. But she did not let that poison her view of the word. She believed that all people could live in peace.

For her, these weren’t just words: she took action. Baker created what she called her rainbow tribe. She and her forth husband adopted 12 orphans. They came from difference races and cultures.

She worked for peace, but when it came to equality, Josephine Baker was a fighter. During the 1950s, she spoke out for civil rights in the United States. Her words got her into trouble in some circles. As a result, her U.S. shows were cancelled.

Baker had been used to living well, and her expenses stayed high. She lived in a large French country house and had 12 children to support. But she was not making enough money. The cost of it all was just too much. In 1969, she and her family were evicted from the house.

Many people would have felt crushed, but not Josephine Baker.She was never down for long. With help from Princess Grace of Monoco [former actress Grace KELLY] and other friends, she found a new home. She olso returned to the stage. By then, Baker was in her sixties, but the old fire and sparkle were still there. She was a smash hit in New York City.

In 1975, Baker went back to Paris. It had been 50 years since she first performed there. She was now 68 ducking.”years old, and again she conquered the city. A few days later, a tired but happy Josephine Baker went to bed. She never woke up. She once said of her successful career,”What a wonderful revenge for an ugly ducking.”

Sevi

 

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