Friday, January 20, 2012
Josephine McDonald Baker married her second husband at fifteen(!) and then promptly became a hit dancer and comic in vaudeville, on Broadway, and even in Paris. She was given a medal for using her fame and connections to gather intelligence for the French Resistance in World War II, but she was still refused service at the famous Stork Club in New York City because of her race. Furious, she caused a public scene, yelling at columnist Walter Winchell for not coming to her aid. After that, she stopped entertaining in any club or theater that was not racially integrated, causing many to change their policies. Following some years of economic hard times, Baker’s tremendously successful comeback performance at Carnegie Hall when she was sixty-nine proved that an in-your-face woman never loses her touch.