Frida Josephine McDonald, 3 June 1906, St. Louis, Missouri, USA, d. 12 April 1975, Paris, France. After surviving a difficult childhood and an illegal marriage at the age of 13, Baker left town as a dancer with a touring show. Encouraged by Clara Smith, she persisted with her dancing. In 1921 she remarried, this time retaining her new husbands surname. As Joséphine Baker she travelled to New York to audition for the show Shuffle Along, written by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake. She was hired to dance in the chorus and later toured the USA in the same capacity. She attracted attention with her clowning, eccentric dancing and habitual face pulling and eye rolling. In 1924 she joined the new Sissle and Blake show, In Bamville, which was soon renamed The Chocolate Dandies. Also in the show were Elisabeth Welch and Valaida Snow, and although still only a minor player, Baker continued to attract attention with her sometimes contrived savagery.
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