20th Century Profiles In Sound: "The Rainbow Tribe"
Originally Transmission Date: November 14, 2007
Josephine Baker (1906/06/03 – 1975/04/12) was an entertainer, activist, French Resistance agent & bi-sexual. Her career was centered primarily in Europe, mostly in her adopted France.
During her early career she was renowned as a dancer, & was among the most celebrated performers to headline the revues of the Folies Bergère in Paris.
Her performance in the revue Un Vent de Folie in 1927 caused a sensation in Paris. Her costume, consisting of only a belt of bananas, became her most iconic (& erotic) trademark! Moreover, her stage use of "indigenous nudity" didn't seem to hurt her popularity either!
She became adored & a true symbol of the "Jazz Age" & the 1920s!
The full story of her life is an almost unbelievable story of the 20th century & this is just one small chapter of it.
This is the story of how international cabaret star Josephine Baker adopted 12 children from around the world to bring different nationalities together into one family.
It was after the second world war, when Baker began adopting the war orphans, forming the family unit she often referred to as "The Rainbow Tribe". Baker was a civil activist & she set-out to prove that "children of different ethnicities & religions could still be brothers."
She often took the children with her cross-country, & when they were at Château des Milandes, she arranged tours so visitors could walk the grounds & see how natural & happy the children in "The Rainbow Tribe" were.
Baker became increasingly regarded as controversial & outspoken. Critics claimed the family was formed as some sort of publicity stunt & at times the children themselves felt as though they were on show like animals in a zoo.
Of the tribe, Baker raised two daughters (French-born Marianne & Moroccan-born Stellina), & 10 sons. The sons are; Korean-born Jeannot (or Janot), Japanese-born Akio, Colombian-born Luis, Finnish-born Jari (now Jarry), French-born Noël & (late addition) Jean-Claude , Israeli-born Moïse, Algerian-born Brahim, Ivorian-born Koffi, & Venezuelan-born Mara.
For some time, Baker lived with her children & an enormous staff in the château in Dordogne, France, with her fourth husband, French dance band leader, Jo Bouillon. The stress of the situation would eventually drive Bouillon away....
Listen & Catch up with some of The Rainbow Tribe in 2007, when this radio documentary was first broadcast on November the 14th, marking in part, the centennial of Baker's birth the previous year.