From Library Journal
Nearly two decades after her death, the legend of Josephine Baker continues to flourish. Subject of a number of books and recent films, "the most successful music hall performer ever to take the stage" (according to Ebony magazine) was larger than life: She was the toast of Paris in the 1920s, star of stage and screen in the 1930s, Red Cross volunteer and undercover agent in World War II, participant in the 1963 Civil Rights Movement march on Washington, and star of several farewell (and comeback) tours. Baker adopted 12 children of different races and called them her "rainbow tribe." Jean-Claude, "the 13th of her twelve adopted children," and Chase have crafted a biography rich in anecdotes and personal recollections of many of her fellow entertainers. This intriguing story is recommended for most public libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/93.- Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Josephine Baker "adopted" 14-year-old Jean-Claude when he waited on her in a Paris hotel. Although they didn't meet again until the last years of Josephine Baker's crazy, improvised life, Jean-Claude sustained an intense fascination for this most original and flamboyant of women and, after her death, devoted himself to learning as much of the truth about her as he could. His is not a scholarly biography but rather an impassioned, bemused, frank, and fond portrait of a woman who reinvented herself as often as the moon changes shape. Josephine, the daughter of an unloving black mother and an unidentified, most likely white father, became stagestruck early on and quickly left her miserable childhood behind to begin her metamorphosis from a poor, gawky, clowning youngster into an international sex symbol. Jean-Claude does a fine job of chronicling Josephine's progress from chorus girl to the hottest commodity in Paris during the heady years between the world wars. Hard as she worked on perfecting her talents, Josephine remained a wild child, capricious, manipulative, mercurial, and sexually voracious. Jean-Claude reveals all about Josephine's many conquests of both sexes, her penchant for telling lies, and her extreme eccentricity, but he always makes sure we recognize her unfailing sense of humor and endless craving for admiration. As we watch Josephine grow from chanteuse to hero of the Resistance, from seductress to adoptive mother of 12 children of different racial backgrounds, we marvel at her resiliency, zest for life, and sheer chutzpah. Donna Seaman
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