Mona Horncastle’s biography of Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker’s path begins as a wildly dancing black girl from America with rolling eyes. With nothing but bobbing plush bananas around her hips, and only a few strings of false pearls on her upper body, she becomes a revue star in the 1920s, which is still unique today. Her world fame is based on Paris, with the Society at her feet. She is the sensation of the “Revue Nègre” at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, literally the embodiment of the prevailing enthusiasm for all forms of exotic art.

Rose-Maria Gropp

Editor in the features section, responsible for the “art market”.

Mona Horncastle begins her biography of Josephine Baker as follows: “1917. St. Louis, Missouri, USA. I’m eleven years old. ”In Baker’s personal recollections, the racial conflict in which white workers attacked people in the poorest black district of the industrial city on July 1, 1917 because they saw African Americans as competitors in the unskilled labor market, take one central position – as an “apocalypse”. With this experience, the seed was laid for Baker’s lifelong commitment against racism of all stripes and for human rights.

Airs and whims

She was born as Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3, 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Her mother is twenty-one-year-old Carrie McDonald, who gives birth at St. Louis Social Evil Hospital. After the hospital was founded in the 1870s to provide regular health checks for white prostitutes, it now mainly accepts white women.


Mona Horncastle: “Josephine Baker”. World star, freedom fighter, icon.
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Image: Molden Verlag

The fact that Carrie McDonald, a young black woman, is cared for there for six weeks for the apparently difficult birth of her daughter is astonishing and explains the mystery of her father that has never been solved. Whether he was a white man whose family Carrie McDonald might be in the service of and taking care of her in the background – which could explain Josephine Baker’s relatively light skin color – or whether it was the black drummer Eddie Carson with whom she performed for appearances the bars of St. Louis her mother never enlightened.

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