Josephine Baker in Monaco
Everyone knows that Josephine Baker was a huge star and possibly the world’s first black celebrity. She set off a scandal in Paris in the 1920′s in ‘La Revue Nègre’, where she made the Charleston fashionable wearing only a grass skirt covered with bananas.
But this unforgettable performer who sang “J’ai deux amours” (“I have two loves”, referring to her homeland and Paris) was also a generous and committed woman. After the war, she used her considerable fortune to buy the Domaine des Milandes, a château in the Périgord, where she brought up her many adopted children, orphans from all over the world whom she called her ‘rainbow tribe’.
By the mid-1960s, Josephine had used up her entire fortune. A period of darker days began. Monaco came to her rescue.
There was a risk that she would have to sell the Domaine des Milandes. Her children were suffering. She called out for help. Two women answered her call: Brigitte Bardot and Princess Grace. The first helped her financially. The second invited her to Monaco, asking for generosity at galas held in the Principality and offering her a home for life.
In 1969, the Domaine des Milandes was sold at auction. Josephine Baker was financially completely ruined at the age of 63, but thanks to the backing of Princess Grace, she again appeared on stage, in Monaco.
In 1974, she carried off another triumph in Monaco in a show celebrating the inauguration of the brand new Sporting d’Eté. Riding the wave of this success, she aspired to perform in Paris again. In 1975, Josephine Baker returned to the stage at the Bobino to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her career. At 69 years old, she was triumphant. But the day after the show, she died of a brain haemorrhage. In keeping with Princess Grace’s wishes, she was buried at the Monaco Cemetery.