The late, legendary performer Josephine Baker is the focus of the July 19 airing of "Theater Talk," the acclaimed PBS talk show that features interviews with top theatre celebrities and critics. The half-hour program will include an interview with Jean-Claude Baker, who will chat about his mother who took Paris by storm in the 1920's. Jean Claude is the owner of the famed New York City restaurant, Chez Josephine. The program will also feature a repeat of an earlier interview with playwright and sometimes-drag performer Charles Busch. Busch is the author of the long-running Broadway hit The Tale of the Allergist's Wife.
Born Frida Josephine McDonald in June 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine Baker left for Paris at age 17. She landed a job in the La Revue Nègre, but it was her performance at the Folies Bergere in 1925 that garnered her critical acclaim. A singer, dancer and all-around entertainer, Baker renounced her American citizenship in 1937 when — during the McCarthy era — she was told she was no longer welcome in the U.S. Because she was unable to conceive, she adopted 12 children throughout her life. She was awarded the French Legion of Honor in 1961 and stopped performing in 1968. Baker died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1975.
Hosted by New York Post theatre columnist Michael Riedel and producer Susan Haskins, "Theatre Talk" airs late Friday nights at 12:30 AM ET on WNET/Thirteen. Check local listings. —By Andrew Gans