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Brangelina -- Josephine Baker Wannabes?

11/23/2006 10:02 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

How many children will be adopted by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt? If they continue in the footsteps of famed humanitarian and sex icon Josephine Baker, they might take on an entire tribe.

The similarities between Brangelina and Baker are uncanny. Baker adopted a dozen multi-racial children and invented radical chic; Brangelina may end up adopting a dozen as well. They can afford it, Josephine couldn't ... but it didn't stop her. A princess came to her rescue.

Like Brangelina, Baker was fabulous, political, radical, chic, outrageous and controversial. This was a new kind of celebrity at that time; sexualized, outspoken, activist. The Pitt-Jolie union is all of those things as well. Here's a parallel portrait of the original diva activist, measured side by side with activists Jolie and Pitt.


With her wild abandon, Baker became a symbol for sexual liberation in the 20s and 30s. She got her first big break in 1921 when she was cast by legendary producer Fluornoy Miller in the chorus of "Shuffle Along," the first all-black show on Broadway. Her comedic dancing stole the show. She was asked to perform at various clubs, but could not abide segregated audiences at places like Harlem's Cotton Club, and she left the U.S. in 1925 for a more open-minded France. She became an overnight sensation by singing and dancing in nothing more than a feather skirt in the Danse Souvage, and with a pet cheetah at the Folies-Bergère in a skirt made famously of bananas. She starred in two films ("Zouzou" and "Princess Tam Tam") and made numerous recordings.

Josephine BakerHer prodigious affairs (which she later said numbered nearly a thousand) were rumored to have included Greta Garbo and Frida Kahlo. In the age before video, she was the most photographed woman in the world, and earned more money than any entertainer in Europe. Brad and Angelina are arguably the most photographed, sexualized, politicized celebrities in the world.

During the occupation of France in World War II, Baker helped the French Underground, and was later awarded both the prestigious Croix de Guerre and Légion d'Honneur by the French government.

Like Brangelina, Baker was married a few times. In 1947 she wed French orchestra leader Jo Bouillon, who helped her raise a dozen adopted children of different races, whom she called her "Rainbow Tribe." First was Akio from Korea, Teruya from Japan, Jari from Finland and Luis from Colombia, and eight others from around the world. She visited the U.S. in the 1950s to help fight racism, and was refused service at New York's famed Stork Club. She was the only woman to speak at Martin Luther King's March on Washington. She told the crowd they looked "Like salt and pepper. Just what it should be." Rosa Parks was the mother of the civil rights movement, but Josephine Baker was its muse.

Josephine believed that "children of different ethnicity and religions could be brothers." She bought Château de Milandes, a castle in which to raise her tribe. She called them "an experiment in brotherhood." After various health problems, she eventually went broke. Princess Grace of Monaco (Grace Kelly) came to her rescue, helping her stage a comeback and find a new place for her tribe. At age 68, Baker staged a wildly successful 50-year retrospective of her life, entitled "Josephine." It opened at Club Bobino in Paris, April 8, 1975, followed by a star-studded party which lasted two days. Audiences were stunned to learn that Josephine suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on the morning of April 10, while reading rave reviews of her stunning comeback. She never regained consciousness, and died two days later. She was given a televised state funeral in France, with a 21-gun salute. Over 20,000 people attended.

Angelina and Brad will likely continue their humanitarian efforts. Brad has helped the Katrina victims, Habitat for Humanity and others. Angelina serves as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations. They have three children, Maddox from Cambodia, and Zahara from Ethiopia, and birth daughter, Shiloh, born in Namibia. It will be interesting to watch how all of them perform on the world stage over the next few years, promoting both charity and humanism. Their children will command attention for many years, with potential artistic and political careers in store for them, and perhaps for Brad and Angelina as well.

For all of their wealth, celebrity and attention, Brad and Angie appear to have their hearts with the people of the world.
Pitt embraced Bono's One campaign, which is devoted to reducing poverty, and he is deeply involved with the Global Green evironmental project. The couple established their own charitable foundation, and have donated to Doctors Without Borders and Global Action for Children. They donated the $4 million they got for the first pictures of baby Shiloh to various charities in Africa, saying; "While we celebrate the joy of the birth of our daughter, we recognize that two million babies born every year in the developing world die on the first day of their lives. These children can be saved, but only if governments around the world make it a priority."

Josephine Baker would have loved them.

71 COMMENTS

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1.

coco puff    

My God, I hope Angelina eats something for Thanksgiving, she looks like a rail.

2860 days ago
2.

margy    

you forgot to mention that josephine barker and angelina jolie also share the same birthday- 3rd june.intersting non?

2860 days ago
3.

unoriginal    

Let's not compare JB with those two self-aborbed idiots. JB was unique, extremely talented individual. She made her mark thanks to her great talent and became the symbol of freedom of expression. She did not become politically active as a mean to counter bad publicity or to make over her image.

No, Brad and Angelina are merely movie stars with argueable skills. They are immature, spoiled, manipulative individuals who cannot breathe without letting the world know about it.

Josephine would not have approved, because she was all about artistic integrity.

2860 days ago
4.

moretocome    

And let's not forget she's hot! Glad I got here before all the JEALOUS women arrived. They stink up the Angelina posts with all their freaking whining crap about how they aren't worthy of shinning this women's shoes. And how even if they went out a got plastic surgery they couldn't be a hot as she is. Their husband want to f*ck her so it hurts their feelings. OK not all women are threaten by her beauty, but all the ones that are come here to post and whine. They make up words that make them seem really pathetic. They think they're really sticking it to her when they just end up making themselves look jealous and petty. Real women don’t need to feel superior, they all ready are.

Go girl Go, We're laughing at you!!!

2860 days ago
5.

JJ    

I'D RESPECT HER MORE IF SHE WAS CARING FOR THEM BUT IT APPEARS THAT SHE ADOPTS THEM AND HAS PICTURES TAKEN WITH THEM WHILE AN ARMY OF NANNIES DO THE REAL WORK OF LOVE & CARE...GOOD FOR HER BUT THERE ARE KIDS IN INNER CITY AMERICA AND THE RURAL HEARTLAND WHO NEED THIS TOO....SHE'S A FAKE

2860 days ago
6.

dina    

Thank you TMZ. That was by far the best post you have had on Angie and Brad since I began clicking on to your web site. Thanks for enlightening those who didn't know about Josephine Baker. She was extraordinary, and yet there were those who tried to find falult with what she was doing. But like Angelina she was a strong woman who knew who she was. There biggest difference is race, but difference is such a minor one. More positive articles, please. Thanks.

2860 days ago
7.

rad    

And Josephine was also crucified by the same people who nowadays hate B&A: great beauty and free and unconventional minds always generate the most jealous pettiness in small-minded people.

2860 days ago
8.

unoriginal    

What are you talking about. JB was the victim of racism, how is that comparable.

No one really hate B/A, people either love them out of vanity or the dislike them for being fake. Jealous of what exactly? Having money and going around countries to project an image they cannot live up to. For all their so call good looks and money, they can't seem to by some common sense.

Let me repeat, you cannot compare these two to a woman whose talent was far more powerful than racial hatred.

2860 days ago
9.

Toune    

KUDDO'S TO BRAD AND ANGELINA!! Yes there are MANY MANY MANY children in America that need a loving home, but what are the chances that an orphan from a 3rd world countries get the chance to be adopted...the people there are so poor they have to put their children up for adoption...atleast in America most of the orphans at least have some advantages that 3rd wolrd countries do not.

America has many many rich people...why don't they get off their ass to adopt, at least Angelina & Brad are doing POSITIVE with her money and fame. Don't throw it in their face!

I say Adopt Adopt Adopt as many as Brad and Angies bank account can afford and even then, don't stop...These poor children are the forgotten ones, at least they are not forgotten by Angelina.

Posted by a CONFIDENT woman!

2860 days ago
10.

Ok    

Good comparison. I think that's why I like the Jolie-pitt's. It seems like they want to help where they can and people still hate on them.

Let them be!

2860 days ago
11.

Movie Ticket Buyer    

Next they will be reporting and commenting on their farts....get real...this is way old, and not deserving of comparrison with someone such as the late, great Josephine Baker.

2860 days ago
12.

caveman    

good luck brad, thats gonna be a whole lotta child support.

2860 days ago
13.

Rae    

I don't understand why an article celebrating present and past celebrities for their humantiarian efforts illicits comments such as "They are immature, spoiled, manipulative individuals who cannot breathe without letting the world know about it."

I'm afraid I don't understand how someone could see it that way. I think a person should be able to substantiate such a statement, because I only see evidence to the contrary. What have Brad and Angelina done to make people think they are merely involved in self-promotion?

I can recall Angelina's appearance on Anderson Cooper 360 for World Refugee Day, to discuss how her first visit to a amputee camp for refugees in Sierra Leone moved her to want to devote her life to helping them (and yes of course talk about the birth of her daughter). Was that her just making sure the world knew she was breathing?

And Brad being photographed helping to rebuild communities damaged by Hurricane Katrina? I suppose he was just being selfish there too, right? Because it's not like he could have been getting paid millions to make some movie instead of rebuilding people's homes. Who cares if it also gives them good publicity, at least they're helping to do good things with their time.

Let's consider what they could otherwise be doing; being photographed going in and out of nightclubs constantly, formulating their own fragrances, creating their own record labels so they can put out albums, etc. Why would we call them selfish when they spend all of their spare time trying to help people less fortunate than them? Just because they are also rich and famous for making movies? We should all be so lucky to make a living doing something we love.

And don't even bother bringing up the "but what they did to Jen!" bull, because really, there's more important things going on in the world people.

2860 days ago
14.

Trinity    

Some people never see the good in others. There were many people who ridiculed and attacked Princess Diana's charity work. No one really ever knows what lies in another person's heart or motivates their actions. However sometimes I wonder what lies within the hearts of some blog "commenters".

2860 days ago
15.

dina    

Thank you TMZ. This is probably one of the most positive articles you have posted on Angelina and Brad. The comparison to Josephine Baker is a good one. Yes, they are both strong, sexual, independent and caring women who have been rejected by their peers, albeit for different reasons. Josehphine because of her race, and Angelina because she looked too ethnic, non-white. Josephine did fight in the French Resistance. I don't understand how something that is done to help others, especially children can be changed into something negative. People don't like to see people doing something that makes them feel uncomfortable. Therefore maybe more people should get up off of their couches and start helping people who are less fortunate instead of trying to find fault with those who are. Peace were more content with Brad standing around posing and looking vapid, instead on traveling and learning about the world and himself. Growth is wonderful. Therefore people grow up. Leave Jen behind. She is a nonfactor now. Accept it. Stop trying to find something wrong with everything these people do. You want to see bad? Look at your president.

2860 days ago
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