Josephine Baker falls ill in Morocco 1941

In June 1941 Josephine Baker was at her home in Marrakech when she was struck with crippling abdominal pain. French captain Jacques Abtey borrowed a station wagon so that Josephine could lay down for the long ( 350 mile ) journey on uneven roads to the hospital in Casablanca. The date was June 1941, and Josephine would remain in hospital until December 1942.

Josephine was taken to the private clinic of Dr Henri Comte where she was operated on to drain an abscess in her abdomen.

Captain Abtey stayed with Josephine on a cot in her room, his care and devotion to her were endless.

Josephine remained in hospital where she was visited endlessly by American Diplomats, and Moroccan leaders, it is clear that much intelligence changed hands during this bleak time, but along side this scenario Josephine was operated on many times. She joked with the doctors that they should put a zipper into her skin!

In  1942 the artist Jean  Domergue visited Jospehine in hospital , and was shocked to see she had lost so much weight.

Nineteen months after arriving in Casablanca, Josephine was discharged from the clinic. Mohamed Menebhi gave her quarters in his palace where she could be well cared for.

The part of Marrakech which was formerly the palace where Josephine stayed is now transformed into a stunning riad guesthouse which is called Riad Star in recognition of the famous star who once resided there. Riad Star has been refurbished as a fitting celebration of the Iconic lady who once loved the exotic red city of Marrakech.

Join us in Josephine’s Marrakech residence to explore the luxurious surroundings and to celebrate the life of a great woman.