Josephine Baker

Resident at Riad Star in the 1940’s Josephine Baker was an incomparable talent and extraordinary human being. Her Iconic performances are famous, as are her accolades in politics. A complex woman of many talents, who left a profound and lasting impression of those who met her. We love to learn more about her life, her career and her passion for life and to share the details of the adventures and history of this extraordinary lady.
Born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine Baker spent her youth in poverty before learning to dance and finding success on Broadway. In the 1920s she moved to France and soon became one of Europe’s most popular and highest-paid performers. She worked for the French Resistance during World War II, and during the 1950s and ’60s devoted herself to fighting segregation and racism in the United States.

The BBC recently posted a reel about Josephine Baker, the iconic American entertainer who lived in Marrakech in the 1940s. Baker’s former home in Marrakech, Riad Star, has become a popular destination for travelers looking to experience a bit of history and luxury. The riad has been beautifully restored and decorated with a mix of […]

On 19 September, hosted Rock the Casbah, a festival fundraiser let by storyteller Gary Cordingley. Among the beautiful tales told by well known storytellers, there was another story which warmed the listeners’ hearts! The story of Riad Star and Josephine Baker, told by Lucie. We invite you to watch it below or come to […]

Doris Day Marrakech

Hollywood Great Doris Day passed away in May 2019 at the age of 97. One of her best known movies, The Man Who Knew Too Much was filmed in 1956 with Marrakech as one of the main locations. Co Starring James Stewart and Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the film included the immortal song QUE SERA […]

Hospital in Casablanca 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 […]

Tetouan-  Marrakech Riad

Ahmed Belbachir Haskouri (1908–1962) was a powerful member of the royal court of Morocco during the protectorate period. He was a prominent figure in Spanish Moroccan history. He was also a great friend of Josephine Baker. Josephine often stopped to visit him in Tetouan, a small coastal town in the North of Morocco when she […]

Riad Star (90)

Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker are both women who inspire great respect and iconic status. Individually they both flourished as artists in their fields of painting and performance. At a point in history marred by bigotry and racism they reached heights of fame. Josephine and Frida were both known to be bisexual, and when they […]

josephine-baker-gif-marrakech riad

In 1927 he lithographer Paul Colin was commissioned to create a portfolio of work representing La Revue Nègre in Paris. He created  Le Tumulte Noir, a potrtfolio of 45 coloured lithographs. The lithographs celebrated Josephine Baker and the cast of the show, showcasing the energy that the black performers generated in jazz age Paris. The […]

JOsephine Baker performs marrakech riad star

Josephine Baker strutting her stuff. The lady really could dance…………Wild moves from our favourite entertainer. This clip is from La Revue Des Revues. Paris in 1927. (Not the original sound.) Riad Star the former home of Josephine Baker in Marrakech, and now a luxurious boutique guesthouse. With suites dedicated to the star herself. Come and […]

New york times 1942 - Josephine Baker - Riad Star

There was much speculation regarding the fate of Josephine Baker, some feared and reported the worst. The New York Times ran an article on December 6 th 1942 declaring that Josephine was safe and living in Marrakech. “JOSEPHINE IS SAFE” “Negro dancer reported dead is living in Morocco. Casablanca Morocco Dec 5th Josephine Baker, the […]

Josephine Baker - Marrakech Riad Star

We love this new book by Mehdi de Graincourt. It’s a wonderfully researched and beautifully presented book in which Mehdi presents the Kingdom of Morocco through the eyes of those visitors through history who found a deep connection and passion for the country. Over several centuries, Morocco has attracted Western writers, painters,composers, singers and artists. […]

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The first time that Josephine heard a news report of her own death, she was lying on a chaise relaxing whilst enjoying the scent of the fragranced trees upon the rooftop gardens of Mohamed Menebhi’s palace. The very same complex of buildings are today Riad Star in Marrakech.  Josephine’s response, as reported by Ollie Stewart, […]

Paris seemed small to Josephine Baker  compared to New York, however she fell in love with the city instantly and set out to conquer it. Her strategy was to consider the city as a lover and little by little seduce it. She was chic and funny, a winning combination . The rich flocked to Paris […]

Ouezzanne Morocco

Emily Keene arrived in Morocco at the age of 24. She was to be governess for an American family with Greek origins by the name of Perdicaris. The Perdicaris family gave lavish parties in their home in Tangier, and it was at one of these parties that Emily met the Cherif of Ouezzanne, hajj Abdeslam […]

The palace of the Glaoui Marrakech

Josephine Baker stayed in Casablanca for medical treatment following a prolonged illness. During her time in hospital in Casablanca she was visited regularly by the Pacha of Marrakech; Thami El Glaoui. Their close relationship was well known, and it was also rumoured that she had miscarried his child, leading to her illness and spell in hospital. […]


Claude Hopkins was a jazz pianist who led one of the most popular big bands to come out of Harlem. He went to Europe as musical director for the singer Josephine Baker, leading a band that included Sidney Bechet, the saxophonist and clarinetist. He led the orchestra on the opening night of the Revue Negre in Paris. […]

Josephine Baker Danse Sauvage

Flexibility is a greatly valued quality in African dance, and was in great contrast to the style of European dancing in the 1920’s. In African culture flexibility is a sign of youth and vigour, these aspects of Josephine’s performances were deemed exotic and intoxicating by the audiences who saw her. Josephine was almost double jointed, […]

Josephine Baker in 1926 .

“The grinning, wide eyed woman exploded into energy just barely contained by skin and a human form. Every part of her seemed to go in a different direction, flung from some central volcano of spirit. She made faces and flailed about. She shook her rear end, then drew it in and strutted in place. The […]

Josephine Baker arrives in France

On September 15th 1925 two dozen black musicians, singers and dancers sailed for France on the SS Berengaria. The ship arrived in France 7 days later. This was the start of Josephine Baker’s epic career. Rehearsals for the first shows began immediately, and it was clear from the first days that Josephine Baker would soon […]


Josephine Baker was a vocal supporter of racial equality. There were many times during her life when she stood up for tolerance and against racism. Josephine was an extraordinary woman, and some of her life choices and ambitions were extraordinary too. Josephine was unable to have children of her own, so she undertook an unprecedented […]


In November 1951 Josephine Baker graced the cover of Jet Magazine. She is given the accolade of the World’s best dressed woman, with claims of a value of $250,000 for her wardrobe. Whether or not this claim regarding the astronomical value of her clothes is accurate, we do know that Josephine loved to dress up. […]


Josephine Baker, one time resident of Riad Star in Marrakech is of course celebrated worldwide as an iconic Singer, dancer and actress. Her glittering career as an entertainer spanned five decades. A lesser known fact about this Jazz age icon is the amazing and brave role she played as a spy for the French resistance […]

Josephine Baker Hair product Bakerfix

In the early 1920’s A new chapter of freedom and style emerged for women, corsets were shunned and loose long line dresses were the height of style embracing colours and even bright, neon ensembles. The flapper image is synonymous with the 1920s for most people. A flapper, with  short skirts, short hair, dark make-up, and […]


Josephine Baker was adored by the fashionable set in Paris. Josephine was a natural and excellent dancer and at a very early age, she found notoriety and success in the Parisian music halls of the day. At just fourteen years of age she landed her first part in a play at the Booker Washington Theatre […]

Josephine Baker by Alexander calder

Alexander Calder was an artist who created dynamic sculptures using wire. He gained recognition and acclaim for his wire sculptures in Paris in the late 1920s. He once remarked that he ” Thought best in wire”. Dancing on stage wearing a banana skirt, Josephine Baker enthralled the Paris of the 1920s and ’30s.  Alexander Calder was enthralled with […]

Josephine baker tour de france1933

Never let it be said that Josephine Baker did not lead a varied life! On 27 June 1933, she started the cyclists on their way to a very eventful Tour de France. The French team, that had won the last three Tours de France, started well. Maurice Archambaud won the first stage, and lead the general […]


On November 28th 1973 Josephine Baker sang at a very special event. A fashion show was organised to raise funds to restore King Louis XIV’s palace of  Versaille in France. Created by Eleanor Lambert and Versailles curator Gerald Van der Kemp, the show pitted French designers (Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Dior, […]


When it comes to the age of Jazz in Europe, and the connections to the Belle Epoque in Marrakech one name is iconic : Josephine Baker. Imagine a trip to Morocco which immerses you in the world of Josephine and a festival of Jazz music! Flying to Marrakech you can book your stay Riad Star, […]