Mom was also a Grace Kelly fan and told me why. When Josephine Baker was refused service at New York City's famed The Stork Club, a prestigious nightclub that did not welcome black customers, Baker expressed her displeasure with the segregation. Grace Kelly was at another table, witnessed what was happening and went over to support the famous Josephine Baker. The two women left the restaurant together and remained close friends until Baker's death. Baker even challenged powerful Walter Winchell when he turned a blind eye to the nightclub's segregation. Some white men didn't have the guts to challenge Winchell. But Baker did.
The international star refused to perform for segregated audiences.
Through the early 1970s, she continued to perform. Her voice had deepened and mellowed beautifully. She retained her glamour and never veered into self-parody. Her social activism continued. She thought she'd lost her audience, but her special retrospective revue in Paris in 1975 celebrating her 50 years in show business proved otherwise. It was a sold-out hit financed by two special women -- Grace Kelly, now Princess Grace of Monaco, and Jackie Onassis. The reviews for Josephine Baker were sensational. She'd survived bumpy financial times. Overall, she was a success as an entertainer, as a mother and as a decorated citizen to took part in social issues in France and America. In her late 60s, she died peacefully in bed four days after her triumphant opening night. She was surrounded by newspapers that all had glowing reviews of her performance. What a way to go. Decorated by France for her work helping the Resistance during WWII, she was given full French military honors at her funeral."My people have a country of their own to go to if they choose to...Africa...but, this America belongs to them just as much as it does to any of the white race...in some ways even more so, because they gave the sweat of their brow and their blood in slavery so that many parts of America could become prosperous and recognized in the world."