Between JosÃ © phine Baker (1906-1975) and Saint-Florentin, the story lasted for a few years at the end of the 1930s. It was brief, but this fame incandescent Franco-American has left no one indifferent. “I wanted to make a little stopover in my house in Yonne in Saint-Florentin, she said to a journalist from Le Petit Parisien in August 1938. And yes, we had to rest my little animals. “
The artist, who has led drastically his life between the United States and France, will be buried at the PanthÃ © on in Paris, during a celebration. meeting that will take place this afternoon. His cÃ © notaph in fact. A coffin containing soil from four places attached to her memory: Saint-Louis in Missouri where she was born, Paris, the Château des Milandes in the Dordogne department where she lives cut and Monaco finally where she is buried. Why not add a handful of Florentine soil?
A land on which the diva has moreover given a performance. It was on the occasion of a charity gala organized inside the old Palace Cinema on February 19th February 1939, for the benefit of Spanish refugees fleeing triumphant Francoism. “All seats were rented, Le Bourguignon notes from February 23. No more a folding seat, more a chair were free. Some spectators were standing and the hall was overcrowded.”
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She was the highlight of the show. “Very graceful in her long veils, she will hold her audience under the spell for almost an hour and a half, relates the journalist. The audience will not stop applauding her. Her role is to cheer her up. The repertory is inexhaustible, sometimes very serious, sometimes laughing, she keeps repeating: “Here we are as a family, let’s have fun”. She returned to Paris the day after this service before a trip to South America. TO?? on her return to France, she made a new stay in Saint-Florentin.
The diva visited the DaullÃ © house, rue de la Maladrerie. Her husband, Jean Lion, was the brother of the wife of Charles Daullé who had founded the Dolis factory.
Apart from this spectacle, the traces of this whirlwind of life in Saint-Florentin are thin today. For having set up its exhibition on the artist thanks to pantheonization, the Serein-et-Armance tourist office admits to having broken its teeth a little there. However, it has offered guided tours in its footsteps at regular intervals for several years.
The multi-talented artist frequented the region when she was married to Jean Lion, four years her junior, between 1937 and 1941. This man from? ??? business had built up his fortune in industrial sugar trading. He was related to the Daullé family, his sister having married Charles, founder of the Dolis candy company. “JosÃ © phine Baker and her husband came to Saint-Florentin to rest,” explains Élodie Gruet, host of the tourist office. It is at the instigation of this family, it seems, that she came to sing for the Spanish refugees.
After his divorce from Jean lion in 1941, the artist maintained contact with his ex-in-laws as well as with certain Florentines. It was not uncommon for her to call at the Dolis factory.
The DaullÃ © residence, located in the rue de Maladrerie, was the setting for the young couple’s Florentine holidays, especially in February and August 1939. With the Palace cinema on the Dilo square, ca ???? is one of the two places associated with the memory of the Franco-American diva. “A fairly widespread rumor makes her stay in a beautiful house in the rue du Faubourg Dilo, adds the host. This was not the case to our knowledge.”
There are no more direct on-site witnesses of the passage of JosÃ © phine Baker. The most recent, Marie-Louise Quet, passed away a few years ago. She had told her memories to Lâ ???? Yonne Republican in 2016. Her parents lived in the rue de la Maladrerie, near the DaullÃ ©. She was next to him when she was barely ten years old, but still remembered “the monkey of the singer, who was called Glouglou, or the dog Isar, noted the daily. She sees a box of bananas that the monkey was eating. “
Some indirect witnesses remain here and there. “My mother, who worked at the candy factory, had her on the phone a few times early in the 1950s,” says a Jovinienne. Archives are also lacking. “We contacted the Dolis factory which found nothing,” she says. There are press clippings, his visits to Saint-Florentin did not go unnoticed by journalists. Those relating to the charity gala. Or for that visit to the school canteen the day before for a distribution of cakes to the children.
After the war, we do not find any trace of Josephine Baker’s passage in Saint-Florentin. Which doesn’t mean that the artist never came back. “A resident says she recognized her automobile at the end of the Fifties without giving any further details”, reports Lodie Gruet. Perhaps in 1957, on the occasion of the funeral of Jean Lion. “It is not impossible, because we know that she had kept good relations with the Daullés, she considers. Only, we did not find any article. on these funerals. ” He likes to think of the diva coming to greet the Florentines one last time.