Who Are Josephine Baker’s Children and Where Are They Today? (2024)

Josephine Baker has twelve children. They are Akio, Jean-Claude, Janot, Marianne, Mara, Noël, Koffi, Luis, Jari, Moïse, Brian, and Stellina. All of the late dancer’s children were adopted from different parts of the world. Baker’s decision to adopt was influenced by her desire to prove that people from different ethnic groups could co-exist in harmony.

Joséphine Baker (born Freda Josephine McDonald, June 3, 1906 – April 12, 1975) was an American-born French singer, actress, and dancer. She is also notable for her contribution to the Civil Rights movement of the Dr. Martin Luther King era.

As previously stated, her decision to adopt kids from various parts of the world was influenced by that movement, and that choice invariably put the spotlight on those kids. That was years ago, and one can’t help but wonder what became of Joséphine Baker’s twelve children. Read on to find out.

Joséphine Baker’s Only Biological Child was Stillborn

According to Joséphine Baker’s fourth husband, Jo Bouillon, the singer had the distinct privilege of actually having her only biological child in 1941. Unfortunately, the child in question came out stillborn, and the incident led to an emergency hysterectomy that put paid to any hopes of Baker ever having a child of her own.

As indicated earlier, Joséphine Baker was married four times in her lifetime and had several other sexual partners, one of whom was Robert Brady, whom she was involved with for a couple of years from 1973 to 1975. The first of those four marriages, to a porter who worked with American Pullman named Willie Wells, was contracted in 1919 when the actress was only thirteen years old.

According to several reliable sources, the unhappy union failed and ended the same year it began, in a divorce. A couple of years later, in 1921, the singer hitched her marriage wagon to William Howard Baker. The marriage ended in divorce in 1925 after just four years, but Joséphine chose to retain the Baker surname because of her career.

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After a series of other nonmarital sexual relationships, Baker married her third husband, Frenchman Jean Lion, in 1937. However, the union lasted just three years before ending in 1940. Seven years later, she exchanged marital vows with Jo Bouillon, a French composer and the last man Joséphine ever called husband.

It is fitting that their marriage lasted longer than all her three previous marriages combined before ending in 1961, fourteen years after it began. Her quest to adopt children began in the early 1950s during her marriage to Bouillon and at the beginning of her involvement in the American Civil Rights Movement.

Her model of adoption encapsulated all her beliefs about acceptance and harmony, a fact exemplified by her decision to adopt her first child, a son named Akio, from Japan. Over the next decade or so, the singer adopted eleven more children, and they became her famous “Rainbow Tribe”.

What has become of Akio, Jean-Claude, Janot, Marianne, Mara, Noël, Koffi, Luis, Jari, Moïse, Brian, and Stellina, the 12 kids who formed Joséphine Baker’s Rainbow Tribe?

Akio Bouillon-Baker was the First Child Josephine Baker Adopted

  • Date of birth: July 1952
  • Age: 71 years old

Akio Bouillon-Baker was born in Japan in July 1952. While the exact date of his birth remains unknown, there is no doubt that the celebrity child is currently 71 years old. Akio is Japanese by birth, but the circ*mstances surrounding his adoption by American-born French singer and actress Joséphine Baker means that he also became American and French following the finalization of the adoption process.

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To clarify, Akio Bouillon is the first of the twelve children adopted by the singer, and not much is known about his birth parents, who sources have confirmed abandoned him at birth. He was adopted by Baker in 1954 when he was just two years old. The singer’s tour had taken her to Asia, and while she was in Japan, she ended up adopting Akio and one other boy from an orphanage in the Asian country.

Akio, and the rest of his siblings, did not have an easy upbringing because of Baker’s insistence on providing a fairy tale environment built around the philosophy that people of different ethnic groups can coexist in the same space. That alienated Akio from his adoptive mother, and he was reportedly unable to speak until he was four years old. He, however, always seemed to defend her during his interviews.

It is also on record that Akio was the only one of the singer’s children who did not attend her funeral after she passed on in 1975. As of 2009, Akio lived in an apartment on the outskirts of Paris and earned his living as a banker. He apparently never married nor had any children but was reported to have been in a relationship with an unidentified alcoholic for fifteen years until she eventually left him.

Janot Bouillon-Baker was Also Adopted From Asia

Like his adopted brother Akio, Janot Bouillon is the other boy Joséphine Baker returned with as her son from her tour of the continent of Asia in 1954. While he was adopted in Japan, Janot was born in Korea.

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His birth name was Teruya, but going by what became a trend for children in the Rainbow Tribe, his name was changed to Janot upon adoption, most likely to suit Baker’s vision of what she wanted to accomplish with the adoption.

Janot’s date of birth is unknown, but according to several sources, he is younger than Akio, who was two years old when they were both adopted, leaving us to assume that he is most likely in his late 60s. Like his siblings, he was raised under one roof at their late mother’s famous Chateau des Milandes in France.

His formal education was facilitated by private tutors but we have no way of knowing about his whereabouts because he seems to have decided to live a more private life, a far cry from what he was used to while growing up where he was more or less put on display to validate Baker’s ethnic harmony experiment.

Jarry Bouillon-Baker was Also Adopted in 1954

  • Date of birth: 1954
  • Age: 70 years old

Jarry Bouillon-Baker was born in Finland in 1954 and is currently 70 years old. He is Joséphine Baker’s third adopted son and the third of the four children she adopted in 1954 after reportedly paying his birth parents a few thousand dollars to seal the deal. Jarry’s birth name was Jari, but he changed his name after the singer adopted him.

Nothing was known of his birth family until a Finnish journalist tracked down his mother and four siblings and reunited them in 1995. He maintains a close relationship with them to date. Like all his siblings, Jarry had a childhood that appeared picturesque on the surface but was fraught with several challenges below that well-orchestrated surface.

The former restaurant worker especially had it tough because of his sexual orientation as a gay man. It was something he knew about himself since was around seven or eight years old. However, it was a lifestyle choice that ended up alienating him from his mother, who caught him in a bathtub with another boy when he was around fifteen years old.

She had reprimanded Jarry in front of his siblings before sending him to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to live with his adoptive father. Jarry later moved to New York City, where he was taken in by Jean Claude Baker, a restaurateur and one of Joséphine’s former companions, whom she often referred to as her 13th child.

Jarry worked in the restaurant for several years, but not much is known about him since then. He once spoke about his desire to travel to places like Australia and New Zealand to set up a farm. Later he spoke about returning to Argentina or to Finland, where he was quite comfortable because his birth mother and siblings lived there. It remains to be seen whether he followed through on any of the aforementioned desires.

Luis Bouillon-Baker is the Last Child Joséphine Baker Adopted in 1954

Luis Bouillon-Baker is one of the lesser-known children of Joséphine Baker, hence there is next to no information about his background, including his date of birth and current age. However, several sources have confirmed the fact that he was the last child the entertainer adopted in 1954.

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He is also the first child the singer adopted from the continent of South America. Luis was born in Colombia, but the details of what his life looked like before he was adopted by Joséphine, such as who his birth family members were, have yet to become public knowledge.

Despite his mother’s desire for Luis and his siblings to pursue specific career paths like diplomacy and hotel business, Luis lives a relatively simple life, away from the constant scrutiny of the press and the general public like he was exposed to in childhood.

Jean Claude Bouillon-Baker was Adopted From The French Welfare System

Jean Claude Bouillon-Baker became the fifth child adopted into Joséphine Baker’s Rainbow Tribe in 1955. This Jean Claude is not to be confused with another French man of the same name who was the singer’s companion, whom she unofficially referred to as her 13th child, and who also took her last name of Baker.

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Jean Claude was the first child Joséphine Baker adopted from the French Welfare system. His date of birth is unknown, as well as the identity of his birth parents. The information on his current whereabouts is similarly not available to the media or the general public, further making it a challenge to ascertain what he does for a living or his marital status at present.

Brian Bouillon-Baker was the First of the Children Joséphine Adopted From Algeria

In 1956, Joséphine Baker’s travels took her to the North African country of Algeria. By the time she eventually returned home, she returned with two more adopted children. One of those children was a son named Brahim, who she later renamed Brian.

Brian was born to Algerian parents of Berber descent, but the identity of those parents or any other members of his birth family has been withheld from the media and the public. It is significant to point out that at the time the singer adopted Brian, Algeria, the nation of his birth, was embroiled in a bitter civil war that ended up claiming tons of lives.

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Brian’s identity is mainly tied to his existence as one of the children who formed Joséphine Baker’s Rainbow Tribe, a fact that has essentially put all other aspects of his existence, including what he does for a living, his current whereabouts, or his relationship status, in the shadows.

Marianne Bouillon-Baker is One of the Two Daughters Joséphine Baker Adopted

Marianne Bouillon-Baker is Joséphine Baker’s first daughter. She is the oldest of only two girls the entertainer adopted. She is also the second child Baker adopted during her trip to then-war-torn Algeria.

Marianne is the biological child of a French couple whose identity has hitherto remained undisclosed. At this point, it becomes quite important to unveil the fact that Joséphine Baker was initially insistent on adopting only boys because she feared that introducing females into the equation would lead the kids to form romantic attachments and disrupt her social experiment.

There must have been something about Marianne that convinced the late thespian otherwise. Marianne slept in the basem*nt of the infamous Chateau des Milandes in France with the rest of her siblings at night and put on a show for her adoptive mother’s guests with those same siblings by day.

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It felt like her life, and that of her siblings, were constantly put on display, and that might explain why she has chosen to keep details of her personal life away from the media and the general public. It has also been revealed that Joséphine tried to choose her children’s career paths for them but failed in her attempts because of their reluctance to conform to what they felt was an attempt to further control their existence.

It explains why most of them, Marianne included, chose to earn a living doing things that would not necessarily expose them to the spotlight. One would imagine that they’d had enough of being put on display as kids.

Moïse Bouillon-Baker was Given a Jewish Backstory

Despite her husband’s objections to adopting more kids, Joséphine Baker got into her head at one point to adopt a Jewish child. However, she did not want just any Jewish baby but one from the nation of Israel, prompting her to travel to the European nation to actualize her dream.

Unfortunately, the Israeli welfare minister at the time opposed the actress’ wish to adopt a child of Israeli origin, further adding that Israel was trying to bring in children at the time, not let them out. Joséphine returned home disappointed but remained resolved in her determination to get her Jewish baby.

Once again, she turned to the French Welfare system, and in 1957, she adopted a son whom she named Moïse (French for Moses). In keeping with her desire to control the narrative, Joséphine told the press that the boy was from Israel.

Not much is known about Moïse, including when he was born and his age. We can confirm, though, that he was a French orphan whose parents’ demise had resulted in his being placed in the French welfare system. He grew up, like his siblings, in Les Milandes until he came of age and had to leave the nest like most of the others.

The details of Moïse’s life, after he left the imposing shadow cast by living as one of the Rainbow Tribe under the guidance of Joséphine Baker, have been overshadowed by the fact that he died in 1999 after a reportedly long, drawn-out battle with cancer. It remains to be seen whether he left any family of his own behind, but all signs point to the fact that he did not.

Koffi Bouillon-Baker was Adopted in 1958

Koffi Bouillon-Baker was adopted in 1958. He is the ninth adopted child of the late American-born French singer, actress, and dancer Joséphine Baker. Koffi was born in the West African country of Ivory Coast (Côte D’Ivoire) and became the latest member of Joséphine Baker’s Rainbow Tribe following her return from her West African tour in 1958.

The identity of Koffi’s birth parents, most likely Ivorians, has yet to be revealed to the public and media. There is also very little information about the man himself, including his date of birth, how old he is now, details of his formal educational background, what he does for a living and how successful he is at it, and whether he is among the late singer’s children who decided not to get married seeing that there is no indication that he ever did.

Mara Bouillon-Baker is Joséphine Baker’s Second Child From South America

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In 1959, one year after her West Africa tour, which led to the adoption of the Ivorian Koffi, Joséphine Baker delved into South American society again to adopt her tenth kid. The kid in question was a boy named Mara. Mara was born in Venezuela, but his date of birth is unknown at the moment. That lack of information also indicates that we have yet to ascertain his age at the moment.

Mara, like most of the kids in the Rainbow Tribe, has no idea who his birth parents are. For all we know, Joséphine had access to that information but chose to withhold it not just from Mara but from the media and the general public as well, all in a bid to preserve her social experiment, which saw kids from different parts of the world living together in harmony.

Mara grew up in Les Milandes like the rest of his adoptive siblings. Similar to most of them, too, he chose to live in relative obscurity after leaving the home he shared with the late actress and the rest of the Rainbow Tribe kids. It’s unknown what he did for a living, where he is at present, and whether he ever got married and had children of his own.

Noël Bouillon-Baker was Abandoned in a Crib at Christmas Time

Noël Bouillon-Baker was born in France, but there is next to no information about how he came into existence, leaving us to speculate on pertinent aspects of that existence, such as when he was born, how old he is now, and who the members of his birth family are.

It’s important to unveil the fact that Joséphine named the then-little French baby after the Parisian street where he was found abandoned. Nonetheless, he was adopted by the late singer in 1960 and invariably became the second to the last baby she adopted to her Rainbow Tribe.

At this point, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind about what Noël’s childhood was like, as one would only take a look at the early years of the siblings he grew up with to form a reasonable thought on the matter. His later years are another matter because of the lack of information available about his personal or professional life.

We can confirm, though, that Noël was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and several sources, from 2009 at least, confirm that he was confined to an as-yet-unidentified psychiatric hospital. It remains to be seen whether he is still there.

Stellina Bouillon-Baker is the Youngest of Joséphine Baker’s Children

Stellina Bouillon-Baker was reportedly born in the North African country of Morocco. Several sources confirm that she was born to a French couple and that her birth mother was a close friend of her adoptive mother Joséphine Baker.

Nevertheless, beyond the fact that they abandoned Stellina at birth, there is no piece of information available to disclose the identity of the celebrity child’s birth parents. As indicated earlier, Stellina Bouillon-Baker is the youngest of the dozen children Joséphine Baker adopted to form her Rainbow Tribe, but details of her existence, such as her date of birth and age, have yet to become public knowledge.

Stellina was adopted by Joséphine in 1964, around eleven years before the singer died in 1975. Certain outlets suggest that private tutors provided her with formal education and that she was the only one still living with the actress at the time of her death.

Details of her professional and personal life remain unverified because she keeps a relatively low profile.

Joséphine Baker’s experiment, which involved adopting children from various parts of the globe, may not have been a smashing success, but it set the tone for similar practices by various celebrities today, including people like Angelina Jolie and Madonna.

Who Are Josephine Baker’s Children and Where Are They Today? (2024)


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