Torch singer Belle Baker’s resonant voice made her the first choice of many composers to debut their songs, introducing 163 songs to the public over the course of her career on stage and in recordings. Baker started working in a factory to support her family at age nine, but by fourteen she was earning three dollars a week at the People’s Music Hall, where she was discovered by Jacob P. Adler, who hired her to play a boy in The Homeless and sing between acts. She sang in nightclubs and the Yiddish theater, sharing a program with Sarah Bernhardt at age twenty and performing in several Ziegfeld Follies. In 1935, she toured England, singing in music halls and dancing with the Prince of Wales. She introduced Irving Berlin’s “International Rag” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” to audiences, and when she debuted his “Blue Skies” in 1926, the audience demanded more than twenty encores of the song. She belonged to a number of charitable organizations and served on the council of the American Federation of Actors and the Jewish Theatrical Guild of America. Her last public appearance was on This Is Your Life in 1955.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Belle Baker." (Viewed on December 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/people/baker-belle>.