Posted on 07/31/2014

Photo taken on March 22, 1927

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Ruth Bayton
African American
Was in original production of Blackbirds
Photographed in Berlin

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Photo replaced on July 31, 2014
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Ruth Bayton

Ruth Bayton
According to European press, she was the 'prettier' alternative to Josephine Baker. Ruth Bayton (1907 - ? ), was an entertainer who first went to Europe as a chorus girl with Florence Mills in the hit play, Blackbirds. In 1927, she also appeared as an opening act for comedic actor Valeriano Ruiz Paris, dancing the "Black-Bottom Stomp" and the "Charleston" at the Teatro Comico in Barcelona, Spain. A painting of her still exists on the walls of the Paris Odeon.

Throughout her career Ms. Bayton attempted to stomp on Josephine Baker's coattails. Following Baker she also performed on stage wearing nothing but a girdle of bananas and a smile. [Afro American newspaper (March 3, 1928 edition]: Miss Ruth Bayton, most recent arrival from Harlem, is to take the place of Josephine Baker in the New Revue that is soon to appear at the Folies-Bergere, and has a year's contract with them in her bag. Miss Bayton has had much success in Madrid, Vienna, and Berlin in which latter place she played for eighteen months. Josephine Baker is now in Vienna but her picture (Baker's first film, Siren of the Tropics), at the Aubert Palace is still drawing large audiences.

One critic said of her: Ruth Bayton, American dancer, whose reported romance with a Spanish monarch (King Alphonso of Spain), has caused society here and abroad to gasp, will cause a "tragedy" in France, according to David Sturgis, white critic, writing of her from paris. Sturgis says in the current issue of Variety: "I can't write anymore tonight. I have just seen Ruth Bayton dance. She is the colored artist at the Folies Wagram. She was once a stenographer in Virginia. Won a beauty prize offered by a New York newspaper. She is appearing this summer at a French channel resort. "I predict a tragedy on the coast. The nymphs, mad with jealousy, will strangle this creole goddess." [As reported in the Afro American newspaper on June 16, 1928]

As reported in the The Afro American newspaper (May 29, 1937) edition: Ruth Bayton, playgirl of two continents, who created a sensation several years ago when she was reported to be a close friend of the then King Alphonso of Spain, is believed to be missing in the war torn country, according to relatives in New York. Miss Bayton has not been heard from since the outbreak of the conflict, and all efforts of her sister, Mrs. Julia Bayton Banks of 75 St. Nicholas Place to locate her have been futile.

Miss Bayton, who first went to Europe in 1928 with Florence Mills in "Blackbirds," proceeded to Spain after the close of that production.

Following her alleged sensational affairs at the Spanish Court she returned to America in 1932 and opened an exclusive dress shop for the Sugar Hill elite.

Abandoning this enterprise, she returned to the night club world and again struck it rich when she foiled a holdup in a ritzy Broadway cabaret and was rewarded handsomely.

With this money she returned to Spain and has not been heard from since. She was sought when her uncle, Dr. George Bayton, Philadelphia physician, died recently.

Although Miss Bayton was always accepted as a New Yorker she was actually born in Tappahannock, Virginia where her father, the late Hansford Bayton, (1863 - 1927), was a well known river boat captain who operated an excursion steamer in the Tidewater section.

Her family members are buried in the Bayton Family Cemetery in Essex County, Virginia.