Most of us know of Lucky Baldwin, but have you heard of his daughter Anita?
Anita Baldwin, the only daughter born to Arcadia's founding father Elias J. Baldwin and his third wife Jane Virginia Dexter, possessed many talents and wore many different hats. As a composer, she wrote more than 50 published songs including music for Richard Walton Tully's "Blossom Bride" and "Omar the Tentmaker." She was composing "world music" long before Paul Simon popularized it. During her travels to China, Japan, India, and Spain, she would study the local music and then write songs maintaining the native motifs of those lands, though she would never sell these compositions. As a philanthropist, she founded the Anita M. Baldwin Hospital for Babies in 1919. It is currently known as the Pediatric and Family Medical Center at the corner of Olive and Venice Boulevards in Los Angeles. She was well known for her kindness to animals, having presided over the Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Lastly, as a patriot she wore an actual hat, that of honorary colonel of the 160th Infantry, 7th Regiment of the California National Guard. She truly was a Renaissance woman. Did I mention she was also a horsewoman, mother, seamstress, poet, and an excellent cook? Anita Baldwin died on October 25, 1939 at the age of 65.
Photograph courtesy of the Arcadia History Collection, Arcadia Public Library.
In this photograph, Anita Baldwin is seated on a camel in front of the Great Sphinx and a pyramid in Giza near Cairo, Egypt, circa 1920-1926. She is wearing a very elegant black dress, hat and veil. Her business manager Ray Knisley accompanied her on the other camel. Three local camel handlers dressed in native garb assisted them. The Great Sphinx was built by Egyptians about 4.500 years ago. Later sand removal would reveal that Anita Baldwin was sitting above the extended paws of the Great Sphinx.
There are many interesting items currently on display at the Arcadia History Museum that were once the property of Anita Baldwin. You should stop by and visit!