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A Kinder, Simpler Time Dept.: Your Movie Columnist

January 26, 2010 | 12:00 pm


Jan. 26, 1964, Hedda Hopper 

Jan. 26, 1964: Hedda Hopper’s profile of Evadne Baker was far more interesting than I expected. A quick check of imdb reveals that she died Jan. 17, 1995 … but wait. She was born Nov. 27, 1897? That would have made her 66 years old when this article appeared.

I think not.

To be sure, the Social Security Death Index lists an Evadne A. Baker (1897 –1995) but it’s evidently someone else.  A trip to Factiva reveals some interesting information.

Notice that in Hopper’s interview, Baker says she was born in Cape Town, South Africa. According to a Dec, 29, 1996, Agence France-Presse article, Evadne [“Bonnie”  or “Bonny”]  Baker, then 14,  was seduced by author Sir Laurens van der Post during a three-week sea voyage from South Africa to England, where she was to study with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, probably about 1952-53

Van der Post, a family friend, was entrusted to be Baker’s guardian because he was engaged to her sister Fleur, according to the AFP article, which is based on an account from the Johannesburg Sunday Times.

The article says that Baker became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter, Cari Mostert, who
was raised by her grandmother Jessie Kohler-Baker. The family explained that Mostert’s mother was her older sister, according to other news reports. 

Nov. 27, 1965, Laurens van der Post The AFP story says the grandmother took the baby girl to London and confronted Van der Post, who agreed to support the girl until she turned 18. The girl was told the truth when she was 10 and evidently she came to live with her mother in Los Angeles.

When Mostert was 12, Baker introduced her to Van der Post, who burst into tears, the article says. (According to a 2002 New York Times article, Van der Post was in Los Angeles for a speaking engagement. At right, a Times article from Nov. 27, 1965, about his appearance at Monrovia High School).

In 1989,  when the author visited South Africa, Mostert took her family to the airport to meet him, but he rebuffed them, the AFP report says. The story says: “When she asked him to at least take a look at his grandchildren, he replied: ‘Very wonderful children, my dear, but I don't see what this has to do with me ... This is a money-making business.’ ”

After Van der Post died in 1996, Mostert sued his estate. According to the 2002 New York Times article on Van der Post, Baker was then living outside New York City under a different name.  After an account of the relationship was published in Van der Post’s authorized biography, Mostert developed ties with Van der Post’s family, according to a 2001 article in The Times of London by his biographer, J.D.F. Jones.

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