"World renowned performer, World War II spy, and activist are few of the titles used to describe Josephine Baker. One of the most successful African American performers in French history, Baker’s career illustrates the ways entertainers can use their platforms to change the world."

 

-Arlisha R. Norwood

Photo: Moviestore/Shutterstock

“She is like Salome. She has seven veils. If you lift one, there is a second, and what you discover is even more mysterious, and you go to the third, and you still don’t know where you are. Only at the end, if you keep looking faithfully, will you find the true Josephine.”

 

— choreographer George Balanchine in the book Josephine Baker, The Hungry Heart by Jean-Claude Baker

"Her career thrived in the integrated Paris society; when La Revue Nègre closed, Josephine starred in La Folie du Jour at the Follies-Bergère Theater. Her jaw-dropping performance, including a costume of 16 bananas strung into a skirt, cemented her celebrity status. Josephine rivaled Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford as the most photographed woman in the world, and by 1927, she earned more than any entertainer in Europe. She starred in two movies in the early 1930s, Zou-Zou and Princesse Tam-Tam, and moved her family from St. Louis to Les Milandes, her estate in Castelnaud-Fayrac, France."

Read Josephine's full biography here.

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Photo from CMG Worldwide

VIDEOS

Josephine Baker dancing the original Charleston (1925)

Josephine Baker Medley: Voila Paris 1955

Josephine Baker Portrait (1999)

Josephine Baker in "Zou-Zou"