JOSEPHINE BAKER: The African-American Superstar who took over France

Josephine Baker (born Freda Josephine McDonald; naturalised French Joséphine Baker; 3 June 1906 – 12 April 1975) was an American-born French dancer, singer and actress. Her career was centered primarily in Europe, mostly in her adopted France. She was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 silent film Siren of the Tropics, directed by Mario Nalpas and Henri Étiévant.

French Movie 1927 – Flapper style – Josephine Baker – La sirène des tropiques – Charleston Ginger Rogers Roxie Roaring twenties j’ai deux amours, la petite Tonkinoise, Paris, Folies Bergères, Moulin Rouge, la revue nègre. Zouzou Princesse Tam Tam Jean Gabin C’est Lui Haiti

During her early career, Baker was among the most celebrated performers to headline the revues of the Folies Bergère in Paris. Her performance in the revue Un vent de folie in 1927 caused a sensation in the city. Her costume, consisting of only a short skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace, became an iconic image and a symbol both of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties.

Baker was celebrated by artists and intellectuals of the era, who variously dubbed her the “Black Venus”, the “Black Pearl”, the “Bronze Venus”, and the “Creole Goddess”. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she renounced her U.S. citizenship and became a French national after her marriage to French industrialist Jean Lion in 1937. She raised her children in France.

She aided the French Resistance during World War II. After the war, she was awarded the Resistance Medal by the French Committee of National Liberation, the Croix de Guerre by the French military, and was named a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. Baker sang: “I have two loves, my country and Paris.”

Baker refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States and is noted for her contributions to the civil rights movement. In 1968, she was offered unofficial leadership in the movement in the United States by Coretta Scott King, following Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. After thinking it over, Baker declined the offer out of concern for the welfare of her children.

On 30 November 2021, she was interred in the Panthéon in Paris, the first black woman to receive one of the highest honors in France. As her resting place remains in Monaco Cemetery, a cenotaph was installed in vault 13 of the crypt in the Panthéon.

The first black female superstar. Singing and playful chat with Norwegian TV presenter Erik Bye. Sourire à la Vie (Smile even if you don’t want to); My Fair Lady medley (sung to a dog) -On the street where you live/I could have danced all night; Duet: The Honeysuckle & the Bee. She was 64 years young when broadcast February 13 1971 on Norway TV. Eleven minutes of conversation (in English).

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