Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

American-born French dancer, singer and actress (1906–1975)
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Josephine Baker
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Josephine Baker Dancer - Born 3 Jun 1906 East St. Louis, Illinois, USA

Died 12 Apr 1975 Paris, France

Birthname Freda Josephine McDonald

Nicknames Black Venus, Tumpie, Black Pearl, Creole Goddess

Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1) Josephine Baker was born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, MO, in 1906 to Carrie McDonald, a laundress, and Eddie Carson, a musician. Her early life hinted at her future career. She first danced for the public on the streets of St. Louis for nickels and dimes. Later she became a chorus girl on the St. Louis stage. At age 15 she married Pullman porter William Howard Baker, but left him when she ran away from St. Louis at age 17, feeling there was too much racial discrimination in the city. She eventually made her way to Paris, France. Her first job in Paris was in "La revue negre". Her next significant job was at the Folies Bergere, where she was a member of the club's all-black revue. It was there, in 1925, that she first performed her famous "banana dance". She quickly became a favorite of the French, and her fame grew, but she had many ups and downs during her career. Although popular in France, during the "Red Scare" era of the 1950s, she was falsely accused of being a Communist and informed that she was no longer welcome in the US (in 1937 she had renounced her American citizenship, utterly disgusted by the blatant and official racism against blacks, and became a French citizen).

In 1961 Josephine was awarded the Legion of Honor, France's highest award. In the late 1960s she began having financial difficulties, and stopped performing in 1968. Grace Kelly, who by that time had married Prince Rainier of Monaco and was now known as Princess Grace of Monaco, offered her a home in Monaco when she learned of Josephine's financial problems. At the request of Princess Grace, Josephine performed at Monaco's summer ball in 1974 and was a great success. That same year she staged a week of performances in New York City and called the show "An Evening with Josephine Baker". She had just begun a Paris revue celebrating her half-century on the stage when on April 10, 1975, she was stricken with a cerebral hemorrhage and went into a coma. She died without regaining consciousness. Her funeral was held in Paris, and she was buried in Monaco.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: A. Nonymous

Spouse (4)

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Jo Bouillon (3 June 1947 - 1961) divorced 12 children all Adopted Known as the Rainbow Children Aiko (Korea), Luis (Colombia), Janot (Japan), Jari (Finland), Jean-Claude (Canada), Moses (French), Marianne (France), Noel (France), Brahim (Arab), Mara (Venezuela), Koffi (the Ivory-Coast), Stellina (Morocco)

Jean Lion (30 November 1937 - 2 April 1941) divorced

Giuseppe Abatino (3 June 1927 - ?) divorced

William Baker (1921 - 1925) divorced

Trade Mark (2) 1. Banana dress 2. Seductive dancing

Trivia (20)

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Refused to perform in clubs that practiced racial segregation.

In 1928, her husband/manager 'Count' Pepito di Abatino dueled Andrew Czolovodi, a Hungarian cavalry officer, over Josephine in St. Stephen's cemetery in Budapest. The duel lasted only 10 minutes, ending when di Abatino was scratched by Czolovodi's blade.

During World War II, she worked as a spy for the French resistance.

Once had a rejected (and dejected) suitor kill himself at her feet.

She adopted 12 children, partly because she couldn't have any of her own and partly because she believed in equality for all, no matter what nationality, religion or race they were of. They were called "the Rainbow Children" and their names were: Aiko (Korea), Luis (Colombia), Janot (Japan), Jari (Finland), Jean-Claude (Canada), Moses (French), Marianne (France), Noel (France), Brahim (Arab), Mara (Venezuela), Koffi (the Ivory-Coast), Stellina (Morocco).

Inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame on May 20, 1990 and the Hall of Famous Missourians on March 29, 1995.

Janet Flanner, "New Yorker" correspondent said of her "Her magnificent dark body, a new model to the French, proved for the first time that black was beautiful".

Pablo Picasso said of her: "Tall, coffee skin, ebony eyes, legs of paradise, a smile to end all smiles.".

In 1995, had a song written about her by the band Fossil titled "Josephine Baker".

In 2003, another musical went on stage, in Belgium, called "Simenon et Josephine". It was a musical comedy related to the Maigret year of 2003 in Belgium.

Georges Simenon, the Belgian author of the famous "Inspector "Maigret" series of detective novels, had a short relationship with Josephine in 1925. However, he couldn't take the fact that she was more famous and in spotlight than he was, and that he had begun calling himself "Mr. Josephine", so he broke it off.

The Dutchman Henk van der Meyden composed and wrote a musical about her life called "Josephine", which had its premiere in 1991 at Luxor Theater, Rotterdam. Cheryl Howard played the role of Josephine. The musical contained five of her original, as well as new material.

Buried in the Cimetiere de Monaco in Monte Carlo.

She became a French citizen in 1937.

Had pet leopards that she would walk down the Champs-Elysees.

In 1951, the Stork Club in New York City refused to serve her because she was black. This led to a confrontation with columnist Walter Winchell. Later, during the McCarthy "Red Scare" period in the early 1950s, she was falsely accused of being a Communist sympathizer, and the FBI started a file on her.

In a "Wayne's World" skit on Saturday Night Live (1975), she was ranked #8 in Wayne's Top 10 Babes of All Time.

Pictured in a poster for the film Princesse Tam-Tam (1935) on a 42¢ USA commemorative postage stamp celebrating Vintage Black Cinema, issued 16 July 2008.

According to Jacqueline Stewart hosting for Turner Classic Movies, Josephine Baker was buried in France with a 21 gun salute. This made her the first American woman to be buried in France with military honors.

Jean Starr was her sister in law.

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Josephine Baker was born on Sunday, 3 June 1906 in East St. Louis, Illinois, USA. Her full name at birth was Freda Joséphine Baker (McDonald). She was best known as a dancer. Baker's country of citizenship (nationality) was French. She died on Saturday, 12 April 1975 in Paris, France at the age of 68. She is buried at Monaco Cemetery. Her religion is listed as Roman Catholic. She had black eyes and black hair (color). Her zodiac star sign was Gemini.

You can find people similar to Josephine Baker by visiting our lists Black French actors and People who renounced United States citizenship.

Full name at birth
Freda Joséphine Baker (McDonald)
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Claim to fame
Singing Slow French Songs
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Date of birth
3 June 1906
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Place of birth
East St. Louis, Illinois, USA
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Date of death
12 April 1975
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Age
68 (age at death)
Place of death
Paris, France
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Cause of death
Cerebral Hemorrhage
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Resting place
Monaco Cemetery
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Occupation
Dancer and singer
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Occupation category
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Nationality
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PERSONAL DETAILS

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Gender
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Sexuality
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Religion
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Distinctive feature
  • Voice and facial features
  • Hair and fashions
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Pets
  • Chiquita (Cheetah - 1931)
  • Toutoute (Goat)
  • Albert (Pig)
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ADDITIONAL DETAILS

Residence
  • Roquebrune, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, (French Riviera), France
  • East St. Louis, Illinois, USA
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High school add_black high school
University add_black university
Talent agency
  • New Faces Agency - USA
  • Gigsalad.Com
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Political affiliation add_black political affiliation
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  • In 2003 another musical went on stage, in Belgium, called "Simenon et Josephine". It was a musical comedy related to the Maigret year of 2003 in Belgium.
  • Once had a rejected (and dejected) suitor kill himself at her feet.
  • Georges Simenon, the Belgium author and inventor of Inspector "Maigret" had a short relationship with Josephine in 1925. He couldn't stand it however that she was more in the spotlight then him, and called himself "Mr. Josephine".
  • Had pet leopards that she would walk down the Champs-Elysees.
  • Refused to perform in clubs that practiced racial segregation.

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