Joséphine Baker

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Freda Josephine McDonald
3 June 1906
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died 12 April 1975 (aged 68)
Paris, France
Cause of death Cerebral hemorrhage
Resting place Monaco Cemetery
Residence Roquebrun, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Nationality American, French
Occupation Dancer, singer, actress, civil rights activist, spy
Years active 1921–1975
Spouses
William Wells (m. 1919–20)
William Baker (m. 1921–25)
Jean Lion (m. 1937–38)
Jo Bouillon (m. 1947–61)
Partner Robert Brady (1973–75)
Children 12; including Jean-Claude Baker
Musical career
Genres Cabaret, music hall, French pop, French jazz
Instruments Vocals
Labels Columbia, Mercury, RCA Victor
Josephine Baker (3 June 1906 – 12 April 1975) was an American-born French dancer, singer, and actress who came to be known in various circles as the “Black Pearl,” “Bronze Venus” and even the “Creole Goddess”. Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine Baker became a citizen of France in 1937. She was fluent in both English and French.

Baker was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, Zouzou (1934), or to become a world-famous entertainer. 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. Baker turned down the offer. She was also known for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, and received the French military honor, the Croix de guerre and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle.

 

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