Josephine Baker Facts

Josephine Baker Facts
Josephine Baker was a French activist and entertainer born in the United States who became a famous dancer at the Folies Bergere in Paris, France. She was born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3rd, 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri, to Carrie McDonald, and to a father that has never been identified but Josephine's estate states he was Eddie Carson, a vaudeville drummer. She spent her early years growing up in a poor neighborhood in St. Louis receiving little formal education. At the age of 8 Josephine was working as a domestic. She began working as a waitress at 13, and made money dancing in the street. She married at 15, for the second time. Her first marriage only lasted a year. She moved to New York to be part of the Harlem Renaissance and then landed a tour to Paris where she would spend the rest of her life.
Interesting Josephine Baker Facts:
On October 2, 1925 Josephine Baker opened in La Revue Negre at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees. She was 19.
Josephine Baker became popular for her exotic dancing style. She often appeared in very little clothing.
Once Josephine's first tour was over she broke her contract and starred at the Folies Bergere in Paris.
Josephine Baker often worse a costume made of artificial bananas as a skirt, performing the 'Danse Sauvage'.
Josephine had a pet cheetah that she often took on stage with her. It was common for the cheetah named Chiquita to escape and bother the musicians which added to the show's excitement.
Ernest Hemingway referred to Josephine Baker as 'the most sensational woman anyone ever saw'.
Josephine Baker appeared in three successful European films including Siren of the Tropics, Zouzou, and Princess Tam Tam. In 1940 she starred in Fausse Alerte.
Josephine kept the last name Baker, from her second marriage, for the rest of her career.
In 1936 Josephine appeared on Broadway but the reviews were cruel and she returned to Europe. She gave up her American citizenship and became a legal French citizen.
In 1937 Josephine married Jean Lion, a French industrialist.
During World War II Jospehine worked as an honorable correspondent, relaying important information she heard at parties and other events to French military intelligence.
Josephine Baker toured during the war to entertain troops. After the war she was given the Rosette de la Resistance and the Croix de Guerre. General Charles de Gaulle also made her a Chevalier of the Legion.
Josephine Baker returned to the United States briefly in 1949, performing in Miami and in Harlem. Due to racial issues she refused to back down to, she lost her work visa and she had to leave the country.
Josephine performed in Cuba by invitation of Fidel Castro in Havana.
In 1973 Josephine Baker performed at Carnegie Hall and received a standing ovation.
Josephine refused to perform at segregated halls.
Josephine Baker adopted several children of different ethnicities during the Civil Rights Movement, calling them her Rainbow Tribe.
Josephine Baker died on April 12, 1975, at the age of 68, from a cerebral hemorrhage.


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