She Served As French Military Intelligence During WWII. With her trademark suits and little black dresses, fashion designer Coco Chanel created timeless designs that are still popular today. Photo: Gaston Paris/Roger Viollet/Getty Images. She worked for the French Resistance during World War II, and during the 1950s and '60s devoted herself to fighting segregation and racism in the United States. She pinned notes with the information she gathered inside her underwear (counting on her celebrity to avoid a strip search). In her powerful speech, one of the things Baker notably said was: I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents. Josephine Baker was born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, MO, in 1906 to Carrie McDonald, a laundress, and Eddie Carson, a musician. [36] They were married in the French town of Crèvecœur-le-Grand, in a wedding presided over by the mayor, Jammy Schmidt. She has also been inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame,[72] and on 29 March 1995, into the Hall of Famous Missourians. She carried information for transmission to England, about airfields, harbors, and German troop concentrations in the West of France. After the miscarriage, she developed an infection so severe it required a hysterectomy. [24] This contributed to Baker's becoming a legal citizen of France and giving up her American citizenship.[6]. Real Name: Freda Josephine McDonald. "[37], She refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States, although she was offered $10,000 by a Miami club. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Josephine_Baker&oldid=1001540085, Female recipients of the Croix de Guerre (France), Female resistance members of World War II, French-language singers of the United States, French people of African-American descent, Recipients of the Croix de Guerre 1939–1945 (France), Articles with French-language sources (fr), Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles with unsourced statements from November 2020, Wikipedia articles with CANTIC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with MusicBrainz identifiers, Wikipedia articles with PLWABN identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SELIBR identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SNAC-ID identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SUDOC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with Trove identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Baker appears in her role as a member of the French Resistance in, The Italian-Belgian francophone singer composer. Following the war, Baker spent most of her time at Les Milandes with her family. Biography Abigail Smith Adams. Mata Hari was a professional dancer and mistress who became a spy for France during World War I. https://www.biography.com/performer/josephine-baker. Sara Josephine Baker, American physician who contributed significantly to public health and child welfare in the United States. T.S. A term of the time describes this part of the cast as "The Pony". [citation needed], When Baker was near bankruptcy, Kelly offered her a villa and financial assistance (Kelly by then was princess consort of Rainier III of Monaco). 's Rainbow Honor Walk", "Alexander Calder. With Lynn Whitfield, Rubén Blades, David Dukes, Louis Gossett Jr.. Born poor in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine Baker achieved fame and fortune through her sizzlingly exotic, erotic performances. Only 6 left in stock - order soon. [32], Under the management of Abatino, Baker's stage and public persona, as well as her singing voice, were transformed. Especially for a black woman (of that time) who would customarily have had her baby at home with the help of a midwife? ', Legendary performer Nina Simone sang a mix of jazz, blues and folk music in the 1950s and '60s. [77] Two of Baker's sons, Jean-Claude and Jarry (Jari), grew up to go into business together, running the restaurant Chez Josephine on Theatre Row, 42nd Street, New York City. Kraut, Anthea, "Between Primitivism and Diaspora: The Dance Performances of Josephine Baker, This page was last edited on 20 January 2021, at 03:52. Josephine Baker Biography by John Bush + Follow Artist. Freda Josephine McDonald was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Return to the U.S., Civil Rights Advocate. Paris, c. 1927 | MoMA", "Anastasia-Paris Hold the Key (to Your Heart) Original", "The Triplets of Belleville (Les Triplettes de Belleville)", "Langston Hughes African American Film Festival 2009: Carmen and Geoffrey", "Legend Josephine Baker passes away and Vince Gill is born", "The Verdict: What Do Critics Think of Josephine? [47] As the decorated war hero who was bolstered by the racial equality she experienced in Europe, Baker became increasingly regarded as controversial; some Black people even began to shun her, fearing that her outspokenness and racy reputation from her earlier years would hurt the cause.[37]. Later she … Following her divorce from Wells, she found work with a street performance group called the Jones Family Band. In 1925, at the peak of France’s obsession with American jazz and all things exotic, Baker traveled to Paris to perform in La Revue Nègre at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. In preparation for her performances, she went through months of training with a vocal coach. © 2021 Biography and the Biography logo are registered trademarks of A&E Television Networks, LLC. [75] The Piscine Joséphine Baker is a swimming pool along the banks of the Seine in Paris named after her. She was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. Isadora Duncan was a trailblazing dancer and instructor whose emphasis on freer forms of movement was a precursor to modern dance techniques. Baker raised two daughters, French-born Marianne and Moroccan-born Stellina, and 10 sons, Korean-born Jeannot (or Janot), Japanese-born Akio, Colombian-born Luis, Finnish-born Jari (now Jarry), French-born Jean-Claude and Noël, Israeli-born Moïse, Algerian-born Brahim, Ivorian-born Koffi, and Venezuelan-born Mara. [65][66], She received a full Roman Catholic funeral that was held at L'Église de la Madeleine. The honor she was paid spurred her to further her crusading efforts with the "Save Willie McGee" rally. But I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad. Her family was so poor that a young Baker would search trash cans for headless dolls, which she would repair for her sisters. Nikolay Alexeyev . This biography provides detailed information about her childhood, life, career and timeline. However, she was met with a generally hostile, racist reaction and quickly returned to France, crestfallen at her mistreatment. [37], Although based in France, Baker supported the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s. "[26], In Paris, she became an instant success for her erotic dancing, and for appearing practically nude onstage. Josephine Baker was so much more than a performer. And when I get mad, you know that I open my big mouth. The French government honored her with a 21-gun salute, making Josephine Baker the first American woman buried in France with military honors. [19] She left him when her vaudeville troupe was booked into a New York City venue and divorced in 1925; it was during this time she began to see significant career success, and she continued to use his last name professionally for the rest of her life. She was known for aiding the French Resistance during World War II. We strive for accuracy and fairness. The Free French had no organized entertainment network for their troops, so Baker and her entourage managed for the most part on their own. Carrie remarried soon thereafter and would have several more children in the coming years. Martin Luther King Jr.[48] Baker was the only official female speaker. [81], Writing on the 110th anniversary of her birth, Vogue described how her 1926 "danse sauvage" in her famous banana skirt "brilliantly manipulated the white male imagination" and "radically redefined notions of race and gender through style and performance in a way that continues to echo throughout fashion and music today, from Prada to Beyoncé. After beginning her comeback to the stage in 1973, Baker died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1975, and was buried with military honors. Josephine Baker was an African American dancer and singer who lived in Paris, France, and was regarded as one of the most famous Americans living overseas. Suspected of being a double agent, she was executed in 1917. It appears in album "Last days of the century" from 1988. The two could not marry because Baker was still married to her second husband, Willie Baker. She also began traveling into the South. "Josephine Baker to Crown Queen" Headliner Los Angeles Sentinel 22 May 1952. sfn error: no target: CITEREFDittmer1994 (, Jack Hockett - Josephine Baker correspondence, etc., (dated 1967-1976) part of the Henry Hurford Janes – Josephine Baker Collection at Yale University Archives, Box: 2, Folder: 78, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special, Josephine, a burlesque cabaret dream play, "Collective Mental State and Individual Agency: Qualitative Factors in Social Science Explanation", "Josephine Baker: The life of an artist and activist", "Josephine Baker (Freda McDonald) Native of St. Louis, Missouri", "When Frida Kahlo Set Her Eyes on Josephine Baker", "From the archive, 26 August 1974: An interview with Josephine Baker", "Josephine Baker: The First Black Super Star", "Female Spies in World War I and World War II", "Review of Josephine Baker: A Centenary Tribute", "Josephine Baker hero | Heroes: What They Do & Why We Need Them", "Firestorm Incident At The Stork Club, 1951", "Stork Club Refused to Serve Her, Josephine Baker Claims", "Stork Club Special Delivery Exhibit at the New York Historical Society recalls a glamour gone with the wind", "Profiles in Courage for Black History Month", "March on Washington had one female speaker: Josephine Baker", "(1963) Josephine Baker, "Speech at the March on Washington" | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed", "Would the perfect family contain a child from every race? After a family service at Saint-Charles Church in Monte Carlo,[69] Baker was interred at Monaco's Cimetière de Monaco.[65][70][71]. When Baker's father died suddenly when she was sixteen, she gave up a Vassar scholarship to go to medical school to train for a secure career as a physician. "[27][28] The author spent hours talking with her in Paris bars. "use strict";(function(){var insertion=document.getElementById("citation-access-date");var date=new Date().toLocaleDateString(undefined,{month:"long",day:"numeric",year:"numeric"});insertion.parentElement.replaceChild(document.createTextNode(date),insertion)})(); Subscribe to the Biography newsletter to receive stories about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives. [20] Abatino was not only Baker's management, but her lover as well. [12] She took in laundry to wash to make ends meet, and at eight years old, Josephine began working as a live-in domestic for white families in St. She was taken to Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, where she died, aged 68, on 12 April 1975. She was later involved for a time with the artist Robert Brady, but they never married. Just days later, on April 12, 1975, Baker died in her sleep of a cerebral hemorrhage. Oh yes, Bricktop was there as well. "[33], Despite her popularity in France, Baker never attained the equivalent reputation in America. She was discharged on June 17, her baby, Freda J. McDonald having been born two weeks earlier. Freda Jos?phine Baker (McDonald) is born at 3 June, 1906 in East St. Louis, Illinois, U.S and French by birth. [58] Her estate featured hotels, a farm, rides, and the children singing and dancing for the audience. The bathrooms were designed in art deco style but most rooms retained the French chateau style. It celebrates Baker's life and works. I just couldn't stand America and I was one of the first colored Americans to move to Paris. While she had four marriages to men, Jean-Claude Baker writes that Josephine also had several relationships with women. Josephine Baker's cultural legacy is still alive beyond the hundredth anniversary of her birth in 1906. She was also a spy for the Allied forces during World War II!She was the first ever American woman awarded the Croix de Guerre (a French military award for heroism), and she was also awarded the Medal of Resistance in 1946.. Winchell responded swiftly with a series of harsh public rebukes, including accusations of Communist sympathies (a serious charge at the time). In the 1920s she moved to France and soon became one of Europe's most popular and highest-paid performers. While working there, she married a man named Willie Wells, from whom she divorced only weeks later. Josephine Baker. Baker was born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri. She briefly returned to school two years later before running away from home at age 13 and finding work as a waitress at a club. She made an immediate impression on French audiences when, with dance partner Joe Alex, she performed the Danse Sauvage, in which she wore only a feather skirt. I became famous first in France in the twenties. 2. [15][16], At 13, she worked as a waitress at the Old Chauffeur's Club at 3133 Pine Street. Name: Freda Josephine McDonald Date of Birth: 3 June 1906 Place of Birth: St. Louis, Missouri, United States Date of Death: 12 April 1975 (aged 68) Place of Death: Paris, France Occupation: Civil rights activist, Vedette, Singer, Decorated World War II Spy In later shows in Paris, she was often accompanied on stage by her pet cheetah "Chiquita," who was adorned with a diamond collar. La Baker appears to have had a much harder life than Dietrich, in fact La Baker still struggled in her adult life, … [44], In January 1966, Fidel Castro invited Baker to perform at the Teatro Musical de La Habana in Havana, Cuba, at the 7th-anniversary celebrations of his revolution. She and Lion separated in 1940. In her later career, Baker faced financial troubles. After her recovery (which she continued to fall in and out of), she started touring to entertain British, French, and American soldiers in North Africa. It’s all about Josephine Baker. [53] Josephine Baker was bisexual. [42][43], An incident at the Stork Club interrupted and overturned her plans. "[30], Later in 1941, she and her entourage went to the French colonies in North Africa. )[46]), Baker worked with the NAACP. The cheetah frequently escaped into the orchestra pit, where it terrorized the musicians, adding another element of excitement to the show. Josephine Baker in Art and Life: The Icon and the Image. Her café-society fame enabled her to rub shoulders with those in the know, from high-ranking Japanese officials to Italian bureaucrats, and to report back what she heard. Place Joséphine Baker (.mw-parser-output .geo-default,.mw-parser-output .geo-dms,.mw-parser-output .geo-dec{display:inline}.mw-parser-output .geo-nondefault,.mw-parser-output .geo-multi-punct{display:none}.mw-parser-output .longitude,.mw-parser-output .latitude{white-space:nowrap}48°50′29″N 2°19′26″E / 48.84135°N 2.32375°E / 48.84135; 2.32375 (place Joséphine Baker)) in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris was named in her honor. Sara Josephine Baker was born in 1873 in Poughkeepsie, New York, to Daniel Mosher Baker, a lawyer, and Jenny Harwood Brown, one of the first graduates of Vassar College. On Broadway Jean-Claude Baker did an exhaustive amount of research into the orchestra pit, where she died, 68. Back into the Legacy Walk in Chicago, Illinois 27 ] [ 80 ], her first marriage to! 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