He sang and danced provocatively. She wore a banana skirt. But she was also a French resistance fighter, a spy, a civil rights activist, mother of 12 adopted children and an American, she was Josephine Baker and honestly I didn’t know her very well before visiting her at her home at the Château des Milandes to the Dordogne valley.
I quickly discovered that he was much more than the caricature portrayed in the press. It is a story to know, especially since he was awarded at the Panthéon in Paris on November 30, 2021. He is the only original individual. American and first black woman to receive this distinction.
Josephine Baker was born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3, 1906 in St. Louis Missouri.She had a difficult childhood, lived in poverty, left school very early to be able to work and married very early. She was named after her second husband, Baker, professionally, and was a backing vocalist in a vaudeville company in New York. (A) Success in France Eventually, Josephine exploded on her own as a burlesque dancer and singer.
Her success took her to France, where she joined an all-black magazine in Paris. In the early 1920s, he danced at the Folies Bergère of La Folie du Jour magazine. She was very charismatic and expressed herself through dancing and singing. The Folies Bergère were known for having a lot of nudity, and Baker’s costume was skimpy and looked almost bare.
Her dance, “Danse Sauvage” (aka “Banana Dance”) became as famous as the banana skirt she wore, basically a skirt made of (fake) bananas hanging from her waist. Baker had a number of pets – chimpanzees, pigs, goats, snakes – and a very famous cheetah, named Chiquita, which he included in his shows.In addition to acting in dance and singing, he also made films, recorded music and opened his own nightclub, called “Chez Joséphine”. He met with great success in France and in Europe.
The French embraced her and she embraced France, a country that did not separate whites and blacks. Unfortunately, she continued to face racism when she returned to the United States to perform. In the early years, it did not have the same success in the United States as in Europe.
A spy in France and for France If Josephine Baker was a popular artist in France, it was also her activities during the Second World War that made her dear to the French. To the public she was an entertainer but behind the scenes she was a spy, working with the French military to obtain and share secret information she had gathered about the Germans.
One story is that he hid the messages in the partitions and passed them on to the allies. he was awarded the Resistance Medal, the French military decoration known as the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor by General Charles de Gaulle.c) A civil lawyer later, Baker was also active against racism and segregation.