Today's Memory

Today’s Memory – Josephine Baker

3 - Josephine-Baker-1906-1975

”The things we truly love stay with us always, locked in our hearts as long as life remains”

Josephine Baker

June 3, 1906, St. Louis, Missouri – April 12, 1975, Paris

                                      Josephine Baker

Freda Josephine McDonald was an American-born French dancer, singer, and actress.

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, but 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.

Josephine Baker dancing the original Charleston (1925)

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.

Josephine Baker – Banana dance

She quickly became a favorite of the French, and her fame grew, but she had many ups and downs during her career.

Baker was the first African-American female to star in a major motion picture, Zouzou (1934), to integrate an American concert hall and to become a world-famous entertainer.

Rêves (Dreams)

Baker, who refused to perform for segregated audiences in America, is also noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, for assisting the French Resistance during World War II and for receiving the French military honor, the Croix de guerre.

Don’t touch my tomatoes and ChaChaCha TV Germany 50’s

During Baker’s work with the Civil Rights Movement, she began adopting children, forming a family she often referred to as „The Rainbow Tribe„. Baker wanted to prove that „children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers.” She raised two daughters and 10 sons from all the world, living with her children, her fourth husband, Jo Bouillon, and an enormous staff in the château in Dordogne, France.

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Joséphine Baker – The 1st Black Superstar


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