Josephine Baker



Josephine Baker was born Freda Josephine McDonald on June 3, 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri. She dropped out of school when she was twelve years old, and by the age of 15 she was performing on the streets of St. Louis and was asked to join the cast of a vaudville show in St. Louis. Soon she went to New York, and performed at the Plantation Club in Harlem where she was eventually billed as the highest paid chorus girl in Vaudville.

In 1925 she went to Paris and performed in the Théâtre des Champs Élysées, where she sang and danced topless and became an instant star. She then worked at the famed Folies Bergères in Paris, and gained world wide fame for her dancing and singing. During this period author Ernest Hemingway said of her that she was "the most sensational woman anyone ever saw."

During WWII she became an important part of the French Underground army fighting the Germans. Throughout her career she refused to perform for any segregated audience, and furthered the American Civil Rights cause with her influence and her money. Josephine Baker died on April 12, 1975 in her sleep after a party given in her honor in Paris that celebrated her 50 years in French show business.

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