Josephine Baker

Singer, Dancer, Actor
Child performer of the Harlem stage who graduated to black Broadway and then conquered Europe with her effervescent--and mildly salacious--music hall act. At the peak of her success and popularity (she was for a time ... Read more »
Born: 06/03/1906 in St Louis, Missouri, USA

Filmography

Music (10)

Beginners 2011 (Movie)

("Breezin' Along With The Breeze") (Song Performer)

Midnight in Paris 2011 (Movie)

("La Conga Blicoti") (Song Performer)

A Good Year 2006 (Movie)

"Breezin' Along With The Breeze" (Song Performer)

Frida 2002 (Movie)

("C'Est Lui") (Song Performer)

Joe Gould's Secret 2000 (Movie)

("Sans Amour") (Song Performer)

The Legend of Bagger Vance 2000 (Movie)

("Suppose!") (Song Performer)

Up Yours 1994 (Movie)

(Music)

The Moderns 1988 (Movie)

("Love Is a Dreamer") (Song Performer)

Emma's War 1984 (Movie)

("C'est si facile de vous aimer") (Song Performer)

Touki-Bouki 1972 (Movie)

("Paris, Paris") (Song Performer)
Actor (2)

Carmen & Geoffrey 2009 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

La Sirene des tropiques 1928 (Movie)

(Actor)

Biography

Child performer of the Harlem stage who graduated to black Broadway and then conquered Europe with her effervescent--and mildly salacious--music hall act. At the peak of her success and popularity (she was for a time the highest-paid entertainer on the continent), the cooey-voiced, sometimes banana-clad Baker appeared in a series of films, including a silent short ("La Folie du jour" 1927, her debut), two silent features and several sound films. Of the latter the stand-outs are "Zouzou" (1934), in which she starred opposite Jean Gabin and which was superbly directed by Marc Allegret, and the equally delightful "Princess Tam Tam" (1935), which indirectly highlights the flamboyant construction of her stage image.

Relationships

Joe Bouillon

Husband
Left Baker c. 1957

Jean Lion

Husband

Pepito di Abatino

Companion
Split with Baker 1936 and died shortly thereafter

Milestones

1973

Gave last US music hall performance at the Palace Theatre, NYC

1968

Had first heart attack; lost her French estate, Les Milandes, to creditors

1963

Toured America and joined civil rights march on Washington, DC

1951

Refused dinner service at New York's Stork Club on the basis of her race on same night columnist (and fan) Walter Winchell was at the club; told incident to press, incriminating all the guests (including Winchell, who then began a press campaign against h

1951

Returned to America and opened at Copa City in Miami, performing only before integrated audiences

1942

Carried secret messages through enemy lines; became French Resistance fighter

1941

Erroneous reports of Baker's death surfaced; entertained WWII troops

1936

Returned to America to appear in the "Ziegfeld Follies" with Fanny Brice and Bob Hope, resulting in scathing reviews and breakup with Abatino

1930

Recorded six songs for Columbia Records in Paris, including "J'ai Deux Amours/I Have Two Loves"

1928

Embarked on a year-long tour of European capitals

1927

First film appearance in silent French short, "La folie du jour"

1926

Met Pepito Abatino and introduced her famous topless "Banana Dance" as a headliner at the Folies Bergere

1925

Arrived in Paris with La Revue Negre and became an overnight sensation with her "Danse Sauvage" number

1922

Worked as a chorus girl in Broadway's first black musical, "Shuffle Along"

1914

Debut as nightclub singer, Harlem, New York, at age eight

Popular songs include "Sympathique" and "Breezin' Along With The Breeze".

Starred in her two best-remembered films, "Zouzou" (1934) and "Princess Tam Tam" (1935)

Bonus Trivia

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Baker died in her sleep on the second night of her 50th anniversary show at the Bobino Theater in Paris.

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She was decorated in 1946 with the French medal of the Resistance.

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She also was decorated in 1961 with the Legion of Honor by French government for activities as entertainer and ambulance driver during WWII.

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