Josephine Baker

U.S.-born French Actress + Singer + Dancer; World War Ii French Resistance Volunteer
Born Jun 3, 1906

Josephine Baker was a dancer, singer, and actress who found fame in her adopted homeland of France. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she renounced her American citizenship in 1937 to become French. She was given such nicknames as the "Bronze Venus", the "Black Pearl", and the "Créole Goddess". Baker was the first African American female to star in a major motion picture, to integrate an American concert hall, and to become a world-famous entertainer.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Josephine Baker.


1906 Birth Born on June 3, 1906.


1921 15 Years Old 1 More Event
In Baker’s teen years she struggled to have a healthy relationship with her mother, Carrie McDonald. McDonald did not want Josephine to become an entertainer, and she scolded Baker for not tending to her second husband, Willie Baker, whom she had married in 1921 at age 15.
Although she left Willie Baker when her vaudeville troupe was booked into a New York City venue and divorced him 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. … Read More


1934 28 Years Old …  In 1934, she took the lead in a revival of Jacques Offenbach's opera La créole, which premiered in December of that year for a six-month run at the Théâtre Marigny on the Champs-Élysées of Paris. … Read More


1936 30 Years Old Despite her popularity in France, Baker never attained the equivalent reputation in America. Her star turn in a 1936 revival of Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway generated less than impressive box office numbers, and later in the run, she was replaced by Gypsy Rose Lee. … Read More
1937 31 Years Old 1 More Event
Baker returned to Paris in 1937, married a Jewish Frenchman, Jean Lion, and became a French citizen. … Read More
1939 33 Years Old In September 1939, when France declared war on Germany in response to the invasion of Poland, Baker was recruited by Deuxième Bureau, French military intelligence, as an "honorable correspondent". … Read More
1941 35 Years Old Later in 1941, she and her entourage went to the French colonies in North Africa. … Read More


1947 41 Years Old She married French composer and conductor Jo Bouillon in 1947, but their union also ended in divorce. … Read More
1949 43 Years Old In 1949, a reinvented Baker returned in triumph to the Folies Bergere. … Read More
In 1951 Baker was invited back to the United States for a nightclub engagement in Miami. … Read More


1963 57 Years Old In 1963, she spoke at the March on Washington at the side of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Baker was the only official female speaker.
1964 58 Years Old In her later years, Baker converted to Roman Catholicism. In 1964, Baker lost her castle due to unpaid debts; after, Princess Grace offered her an apartment in Roquebrune, near Monaco.


1968 62 Years Old 1 More Event
…  In 1968 she was offered unofficial leadership in the movement in the United States by Coretta Scott King, following Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. … Read More
1975 69 Years Old 1 More Event
On 8 April 1975, Baker starred in a retrospective revue at the Bobino in Paris, Joséphine à Bobino 1975, celebrating her 50 years in show business. … Read More
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