A woman of many nicknames (the Bronze Venus, the Black Pearl, the Créole Goddess, La Baker, and she was often referred to as the Most Beautiful of Panthers), Josephine Baker was an important cultural figure as well. Besides lending her support to the American Civil Rights movement and speaking at the famous March on Washington (she was the only woman to speak), she was the first female black performer to star in a major feature film and to perform for an integrated audience in the United States. Her participation in the French resistance during WWII earned her the honor of being the first American woman to ever receive France’s Croix de Guerre, the country’s highest Military honor, and General Charles de Gaulle made her a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur.
About Josephine Baker
Born in St. Louis, Baker worked as a maid before she began dancing for tips on the streets. She was recruited for the St. Louis Chorus vaudeville show, before joining the Dixie Steppers Vaudeville troupe, which took her to New York City, where she soon rose to minor local stardom. She moved to Paris, still in her teens, and began performing shows that combined singing, dancing, and comedy into a sensual, erotic, and highly impressive act that captivated Parisian audiences. She became a legendary symbol of the American in Paris, those artists and intellectuals who flocked to France during the Jazz Age, becoming a muse for notable celebrities such as Langston Hughes, Ernest Hemingway, Christian Dior, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Pablo Picasso.