Josephine Baker

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Josephine Baker


United States, France

Birth - Death

1906 - 1975



Notable Achievements

Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, Croix de Guerre


Cabaret singer, dancer, and actor who became famous in France starring in the Folie Bergere in the 1930s and 1940s. Considered the first black woman to become famous in film, notably the film 'Zouzou' (1934). Active in the civil rights movement in her later years. Served as a spy for the French Resistence during World War II. From 1939, she worked for France’s counter-intelligence services against the Nazis, joining the resistance and notably collecting information from German officials she met at parties. As a spy for France’s wartime leader-in-exile, Gen Charles de Gaulle, she obtained information on the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and sent reports to London written in her music sheets in invisible ink. She had a pilot’s licence at a time when this was exceptional for women, and became a lieutenant in the French air force’s female auxiliary corps, gaining military decorations. Inducted into Paris' Panthéon mausoleum for revered figures, being the first black woman to receive this honour. Bisexual, with a notable relationship with painter Frida Kahlo, among others. Not to be confused with famed lesbian physician Dr. S. Josephine Baker.

See Also

Further Reading/Research

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