Baker, Joséphine

Josephine Baker, American-born French entertainer, and civil rights activist, 1906- 1975

Baker's career was centred primarily in Europe, mostly in France. She was the first African-American to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 silent film "Siren of the Tropics". During her early career as a dancer, and was among the most celebrated performers to headline the revues of the "Folies Bergère" in Paris. Her performance in the revue "Un vent de folie" caused a sensation in Paris. Her costume, consisting of only a short skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace, became an iconic image and a symbol of the Jazz Age and the 1920s. Baker was known for aiding the French Resistance during World War II, and she refused to perform for segregated audiences in the USA.