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The Great Josephine Baker: Women's History Month Feature

It is with great pride and humility that we share the amazing story of Josephine baker, one of the world's greatest entertainers at a time when the world was in a precarious position.

Click the Image belore to watch the special program

There are few if any stories about the journey to success Fame, fortune, and icon status like that of the legendary Josephine baker. And the video episode we're sharing in this project is a reflection of the amazing path Baker took from extreme poverty, segregation and racism to international Fame and france, Europe and around the globe. She was a trailblazer, trendsetter, and war hero so watch and enjoy but first just a little background that may stimulate your interest in the video.

Freda Josephine Baker (June 3, 1906 – April 12, 1975), naturalised as Joséphine Baker, was an American-born French dancer, singer and actress. Her career was centered primarily in Europe, mostly in her adopted France. She was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 silent film Siren of the Tropics, directed by Mario Nalpas and Henri Étiévant.

She was to perform with an integrated cast at the American concert hall, and one of the first African American entertainers who achieved acclaim both in movies and on the stage.

During her early career, Baker 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 in 1927 caused a sensation in the city. Her costume, consisting of only a short skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace, became an iconic image and a symbol both of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties.

Baker was celebrated by artists and intellectuals of the era, who variously dubbed her the "Black Venus", the "Black Pearl", the "Bronze Venus", and the "Creole Goddess". Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she renounced her U.S. citizenship and became a French national after her marriage to French industrialist Jean Lion in 1937. She raised her children in France.She aided the French Resistance during World War II.

After the war, she was awarded the Resistance Medal by the French Committee of National Liberation, the Croix de Guerre by the French military, and was named a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. Baker refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States and is noted for her contributions to the civil rights movement.

Films about Josephine Baker

The Josephine Baker Story is an American television film that first aired on HBO on March 16, 1991. It stars Lynn Whitfield as Josephine Baker. Whitfield was glad to be chosen to play Josephine Baker in this movie, but she was concerned about the scene requiring her to bare her breasts to perform Baker's famous "Banana Dance."

"I was nervous about what my grandmother would think," she said, but then she warmed to the idea: "It's what you think Eve would look like." At the Golden Globe Awards, the film was nominated for "Best Limited Series, Anthology Series or Television Motion Picture", Lynn Whitfield was nominated for "Best Actress - Limited Series, Anthology Series or Television Motion Picture", and Louis Gossett Jr. won "Best Supporting Actor - Television".

Chasing a Rainbow: The Life of Josephine Baker (1987)

This film details the life of Josephine Baker from her time in St. Louis to her life in France. Chasing a Rainbow: The Life of Josephine Baker is also a commentary on race relations across the world in the 1920s.

Baker left the United States after witnessing a lynching and living in extreme segregation. She was much more accepted in Paris and was welcomed amongst other ex-pats that were living there at the time like the writer Ernest Hemingway. She shocked, awed, and amazed the crowd with her risqué dance moves and costumes.

However, there were a few people in Paris that did not think she deserved to be so famous. In this documentary, you’ll meet characters like Maurice Chevalier and Mistinguett, who were quite open about their disdain for Baker.

This documentary features footage of Baker herself as well as the United States and Paris as she saw them. The footage from the end of her life is especially heart-wrenching. As mentioned, Baker adopted 12 children and lived with them in a castle in the South of France. Due to irresponsible spending, Baker was forced to leave her home.

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