Today in history, June 3rd, 1906… dancer, singer and actress Freda Josephine McDonald (aka Josephine Baker), who gained fame in Paris, France, thanks to her “risque” cabaret and musical hall performances, was born in St. Louis, Missouri.
While Ms Baker did perform on screen in a number of films – Siren of the Tropics (1927), Zouzou (1934) and Princesse Tam Tam (1935), notably – she’s probably more universally recognized for her vaudeville stage musical acts which helped her become maybe the first international black female celebrity.
She was also politically active, making contributions to the Civil Rights Movement here in the United States, and assisted the French Resistance during World War II, becoming the first American-born woman to receive the French military honor, the Croix de guerre.
She died on April 12th, 1975 at age 68.
Since then, there’s really been only 1 true attempt to tell her story on film – the 1991, HBO movie, The Josephine Baker Story, which starred Lynn Whitfield as Baker. Whitfield would go on to win an Emmy Award for her performance!
It’s been ages since I last saw that film; but, having been reminded of it thanks to this post, I’ll add it to my “to-see” queue, and revisit it.
Louis Gossett Jr., and Ruben Blades co-starred.
Watch the trailer below: