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Josephine Baker

Baker in [[Havana]], Cuba, 1950 Josephine Baker (born Freda Josephine McDonald; 3 June 1906 – 12 April 1975) was an African-American expatriate singer and entertainer, whose career was centered primarily in Europe and in particular in her adoptive country of France. In her early career she was also renowned as a dancer, and was among the most celebrated performers to headline in the lavish revues of the Folies Bergère in Paris. Her performance in the revue ''Un Vent de Folie'' in 1927 caused a sensation in Paris, with Baker in her costume consisting of only a girdle of bananas becoming not only her most iconic image but also a symbol of the jazz age and the 1920's. She was celebrated by all of the great artists and intellectuals of the era, with various circles dubbing her the "Black Pearl", the "Bronze Venus", as well as the "Creole Goddess". Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she renounced her U.S. citizenship to become a citizen of France in 1937 upon her marriage to Jean Lyon.

Baker was the first person of African descent to become a world-famous entertainer and to star in a major motion picture in the silent film ''Les Sirene des Tropiques'' (1927). Baker refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States and is noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. In 1968 she was offered unofficial leadership in the movement in the United States by Coretta Scott King, following Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. After thinking it over, Baker declined the offer due to her children.

She was also known for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, and received the French military honor, the Croix de guerre and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur by General Charles de Gaulle.
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