Yale University Library

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Beinecke Digital Collections

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker in her famous banana costume Josephine Baker (born Freda Josephine McDonald; 3 June 1906 – 12 April 1975) was a French dancer, jazz and pop music singer, and actress, who came to be known in various circles as the "Black Pearl", "Bronze Venus" "Jazz Queen", and even the "Creole Goddess". Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she renounced her U.S. citizenship to become a citizen of France in 1937. She was fluent in both English and French.

She was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, ''Zouzou'' (1934), and to become a world-famous entertainer. 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. Baker declined the offer.

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.
Showing 1 - 16 of 46 for search: 'Baker, Josephine, 1906-1975', query time: 0.62s
View: List list Grid grid


Expand Your Search

Search our local catalog, finding aids, and more.

Need assistance?

Ask a librarian.