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Bella Donna: Josephine Baker

This week's Bella Donna is a true legend. Most people know of Josephine Baker as an internationally famous performer, but her life was so much more complex than you'd expect from looking at her performances. Born in 1906, she began dancing at age 13. Although she found some work in the United States, racial prejudices kept her from performing in certain venues.

In France, however, she became a sensation. She starred in three films, sang in an opera, and became a muse for creative minds such as Langston Hughes and Christian Dior. Moreover, she helped the Résistance by smuggling documents in her sheet music, an action for which she was awarded the highest French military honor, the Croix de Guerre. After the war, she adopted 12 orphans from all over the world; she also became a vocal supporter of the American Civil Rights movement, refusing to perform before segregated audiences and speaking at the historic March on Washington. She died in 1975, one day after starring in a revue that celebrated her 50 years in entertainment.


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To see a video of Josephine dancing,

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nouvellemello nouvellemello 9 years
For one of my classes I did a paper on the formation of stereotypes of African American females and she was one of the women I researched. She really was a phenomenal woman and so much more than just the banna skirt wearing dancing she's usually known for!
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
She really is a beautiful person. Sounds like she had some really hard things in her life.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
MartiniLush, you should really check out her life story, she had some tragedy but she was a very strong woman. She was fabulous.
theovercoat theovercoat 9 years
I absolutely adore her. She was a fabulous, strong woman who confronted so many issues head on without wincing. In response to MartiniLush, I am not sure about a film about her life a la La Vie En Rose, but I do know that there is an excellent documentary out there on her. I'm not sure if you can find it, but it's full of photographs, interviews with those who knew her, as well as footage of her performances.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
thanks, marcied23! I'll see if i can find it on netflix!
marcied23 marcied23 9 years
there is a movie about her, it starred Lynn Whitfield, I want to say it was an HBO movie so it may be available on DVD.
wildflower666 wildflower666 9 years
shes beautiful
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
She has the same birthday as me, obviously not the same year.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
Wow, she was such an amazing person! Very inspiring - Bella do you know if there have been any movies made about her life?
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