Who she is: An American-born French entertainer who first became famous for her erotic dancing in the 1920s to 1930s, Baker was the first African-American woman to star in a major motion picture (the 1927 silent film Siren of the Tropics), and then became a Civil Rights activist in her later years.
Why she was scandalous: She really turned heads in her now-iconic nude banana skirt outfit, which she wore to perform in the 1927 revue Un Vent de Folie in Paris. She also performed with her pet cheetah, "Chiquita," on many occasions. In her personal life, her bisexual and extramarital relationships were scandalous for the time. She was married four times to men, but allegedly had many relationships with women, including with blues singer Clara Smith. She even inspired a 2004 erotic novel called, what else, Scandalous.