Josephine Baker is remembered principally as a spirited entertainer, the glamorous "Josephine" who became the toast of France. But there was a great deal more to Josephine Baker. She was a great lover of life and of humanity, who devoted herself to making the world a more hospitable place and to securing a better future for its citizens. She was the role model for entertainers to stand up for their beliefs, and became a legend in the process.
A dancer, jazz singer, actress and a comedian all in one, Josephine Baker was the first black female entertainer to break through racial prejudice in Europe and the United States. Her acts were both outrageously funny and quite sexy. She was a star of stage, screen and recordings; Baker spent much of her life working tirelessly against prejudice, during World War II in Europe and the civil-rights era in America. She's still one of the most famous expatriates in American history, perfectly epitomizing the hedonistic abandon of the Jazz Age in Paris
Josephine Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906. When she was thirteen she dropped out of school left home and got married but the marriage only lasted a few months before it ended. Josephine started performing as a street musician in St. Louis and soon graduated to performing on the T.O.B.A. vaudeville circuit. In 1922 she landed a small part as a comedy chorus girl in the touring company of Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake's musical revue "Shuffle Along". Josephine went over well in her small role in the revue and came to the attention of Sissle and Blake. They wrote a special part for her in their 1924 production of "Chocolate Dandies". During this time period Josephine became the steady girl friend of Eubie Blake.
French producers came to New York looking to cast an all- black musical revue in Paris. They saw Josephine performing at the Plantation Club and offered her a part in their production La Revue Negré. In 1925 she went to Paris to appear in in the show. The show opened on October 2, 1925 in Paris at the Théâtre Champs-Elysées. Josephine had two numbers in La Revue Negré. In the first routine she danced a frantic version of the Charleston while accompanied by a jazz band that featured Sidney Bechet. Her second routine was the closing number of the show was called "Danse de Sauvage". It was an erotic dancethat she performed with the male dancer named Joe Alex. This dance was the hit of the show and proved to be the role that would launch Josephine towards stardom in Europe.