The name of the dancer Josephine Baker will be immortalized in the Parisian Pantheon
The future diva of the Parisian music hall was born at the beginning of the century in the slums of the American city of St. Louis, Missouri. She learned about poverty in early childhood, but thanks to her natural artistic talent, she first began performing in street performances, and then on the stage in Philadelphia and New York. She sang the rhythmic melodies of ragtime, this negro musical genre, the predecessor of jazz, played the trombone and, of course, danced. Yes, so incendiary that in 1925 she was offered to go to France to participate in the musical show Le revue negre.
Josephine immediately accepted the invitation. After she said that she took the trip to Europe as a liberation: “I was suffocating in America.
On the stage of the Parisian theater of the Champs Elysees, she danced the Charleston, unknown then to Europeans. The Parisians called it “wild dance”, because Baker appeared in front of the audience half-naked in a short skirt made of … bananas. Not real. Dummies. The success was phenomenal. Thus was born a star that was destined to shine for decades. Moreover, her exotic image coincided in time with the fashion for African culture, which influenced many artists of that time. Josephine became the muse of many of them. Her portraits were painted by Picasso, Matisse, Van Dongen, our compatriot Georges (Georgy) Pozhedaev-Godunov.
Baker also starred in films, and in 1937 she received French citizenship. Two years later, when World War II broke out, she immediately offered her services to Charles de Gaulle. She worked for French counterintelligence and the Resistance movement. Using her popularity and connections at the embassies, she obtained secret information both in France and during numerous trips to North Africa and the countries of the Middle East. Moreover, she wrote these messages in invisible ink on the scores of her songs. There is a known case when Josephine, hiding in her underwear, managed to deliver a microfilm with a list of Nazi spies to Lisbon and hand it over to an English messenger. For her courage and courage she was awarded the medals of the Resistance, the Badge of the Military Cross and the Order of the Legion of Honor.
After the end of the war and until her death in 1975, Josephine Baker was actively involved in the civil rights movement in the United States. Chagall next to Martin Luther King during his landmark 1963 March to Washington. She was delighted with the Cuban revolution and was friends with Fidel Castro. There is a known case when the commander decided to show the “black Venus” the Bay of Pigs, where in 1961 a landing of counterrevolutionaries, organized by the United States, landed. Overwhelmed with feelings, Josephine then told reporters: “I am incredibly happy to visit the place where American imperialism was inflicted with such a resounding defeat!”
In recent years, the “black pearl” of the music hall has lived in the Les Milandes estate in the south-west of France, where she raised a children’s “international” – 12 orphans of all colors and from all continents. Her show, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of her career on the Paris stage, was attended by friends and world celebrities – Sophia Loren, Princess Grace Kelly, Jeanne Moreau, Alain Delon. A few days after that, she was gone.
France, not forgetting the military merits of Josephine Baker, saw off the great actress with military honors intended exclusively for outstanding personalities.