Josephine Baker Nude
Born into poverty in 1906 to former slaves of African and Native American descent, Josephine Baker started her career as a dancer in St. Louis, the city of her birth, but soon left for France to escape the racial segregation policies of the United States. Her singing and nude dancing made her a hit in France, where she became a citizen in 1937. Her life is the stuff of legend. The Angelina Jolie of her time, Josephine was openly bisexual, married five times, adopted twelve children from all over the world, worked as a spy for the French resistance, had a pet cheetah, spoke alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and was the first black woman to appear in a major motion picture. After the end of World War 2, she was awarded the French Committee of National Liberation medal and was named a Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur. She refused to perform in front of segregated audiences and after MLK’s assassination, Coretta Scott King asked her to take over running the movement. She ultimately declined out of fear for her children. Ms. Baker’s death was as dramatic as her life. In 1975 she appeared in a stage retrospective of her life. The performance was attended by people like Mick Jagger, Sophia Loren, and Princes Grace. It was a hit and won raves. Four days later she was found dead in her bed, surrounded by papers that contained glowing reviews of her performance.
Josephine appeared topless and nude on stage regularly but only a couple of times on screen. She goes topless in a couple of scenes from the silent movie Siren of the Tropics (1927) then we see her topless and nude in various photos shown throughout the documentary Legendary Sin Cities (2005). While she has not been with us for many years, her memory and influence remain strong.