Josephine was the ultimate entertainer of her day; much like our current day Beyonce. Josephine was a singer, dancer, actress, humanitarian, and even a spy for the resistance during the war (WWII).
Although she was considered "too skinny" and "too dark" to be a chorus girl, Josephine Baker never gave up. While working backstage as a dresser, Josephine took the initiative to learn all the dance routines. One day a chorus girl got sick and Josephine danced in her place. Josephine's comedic version of the dance routine was a big hit on Broadway.
Eventually, Josephine went to Europe with a dance troupe and became the toast of Paris. Her famous dance in a Banana Skirt was performed at the Folies Bergere in Paris. All of Europe adored Josephine Baker.
Besides singing and dancing Josephine starred in four movies:
Siren of the Tropics (1927)
Princess Tam Tam (1935)
The French Way (1945)
To show that all races could get along, Josephine adopted twelve children from all around the world. She created her own international village. Josephine loved and adored her "Rainbow Tribe."
During the war, Josephine not only entertained the troops, she was a nurse with the Red Cross, and she helped the French Resistance by couriering messages. Josephine used her fame in a good way; she could maneuver around without being questioned.
Though Josephine spent most of her life in France, when she did visit America, Josephine participated in Civil Rights activities. She spoke at the 1963 March on Washington with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Josephine Baker is an amazing figure in history. Don't let the Banana Skirt fool you, Josephine was a person of real substance.