Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 1934

Mother stayed in bed sick today.

Josephine Baker (June 3, 1906 – April 12, 1975)

Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, she became a citizen of France in 1937. Fluent in both English and French, Baker became an international musical and political icon. She was given such nicknames as the "Bronze Venus", the "Black Pearl", and the "Créole Goddess". She married her second husband, Willie Baker, in 1921 but that marriage also was short lived. She retained that last name simply because her career began taking off during that time and that is the last name with which she became best known.

Baker was the first African American female to star in a major motion picture, Zouzou, to integrate an American concert hall, and to become a world-famous entertainer. She is also noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States (she was offered the unofficial leadership of the movement by Coretta Scott King in 1968 following Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, but turned it down), for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, and for being the first American-born woman to receive the French military honor, the Croix de guerre.

Josephine Baker died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Her funeral was held at L'Eglise de la Madeleine. The first American-born oman to receive full French military honors at her funeral, Baker locked up the streets of Paris one last time. She was interred at the Cimetière de Monaco in Monte Carlo.

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