02 October 1925 Josephine Baker first performs in Paris in La Revue Nègre at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
Full Name: Freda Josephine McDonald
Profession:Dancer, Singer, Spy and Civil Rights Activist
Why Famous: A symbol of the Jazz Age, Josephine Baker became a star of the theater in 1920s Paris. She first danced in Paris in 1925 before becoming a sensation the next year when she performed her now famous “Danse Sauvage” at the Folies Bergère cabaret hall wearing just a skirt of bananas.
From the 1930s Baker began to sing on stage. She appeared in a revival of Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway in 1934 but without the same success as she enjoyed in Europe. During WWII Baker worked for French Intelligence then for the Resistance. For this she was awarded a number of honors by France including the French Legion by General Charles de Gaulle.
Baker supported the American civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s, even though she was mostly abroad. When she was in the US she refused to perform to segregated audiences. In 1963 she spoke at the March on Washington alongside Martin Luther King Jr.