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Josephine Baker Was Born Today... Watch "The Josephine Baker Story" Starring Lynn Whitfield

by Tambay A. Obenson
June 3, 2011 3:29 AM
3 Comments
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Today in history, June 3rd, 1906... dancer, singer and actress Freda Josephine McDonald (aka Josephine Baker), who gained fame in Paris, France, thanks to her "risque" cabaret and musical hall performances, was born in St. Louis, Missouri.

While Ms Baker did perform on screen in a number of films - Siren of the Tropics (1927), Zouzou (1934) and Princesse Tam Tam (1935), notably - she's probably more universally recognized for her vaudeville stage musical acts which helped her become maybe the first international black female celebrity.

She was also politically active, making contributions to the Civil Rights Movement here in the United States, and assisted the French Resistance during World War II, becoming the first American-born woman to receive the French military honor, the Croix de guerre.

She died on April 12th, 1975 at age 68.

Since then, there's really been only 1 true attempt to tell her story on film - the 1991, HBO movie, The Josephine Baker Story, which starred Lynn Whitfield as Baker. Whitfield would go on to win an Emmy Award for her performance!

It's been ages since I last saw that film; but, having been reminded of it thanks to this post, I'll add it to my "to-see" queue, and revisit it.

Louis Gossett Jr., and Ruben Blades co-starred.

Watch the trailer below:

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3 Comments

  • Jasmine gaston | May 10, 2012 10:46 AMReply

    i never feeled like I seen this before

  • JasonJee | June 4, 2011 1:32 AMReply

    Lynn Whitfield was brilliant in her portrayal but I was stunned to learn that MS Baker was a lesbian and how that was totally ignored. If you tell the story tell the story.

  • African Diaspora International Film Festival | June 3, 2011 8:10 AMReply

    Watch the new documentary "Josephine Baker: Black Diva in White Man's World" tonight in NYC.

    FRIDAY, JUNE 3 @ 8:30PM

    Josephine Baker- Black Diva in a White Man's World- by Annette von Wangenheim (Germany/USA, 45mins) - Back by popular demand!
    A tender, revealing documentary about one of the most famous and popular performing artists of the 20th century. Her legendary banana belt dance created theatre history; her song “J’ai deux amours” became a classic, and her hymn. The film focuses on her life and work from a perspective that analyses images of Black people in popular culture. It portrays the artist in the mirror of European colonial clichés and presents her as a resistance fighter, an ambulance driver during WWII, and an outspoken activist against racial discrimination involved in the worldwide Black Consciousness movement of the 20th century.

    WHERE: Teachers College, Columbia University
    525 West 120th Street - Room 263 Macy
    Take train 1 to 116th street and walk uptown four blocks. Entrance between Broadway and Amsterdam. Picture ID requested to enter building.

    Ticket: $6

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