AA Legacy Series Spotlight: Josephine Baker

I wasn’t in any particular rush to write about Baker for my African-American (Women) Series Spotlight – not because I don’t think she’s fabulous – but because she’s already so famous. Then I saw this photo that Nichelle posted to Vintage Black Glamour via Vintage Beauties and literally swooned!


First of all, la Baker looks every bit the coquette, with such allure as if she’s walking on lily pads floating in a pond. Then there’s her gorgeous gown that drapes and hugs her figure.  Can you just imagine how good that fabric (is it silk or satin?) feels to the touch! Love the hood! Finally, her makeup is flawless and amazing!

I would totally rock that look TODAY! Cue the Klymaxx song: The Men All Pause. This is how you conquer the savage beast and rule the world. Nary a picket sign nor admonishment needed…..

There are numerous biographies on the exploits and achievements of la Baker but I want to highlight a few choice tidbits for you:

1. She renounced her US Citizenship after she settled in France

You know what? I don’t blame her one bit. It was a rather difficult time being an African-American in your own country (still can be — but nothing like it was back then!).

Lesson: Go where you are appreciated and leave behind the haters

2. She was a spy for the French Resistance during WWII

OMG ~a real-life heroine and superwoman who wore dresses, heels and pearls. She didn’t sacrifice her personal happiness for a “cause” though. Speaking of…

3.  She married interracially and lived well.

She did after all have a legit reason to hate white people but clearly allowed for individuals to prove their loyalty.

Lesson: Love knows no boundaries so don’t limit yourself

4. She became a mother to many, her very own “Rainbow Tribe” of kids way before….Angelina.

5. Her castle, the  Chateau de Milandes is still operational in the Dordogne region of (southern) France. In fact – you can go visit it!

6. Hasn’t it been confirmed that Nikita’s code name Josephine was an ode to la Baker?


I’m still over the moon about her eye makeup in that photo. How’s about a smoky eye tutorial via Sephora?

I hope you enjoyed the latest installation of the AA Legacy Series and you can catch up on the previous chapters below:

Eartha Kitt

Belva Davis

Della Reese

Betty Davis & Alice Coltrane

Ethel Waters

12 Replies to “AA Legacy Series Spotlight: Josephine Baker”

  1. The pic of La Baker in the shiny dress is one of her best yet, but even better still is the pic of her on the Bellemichou blog website where there's a large pic of her in a black tux and top hat! Gorgeous!

  2. I love reading and learning about the MANY bw before us who ventured out of the U.S. new experiences and better life. It gets soooo old ONLY hearing and reading about the hardships of bw before us (though God bless them for the sacrifices they made so that I could have more opportunities today).

    It was important for me to be exposed to bw of the past who managed to lead pretty glamorous lives and lived comfortably both here and abroad. By traveling overseas with my family and learning about other bw living in Europe, my fears have lessoned dramatically when I contemplate studying and working abroad 🙂

    1. Oh you should definitely go study and live abroad. What's there to contemplate? You have to cover your living expenses wherever you are, there are plenty of scholarships and based on what you're studying the opportunities may be even better than in the US. Your entire perspective changes once you've lived outside the US -- not to mention the white men in Europe don't have the same baggage they do here re: chattel slavery and any lingering concerns. It's just different. Even Jill Scott talked the positive reception she received from them in between lamenting about her married-to-a-white-woman black male "friend" last summer.

  3. This was a great series!There was so much more to Josephine than just her physical beautyShe was an angle on earth.Notice that she never forgot about the struggles of blacks and others even though she herself was already well off.I was just checking out Denyce Graves, Grace Bumbry,Leontyne Price,and Audra McDonald on youtube.It was my first time ever hearing of Grace and Leontyne.I need to read more about all these ladies.They all are so extraordinary, and I'm sure that there are many good lessons we can learn from the lives they have lived outside the limelight as well.

    1. Leontyne Price and Jessye Norman are two of the best opera singers of their generations. I suppose because they are older and if you're a Gen Y or younger you may not have been exposed to them so readily. So maybe one of the chapters should be about "The Opera Divas". I'll consider it but it won't post for a few weeks as I already have enough on my plate. Or…..this could be YOUR next post at your blog and I'll of course link to it and Tweet/FB it around. Just a thought.

      1. Have you considered posting on Kathleen Battle?

        Her song “Lovers,” which was the theme song to the movie House of Flying Daggers was magnificient.

        An opera series would be nice whenever you get the time.

        1. I have several posts in the making…but I also have other priorities that clamor for my attention. This is why I'm urging more of you to step up to the plate. Of course if I ya'll want to support the FT work of this blog at any time, you can.

  4. love her!!!! i am very inspired by that photo, exceptional 🙂 i need to find some good biographies on her, love to read up on these fabulous types of women. I looked into her more when I made my mom up as her for my 28 days of black beauty series and this is reminding me to add more learning to the list 😀

    1. Socialite Dreams: I think that's one of her best photos. I've also taken note of how BW were able to relax and style their hair as well.

  5. I agree that is a beautiful picture of Josephine. Since her dress is rather shiny the material maybe satin.
    Don't forget about the one and only PEARL BAILEY. She had similiar traits like Josephine: intelligent, talented, feminine, beautiful, and married a wm. In 1971, she had her own musical show with many popular other race men of that time and they seemed to really enjoy performing with her. Pearl Bailey could hold her own when singing with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Dean Mean, and others. Also, she had a great sense of humour. Men like women who have a sense of humour.

    1. Lois: I know about Pearl Bailey. One thing I'm realizing is how fortunate I am to be a Gen X-er when many of these women were getting accolades and attention. This was before the criminal/hood/denigration mentality TOOK OVER via (c)Rap music and its ilk. Still, this information is readily available via the Interwebs IF people do research.

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