Baker, Josephine

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Baker, Josephine Gender: F
Freda Josephine McDonald
born on 3 June 1906 at 11:00 (= 11:00 AM )
Place St.Louis, Missouri, 38n38, 90w12
Timezone CST h6w (is standard time)
Data source
Rodden Rating B
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_gemcol.18.gif 12°11' s_mo.18.gif s_libcol.18.gif 27°10 Asc.s_vircol.18.gif 02°38'

Josephine Baker


American-born French sophisticated singer and entertainer, described by Ernest Hemingway as the most sensational woman anybody ever saw or ever will. Nude on stage, she was an ebony statue, sexy, dazzling and exotic. Paris adored her. She was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 French silent film Siren of the Tropics (which found success only in Europe).

Raised in poverty, she worked in white homes from age eight where she had to sleep in the basement with the dog, where she was punished brutally and where the master of the house made improper advances. Hungry for love, she was married twice by age 14. By then, she was already singing and dancing with the Jones Family Band. By 18, she had made her Broadway debut in The Chocolate Dandies (1924).

She was invited to go to Paris with a black Vaudeville troupe, opening the show La Revue Nègre on 2 October 1925 to Parisian triumph. She was a sensation in the Folies Bergère wearing only a skirt made of bananas, performing her Danse Sauvage. She became the rage of Paris and leaped to being worth a million dollars within the year for nightclub work and tours. She had an exceptional gift of communicating with the audience which in turn supplied some of her insatiable need for their love. With her jungle elegance she was compared to a panther, a jaguar.

Despite her popularity in France, Baker never attained the equivalent reputation in America. Her star turn in a 1936 revival of Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway was not commercially successful, and later in the run she was replaced by Gypsy Rose Lee. She returned to Europe heartbroken. This contributed to Baker's becoming a legal citizen of France and giving up her American citizenship. Baker returned to Paris in 1937, married the French industrialist Jean Lion, and became a French citizen.

During wartime, Baker worked as an undercover agent with the French resistance, as she was fluent in French, German, Italian and English. After the war, Baker was awarded the Resistance Medal by the French Committee of National Liberation, the Croix de Guerre by the French military, and was named a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur by General Charles de Gaulle.

Her fourth marriage, on 3 June 1947, was to Jo Bouillon. They bought a 15th century castle on which she spent a fortune in renovations. Early in 1951, she adopted the first two babies of her "rainbow tribe," which grew to 12 kids of Korean, Japanese, Finnish, Bolivian, French, Arab, Jewish and African descent.

Bouillon acted as the manager and caretaker of her estate, but he could not stem her hopeless extravagance. When he left her in 1960, after 13 years together, she went steadily downhill. In spite of constant tours to pay the bills, her estate collapsed and she was evicted on 7 October 1968 with her 12 kids. Princess Grace stepped in to help, arranging a house for her in Monte Carlo in 1968. However, Baker's health soon suffered and she suffered from a heart attack and a stroke.

She recovered and made a magnificent and triumphal return to the stage in early 1974. The stress had taken its toll, though, and she died of a cerebral hemorrhage on 12 April 1975 at 5 AM in Paris. On 30 November 2021, she was inducted into the French Panthéon, the first black woman to be honoured in the secular temple.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • friend relationship with Kelly, Grace (born 12 November 1929)
  • lover relationship with Colette (born 28 January 1873)
  • spouse relationship with Bouillon, Jo (born 3 May 1908). Notes: 4th husband, 1947-1961
  • role played of/by Beyoncé (born 4 September 1981). Notes: Beyoncé has portrayed Baker on various occasions
  • role played of/by Hilson, Keri (born 5 December 1982). Notes: Video for her single "Pretty Girl Rock"
  • role played of/by Ross, Diana (born 26 March 1944). Notes: 1977 Broadway and TV show "An Evening with Diana Ross"


  • Work : New Career 2 October 1925 (Joined Vaudeville troupe)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Relationship : Marriage 3 June 1947 (4th husband, Jo Bouillon)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Family : Adopted a child 1951 (Two babies)
  • Relationship : End significant relationship 1960 (Jo Bouillon left her)
  • Financial : Lose significant money 7 October 1968 (Estate collapsed, evicted)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death by Disease 12 April 1975 (Cerebral hemorrhage, age 68)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Social : Great Publicity 30 November 2021 (Inducted into the French Panthéon)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Autobiography with Jo Bouillon, "Josephine," 1976, p.5, "born by 11:00 AM" (Francois Bergeran quotes her to Jacques Dossan for 11:30 AM).

Sy Scholfield cites Josephine's sister Margaret quoted in "Ain't But a Place: An Anthology of African American Writings about St. Louis" by Gerald Lyn Early (Missouri History Museum, 1998), p. 155: "Josephine was born one Sunday morning at eleven o'clock in a St. Louis hospital."

Biography by Phyllis Rose, "Jazz Cleopatra, Josephine Baker in Her Time," Doubleday, 1989. Other biographies are written by Stephen Papich, 1976 and Lynn Haney, 1981.


  • Traits : Body : Race (Black)
  • Traits : Personality : Unique
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Stroke (One stroke, recovered, then hemmorhaged)
  • Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Heart (One attack, recovered)
  • Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Surgery (Hysterectomy)
  • Family : Childhood : Disadvantaged (Raised in poverty)
  • Family : Relationship : Number of Marriages (Four)
  • Family : Parenting : Birthing - Miscarriages (Several)
  • Family : Parenting : Foster, Step, or Adopted Kids (Rainbow Tribe, 12 interracial kids)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids - Homosexual
  • Lifestyle : Financial : Extravagant (Hopelessly extravagant)
  • Lifestyle : Financial : Rags to riches
  • Lifestyle : Home : Expatriate (Moved to France)
  • Passions : Sexuality : Bi-Sexual
  • Personal : Religion/Spirituality : Western (Converted to Catholicism)
  • Vocation : Entertainment : Night Club/ Vaudeville (Nightclub superstar)
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Dancer/ Teacher (Pro)
  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Vocalist/ Pop, Rock, etc.
  • Vocation : Law : Spy/ Counter agent (Member of French Resistance)
  • Vocation : Military : Honors
  • Vocation : Sex Business : Exotic Dancers (Nude dancer)
  • Notable : Extraordinary Talents : For Languages (Quadralingual)
  • Notable : Book Collection : Profiles Of Women