Josephine Baker was a famous African American dancer, singer, and actress born in 1906 St. Louis, Missouri. Sadly she was not appreciated in the US, so she went to Paris in the 1920s, where her amazing talent, charm, and charisma were such a smashing success that she became a movie star there. Oh, and she had a pet cheetah named Chiquita, who often escaped the stage to terrorize the musicians.
Even more badass - during WWII, she served as a spy to the French military intelligence, collecting info about German troop locations at all the fancy parties she went to. She pinned those notes, written in invisible ink on her sheet music, inside her underwear. How cool is that.
She also contributed to the Civil Rights movement, and refused to perform for segregated audiences during her tours in the US.
View of singer and actress Pearl Bailey in a scene from the musical “Hello, Dolly!” Bailey sits on trolley holding a newspaper. Stamped on back: “Direct from Broadway, David Merrick presents America’s greatest musical. Pearl Bailey in Hello, Dolly! Co-starring Cab Calloway. Directed and choreographed by Gower Champion.”
Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library