The Extraordinary Life of Josephine Baker: Entertainer, Spy, and Civil Rights Activist

TLDR Josephine Baker, a poverty-stricken girl from St. Louis, rose to fame as a dancer in Paris during the Harlem Renaissance, became a spy for French military intelligence during World War II, adopted 12 children from different cultures, and became a prominent figure in the civil rights movement. Her legacy lives on in France, where she is honored with a street, museum, and a place in the French Pantheon.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Josephine Baker, born into poverty in St. Louis in 1906, became a highly successful entertainer and later used her fame as a spy during World War II.
02:33 Josephine Baker grew up in poverty, without knowing her father, and had a difficult childhood working as a maid and witnessing the 1917 East St. Louis Massacre, which led her to drop out of school and live on the streets.
04:41 Josephine Baker found work as a dancer in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance, but decided to move to Paris where she became famous and popular for her scandalous burlesque performances.
06:59 Josephine Baker became friends with many celebrities in Paris, including Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso, and she had endorsement deals for various products; she also starred in silent and talking films, and eventually began a successful singing career with her hit song "Gédoux Amour"; after a failed return to America, she married a French industrialist, became a French citizen, and was recruited by French military intelligence during World War II.
09:24 During World War II, Josephine Baker used her celebrity status to gather intelligence for French counterintelligence officials, hiding information in invisible ink and her underwear, and after the war, she faced racial discrimination in the US and was unable to return for another decade.
11:32 Josephine Baker adopted 12 children from different cultures and religions, forming her "Rainbow Tribe" family, and continued to support the civil rights movement in the US, even speaking at the 1963 March on Washington, before facing financial difficulties and eventually losing her Chateau.
13:48 Josephine Baker's greatest legacy was in France, where she was embraced as an adopted homeland, and she has been honored with a street named after her, a museum dedicated to her memory, and a place of honor in the French Pantheon.
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