Hmm...this is an interesting choice. Kind of jumped out at me when I started looking for a picture...
Josephine Baker was an actress, dancer, singer, and burlesque performer. She was born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis in 1906. She was African-American/Native American, by way of her mother, and the identity of her father has been widely debated. The most popular opinion is that he was Eddie Carson, a vaudeville drummer.
As a child, Baker danced and sang in the streets for money, as well as doing laundry, waiting tables, cleaning houses, and babysitting. She started performing vaudeville at the age of 15, moving to New York during the Harlem Renaissance and performing in popular clubs and Broadway choruses. In 1925, she began performing in Paris, her act getting more and more successful as it became increasingly erotic and her costumes increasingly skimpy.
In the 1930s, Baker starred in several French films. She also had a recording hit, and posed for painters and sculptors including Picasso. Earnest Hemingway called her "the most sensational woman anyone ever saw." However, her French popularity did not translate to American fame, and her returns to America during this time disappointing. Baker married a Frenchman in 1937 and became a French citizen.
During World War II, Baker remained in France and participated in the Underground. During the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s, Baker showed her support, even though she still lived in France. She refused to perform for segregated audiences on her trips to the U.S., and worked with the NAACP. In 1963, she was the only woman to speak at Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington.
Baker was married six times and adopted twelve multi-national children. She was also linked with Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.
In 1975, at the age of 68, Baker died of a brain hemorrhage. She was the first American-born woman ever to receive French military honors at her funeral.