19 thoughts on “TBT: The Josephine Baker Story (1991)

  1. I know that she received the Legion d’Honneur for her bravery during WWII for her Resistance work. I believe her medal was actually given to her by General/President DeGaulle. She was hugely popular during the war years. Her act was seen by several prominent Nazis and she used that in her Resistance work.

    I also know she was better treated in France than her own country, which is a shame and her Rainbow Tribe children came from a love of children which she couldn’t have.

    Josephine Baker is definitely worth a couple more biopics/miniseries.

      1. I saw the made for TV movie and read a biography. Her life was interesting to say the least.

        Hopefully, we’ll see more about her.

  2. Thanks for all the great photos – of both the real and “reel” Josephine. Sounds like it was out of the scope of the HBO movie, but the documentary & book “Battle of Versailles” have another great image of her, in her late 60’s, owning the stage in a sheer sequined catsuit. #goals #badass

  3. How did I miss this? I love her! She has it all – beauty, talent, compassion and heroism. I think I was too poor to have HBO in 1991.

  4. I had the chance to visit her chateau several years ago and can recommend it. I learned so much about Baker that I hadn’t been aware of — notably her work during World War II. Many of her costumes are on display. In the end, it was rather sad to learn of how her generosity outstripped her resources. if anyone visits the chateau, do take in the falconry demonstration. And naturally, the 15th-century chateau is beautiful on its own merits.

  5. I wrote about Josephine Baker in Scandalous Women, so I read quite a few biographies of her. I know that she also was also a spy during World War II, working for the resistance. Cush Jumbo did a one woman show Off Broadway about Josephine Baker. I agree that we need another miniseries about her, one that goes into more depth than 90 minute movie.

  6. All this background is so revealing. I simply thought of her as a performer whose work I didn’t care for, who was unfortunately treated like crap in the US due to racism, and rather a non-event other than that–it didn’t add up to a lot of reasons for genuine respect for her on my part. I’m so glad to learn there was so much more to her, so thanks for pointing it out, Trystan and commenters, so I can research more. I am old enough now to really LIKE when my view of someone gets changed for the better.

  7. I visited the château des Milandes and it is a beautiful place. Unfortunately, it was also part of her downfall. The château was a money pit… And Josephine was NOT a business woman. She almost literally worked herself to death, trying to keep the place afloat.

  8. I shall try to find this one. I adored The Rainbow Children she wrote with her husband and wonderfully illustrated by Piet Worm, as a child. Still do, actually. It’s about a little hen who is snubbed by the other en’s because she only have one eye, and decides to leave the henhouse to find it. The references to her own life is pretty obvious, but I didn’t know that as a child.

  9. Try to see J.B. in “Zouzou” (1934) as a Parisian laundress who stumbles into show biz, becomes a star, but doesn’t get off with the man of her dreams, her “foster brother” played by the great Jean Gabin. (France may have loved her more than the U.S., but she and Gabin still couldn’t have an on-screen affair.) Anyway, Baker is absolutely charming–something about her combination of grace and goofiness and her very pretty voice. (She’s so fit, too: an example to us all.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GminBbK89FQ

  10. I understand and appreciate her motives but adopting a slew of children and putting them on show to make a political point was not the best decision.

  11. I remember seeing a brief glimpse of her in the animated ‘Anastasia’ movie, with her cheetah, when they sang ‘Paris (Par-ee) holds the Key’- & she has a line or two in the song; ‘down what we call La Rue‘.
    I also heard that her Cuba trip made her even more controversial in America- don’t quote me on it; it was a while ago that I read that.

    Would you guys consider doing a WCW on a fellow Resistance member, Nancy Wake ? NZ-born, Australian-raised- she’s got an incredible story; there was a movie starring Noni Hazelhurst (which Nancy herself cameoed in), a much better bio-pic, called ‘The White Mouse’ (her Nazi codename), which came from the biography I recently bought- & the movie, ‘Charlotte Gray’ (with Cate Blanchett as Charlotte) also had her as the inspiration, along with some other Resistance figures… actually- better idea: what about a WCW specifically on Women in the Resistance?

    1. I literally just finished reading ‘A Woman of No Importance: the untold story of Virginia Hall, WW2’s most dangerous spy’, about an American woman who joined the British SOE (Special Operations Executive) and then the new American spy department, the OSS, Office of Strategic Services.
      She spent most of the war undercover in France, setting up and managing networks to help people escape or setting up groups to undertake sabotage.
      It was fascinating, and emphasised her personality and glamour.

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