The Cross of War. (Croix de Guerre)
But she wasn’t about war. She was an entertainer.
“Bronze Venus”, “Black Pearl”, “Créole Goddess”
She was generous with her energy and her money.
But she was also a fighter against tyranny of any kind.
That included the Nazis and those who would deny her opportunity in her own country: The United States.
A unique and spectacular exotic dancer, Josephine Baker, a Performer Artisan, had moved to France in 1937 because she was accepted and rewarded as a brilliant entertainer despite her being of mixed race. She became a French citizen and was asked to spy for her new country when World War II broke out.
Baker immediately agreed, since she was against the Nazi stand on race, not only because she was black but because her husband was Jewish. Her café society fame enabled her to rub shoulders with those in-the-know, from high-ranking Japanese officials to Italian bureaucrats, and report back what she heard. She attended parties at the Italian embassy without any suspicion falling on her and gathered information. She helped in the war effort in other ways, such as by sending Christmas presents to French soldiers. When the Germans invaded France, Baker left Paris and went to the Château des Milandes, her home in the south of France, where she had Belgian refugees living with her and others who were eager to help the Free French effort led from England by Charles de Gaulle. As an entertainer, Baker had an excuse for moving around Europe, visiting neutral nations like Portugal, and returning to France. Baker assisted the French Resistance by smuggling secrets written in invisible ink on her sheet music.
After the war, for her underground activity, Baker received the Croix de guerre, the Rosette de la Résistance, and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. [Wikipedia]
Of Black, Indian, and White mixture, Josephine was eight years old when she was sent to work for a white woman who mistreated her. She dropped out of school at the age of twelve and lived on the street in the slums of St. Louis, often scavenging food from garbage cans. Her street-corner dancing attracted attention and she was recruited for the St. Louis Chorus vaudeville show at fifteen. On October 2, 1925, she opened in Paris where she became an instant success for her erotic dancing and for appearing practically nude on stage.
Although based in France, Baker supported the American Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s. She protested in her own way against racism, adopting 12 multi-ethnic orphans, whom she called the “Rainbow Tribe.” In addition, she refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States. Her insistence on mixed audiences helped to integrate shows in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Baker worked with the NAACP. In 1963, she spoke at the March on Washington at the side of Martin Luther King, Jr. Wearing her Free French uniform emblazoned with her medal of the Légion d’honneur, she was the only woman to speak at the rally. [Wikipedia]
She was generous with her energy and money to a fault. She became bankrupt because she couldn’t make enough money to support her spending on all her adoptions, employees, and homes.
Baker had 12 children through adoption. She bore only one child herself, stillborn in 1941, an incident which precipitated an emergency hysterectomy. Baker raised two daughters, French-born Marianne and Moroccan-born Stellina, and ten sons, Korean-born Akio, Japanese-born Jeannot (or Janot), Colombian-born Luis, Finnish-born Jari, French-born Jean-Claude and Noël, Israeli-born Moïse, Algerian-born Brahim, Ivorian-born Koffi, and Venezuelan-born Mara. For some time, Baker lived with her children and an enormous staff in a castle, Château de Milandes, in Dordogne, France, with her fourth husband Jo Bouillon (a french conductor) [Wikipedia]
Always generous, for she is brilliant example of a Performer Artisan.
Performers have the special ability, even among the Artisans, to delight those around them with their warmth, their good humor, and with their often extraordinary skills in music, comedy, and drama. Whether on the job, with friends, or with their families, Performers are exciting and full of fun, and their great social interest lies in stimulating those around them to take a break from work and worry, to lighten up and enjoy life.
Like the other Artisans, Performers are incurably optimistic – “Always look on the bright side,” is their motto — and they will avoid worries and troubles by ignoring them as long as possible. They are also the most generous of all the types, and second only to the Composer Artisans [ISFPs] in kindness. Performers haven’t a mean or stingy bone in their body-what’s theirs is yours-and they seem to have little idea of saving or conserving. They give what they have to one and all without expectation of reward, just as they love freely, and without expecting anything in return. In so many ways, Performers view life as an eternal cornucopia from which flows an endless supply of pleasures. [Please Understand Me II]
I love performing. I shall perform until the day I die. — Josephine Baker