Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker illustration by Bridget Finnegan

1906 – 1975

Josephine Baker was a blur of sequins, satin and sometimes, shockingly, nothing at all.

The “Creole Goddess” of Paris escaped at least one early marriage by joining a traveling vaudeville act, eventually landing in New York to star in the hugely successful Broadway show Shuffle Along. Europe called and she never looked back. She became a French citizen and was even awarded the Croix de Guerre for her wartime activities with the French resistance.

When I decided to to a book about amazing women, Josephine immediately came to mind. I mean, duh! Her stunning costumes and love of fashion combined with her exotic pets and “rainbow tribe” of adopted children made her a perfect choice for a coloring book. My only complaint is that I had to limit her to one spread. Josephine would definitely not have liked that. She would not be contained!Josephine Baker in her banana dress. Illustration by Bridget Finnegan

 

I started out with her in her infamous banana dress (at right), but soon realized that one outfit was not enough. The obvious solution! Paper dolls. You want to see more? You’ll need to buy the book. 🙂

Lynn Haney’s terrific book, Naked at the Feast tells Josephine’s story in a lively honest way. She was not without her foibles. You don’t get to be a superstar without leaving a few husbands in your wake and stepping on a few toes. Much like her pet cheetah (NOT pictured below…that’s a dead tiger…really), she did a bit of clawing to get to the top.

Josephine Baker poses on a tiger rug

Josephine and a dead tiger.