Photo of Josephine Baker
CIRCA 1970: Photo of Josephine Baker  Michael Ochs Archives—This content is subject to copyright.

Google Doodle Celebrates Birthday of Jazz Icon Josephine Baker

Jun 03, 2017

Anyone who opened Google's homepage on Saturday was treated to an illustrated gallery of legendary jazz performer Josephine Baker, whose birthday is June 3.

The slideshow consisting of seven panels showcased various periods throughout the life of Baker, a world-famous dancer and singer who became the first person of African descent to star in a major motion picture.

"With her kohl-rimmed eyes and exotic costumes, Josephine Baker pounced onto the global stage in the 1920s, becoming a Jazz Age icon and one of the first internationally recognized African-American entertainers," an excerpt from Google's Doodle archive reads.

Born in St. Louis in 1906, Baker made her way to New York City at the dawn of the Harlem Renaissance before settling in Paris, where she became renowned for her cabaret performances before starring in Marc Allégret's 1934 film, Zouzou.

She fell in love with Paris and eventually renounced her U.S. citizenship to become a French national in 1937, but remained an outspoken proponent of African-Americans, refusing to perform for segregated audiences and working closely with the NAACP throughout the Civil Rights Movement.

She was one of the biggest celebrities in Europe and was often labeled as one of the most photographed women in the world at the peak of her career.

"There’s little doubt why Ernest Hemingway once called her 'the most sensational woman anybody ever saw—or ever will,'" Google's archive reads.

Baker died in Paris in 1975, but not before being awarded the Croix de Guerre — a military decoration bestowed to members of allied countries — and inducted into France’s prestigious Legion of Honour by legendary French General and President Charles de Gaulle.

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