‘Lovecraft Country’: The True Story of Josephine Baker

Lovecraft Nation Episode 7 was the trippiest episode but of the HBO present, with Hippolyta Freeman (performed by Aunjanue Ellis) heading via a crack in time and house and into what appeared to be a really Afrofuturist future. Simply as she obtained used to this unusual new future, nonetheless, she discovered herself on stage with none apart from Josephine Baker (Carra Paterson), the 1920s display icon.

Within the newest episode of Lovecraft Nation, we see Baker on stage in a nightclub in Paris, however dancing was simply one of many many issues the Missouri-born lady did in her 68 years on this earth. She was additionally the primary Black lady to star in a serious movement image, a medal-winning French Resistance agent and a civil rights activist.

Essentially the most enduring picture of Josephine Baker within the widespread tradition is the costume she used to put on whereas dancing in Paris’ Folies Bergère in 1927 (the identical 12 months she made her film debut): a skirt of synthetic bananas and a beaded brasserie. This outfit precipitated a sensation in Paris, the place she had moved in 1925 after a profitable profession within the U.S.

In America, she was named, “the highest-paid refrain lady in vaudeville” for her act, which noticed her pretending to mess up the routine all through the night time earlier than perfecting a extra complicated model of the dance on the encore.

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The true-life Josephine Baker acting on stage. ‘Lovecraft Nation’ Episode 7 paid tribute to the Black icon in a scene that noticed her dancing on-stage with Hippolyte.

Her success within the U.S. led to her touring in Paris, the place she would ultimately transfer and grow to be a citizen after marrying a French industrialist. She was so successful in pre-war Paris, in reality, that she made cash from skin-darkening and hair merchandise that allowed followers to emulate her look.

She grew to become so tied to France, in reality, that she labored within the Resistance throughout the Second World Warfare after the Nazis invaded the nation. She smuggled secret messages on her sheet music utilizing invisible ink, and hid Jewish refugees and weapons in her 24-room mansion within the southwest of France. After the battle, she received quite a few medals for her work within the Resistance, together with the Croix de Guerre, the Médaille de la Résistance, and was additionally made a part of the nation’s prestigious Légion d’Honneur.

Nonetheless, she additionally performed a component within the American Civil Rights motion. In the course of the March on Washington in 1963, for instance, she was the one official feminine speaker, and after Martin Luther King’s assassination, she was supplied a management place within the motion with she declined of fears for her kids’s security. She adopted a complete of 12 kids in her life, in addition to numerous unique pets together with a cheetah.

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In 1975, she celebrated 50 years in showbusiness with a revue financed by superstar followers like Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, with the opening night time attending by a whos-who of celebrities on the time together with Diana Ross, Mick Jagger and Liza Minelli.

4 days later, nonetheless, she could be lifeless of a cerebral hemorrhage, with biographers reporting she was present in a coma surrounded by optimistic opinions of her revue. She would later die in a Paris hospital on the age of 68.

At her funeral, 20,000 individuals got here onto the streets of Paris to observe the procession, and he or she was additionally the primary American lady buried in France with full army honors after she obtained a 21-gun salute.

Lovecraft Nation is way from the one piece of tradition to pay tribute to Baker. In 1991, Lynn Whitfield performed her within the HBO TV film The Josephine Baker Story, whereas artists like Rihanna, Beyonce and Diana Ross have paid tribute to her on stage.

Lovecraft Nation airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET / eight p.m. CT on HBO.

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