Remembering Josephine Baker: The Revered French Performer Who Doubled As A World War II Intelligence Gathering Spy

Josephine Baker, one of the most popular French entertainers of her day, led an impactful yet lesser-known secret life. The dancer and singer also doubled as a World War II spy.

Baker was born on June 3, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri, and, at the age of sixteen, she began touring with a Philadelphia dance troupe.

In the mid-1920s, Baker moved to New York City and starred in her first Broadway show before traveling to Paris in 1925.

Her career rapidly gained momentum overseas, making “Josephine Baker” a household name in France.

But, in 1937, the performer was approached by the Deuxiéme Bureau with an opportunity that could not have been more different than performing– intelligence gathering.

Baker took on the secret title of Honorable Correspondent and used her entertainment career as her key into neighboring European counties.

While hiding confidential documents beneath her clothes, Baker would cite performing tours as her alibi for travel. She would also flash her famous smile and tease border agents– all of whom fell victim to her gaze.

The entertainer was never suspected for a minute and gathered crucial information about Hitler’s uprising.

Henrie Manuel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; pictured above is Josephine

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