Gumby's People > Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker was the premiere African-American female dancer of the 1920s, who added fame as a singer and a civil rights advocate over the course of a long career that stretched into the 1970s. After coming up as a chorus girl in touring companies and eventually on Broadway, Baker established her lasting worldwide fame when she moved to Paris in 1925 to be featured in La Revue Négre. In addition to introducing Baker to an international audience, this cabaret show also helped to influence a burgeoning European and American infatuation with art inspired by African diasporic culture--albeit one tinged with primitivist outlooks.
Baker further solidified her reputation in these circles with several other Paris-based revues during the 1920s and 1930s. Premier among these follow-up shows was La Folie du Jour, which included a dance for which Baker notoriously wore nothing but a girdle made out of bananas. This production is memorialized in the program that Gumby collected and mounted in his scrapbook devoted to Baker's long career. Baker's portrait is framed by a cut-out in the cover; the full image on the first interior page includes another of her risque outfits, this one composed of feathery boas.