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Josephine Baker button. From the collection of Phil Shimkin.

A favorite movie button -- Josephine Baker in her 1927 movie debut "Siren of the Tropics." Pictured with Josephine is her manager/lover Count Pepito Abatino. He was no "Count" at all, but a Sicilian stonemason and con man. But he did push Josephine into movies, although she never made it big as a movie star in America. 

Alongside the button is a photo of Josephine and Pepito taken same day, same place, same drink -- at a theatre in Paris in 1927 -- which is neat. 

"Siren of the Tropics" is mostly laughable now, but it does feature Josephine at the height of her career when she created a sensation in Paris at the Folies Bergere during the Roaring Twenties. The movie has her dancing the Charleston and it's pretty clear why Hemingway called her the most fascinating woman he'd ever seen. Josephine was born in St. Louis and eventually returned to America, where she joined the Civil Rights movement. Coretta Scott King even asked her to assume leadership of the movement after Dr. King was assassinated, but she declined.

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