She defined Paris at the time. Hemingway said that she was “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.” Picasso claimed that she was “tall, coffee skin, ebony eyes, legs of paradise, a smile to end all smiles.” During this period, she was said to have taken dozens of lovers and, remarkably, not in a way that people were slut-shaming her for doing so. She wasn’t seen as being a sad tramp, she was kind of seen as being, well . . . Samantha from Sex and the City. One lover remarked, “‘She didn’t need conversation. Sex was like champagne to her. It would last 20 minutes, perhaps an hour, but it was body to body the whole time.”
Once, she was said to appear at a party wearing an elegant fur coat, and nothing at all underneath.
I feel like every woman who has ever been a sex symbol has tried that move, but, you know, it never really gets old. Neither does letting your bikini top fall off while you’re out swimming. (Josephine didn’t need to do that because she was all topless, all the time.)
Seriously, someone should tell Kate Middleton that it is fine.
And she loved animals! Her dressing room was filled with pets – there were rabbits, dogs, and one pig which she would spray with expensive perfume. And there was, of course, her pet leopard, who wore a diamond collar, and sometimes performed onstage with her.
During this wonderful period she also performed in three silent movies - Siren of the Tropics (1927), Zouzou (1934) and Princesse Tam Tam (1935). And she became a successful singer, popularizing the song ”J’ai deux amours”.
She also bought a chateau explaining, “Since I personify the savage on stage, I tried to be as civilized as possible in daily life.”
They were great years. Then, in 1935, secure in her success, she went back to perform in New York.