Sarah Bernhardt

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Sarah Bernhardt
Born Sara-Marie-Henriette Rosine Bernardt
October 22, 1844(1844-10-22)[1]
Paris, France
Died March 26, 1923(1923-03-26) (aged 78)
Paris, France
Years active 1862–1923
Spouse Ambroise Aristide Damala (1882–1889)

Sarah Bernhardt (23 October 1844 – 26 March 1923) was a French stage actress, and has often been called "the most famous actress in the history of the world".[2] Bernhardt made her fame on the stages of Europe in the 1870s, and was soon working in Europe and the United States. She developed a reputation as a serious actress, getting the nickname "The Divine Sarah."

Early life[change | change source]

She was born in Paris as Marie Henriette Bernardt, the daughter of Julie Bernardt and a Dutch father. She added the letter "H" to her first and last name, and used the name of Edouard Bernardt, her mother's brother, as the name of her father. This was probably done to hide the fact that her father was unknown.

Career[change | change source]

Bernhardt's career started in 1862, when she was a student at the Comédie-Française. She was not very successful there, and left to become a courtesan by 1865. She became famous in Europe in the 1870s, and was soon in demand all over Europe and in New York.[3] She may have been the most famous actress of the 19th century.[4] She coached many young women in the art of acting, including Liane de Pougy.

Late career[change | change source]

Bernhardt's grave

In 1905, while performing in Rio de Janeiro, Bernhardt hurt her right knee during the final scene when she jumped from a high wall. The leg never healed properly, showing signs of bruising. By 1915, gangrene had set in and her entire right leg was amputated, meaning she was in a wheelchair for several months. Nonetheless, she continued her career. She carried out a successful tour of America in 1915, and died on returning to France.[5] On 26 March 1923, Bernhardt died of uremia following kidney failure. She is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.[6]

Sarah Bernhardt has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1751 Vine Street.

Books[change | change source]

  • Dans les Nuages, Impressions d'une Chaise Charpentier (1878)
  • L'Aveu, drame en un acte en prose (1888)
  • Adrienne Lecouvreur, drame en six actes (1907)
  • Ma Double Vie (1907), & as My Double Life:Memoirs of Sarah Bernhardt, (1907) William Heinemann
  • Un Coeur d'Homme, pièce en quatre actes (1911)
  • Petite Idole (1920; as The Idol of Paris, 1921)
  • L'Art du Théâtre: la voix, le geste, la prononciation, etc. (1923; as The art of the Theatre, 1924)
  • Sarah Bernhardt My Grandmother (1940)

Roles[change | change source]

Sarah Bernhardt - 1899
As Hamlet
Sarah Bernhardt, in a portrait, 1890s.
  • 1862: Racine's Iphigénie in the title rôle, her debut.
  • 1862: Eugène Scribe's Valérie
  • 1862: Molière's Les Femmes Savantes
  • 1864: Labiche & Deslandes, Un Mari qui Lance sa Femme
  • 1866: T & H Cognard's La Biche aux Bois
  • 1866: Racine's Phèdre (as Aricie)
  • 1866: Pierre de Marivaux's Le Jeu de l'Amour et du Hasard (as Silvia)
  • 1867: Molière's Les Femmes Savantes (as Armande)
  • 1867: George Sand's Le Marquis de Villemer
  • 1867: Georges Sand's "François le Champi" (as Mariette)
  • 1868: Dumas père Kean (as Anna Damby)
  • 1869: Coppée's La Passant, as a male troubador (Zanetto); her first major stage success
  • 1870: George Sand's L'Autre
  • 1871: Theuriet's Jeanne-Marie
  • 1871: Coppée's Fais ce que Dois
  • 1871: Foussier and Edmond La Baronne
  • 1872: Bouilhet's Mademoiselle Aïssé
  • 1872: Hugo's Ruy Blas (as Doña Maira de Neubourg, Queen of Spain)
  • 1872: Dumas père Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle (as Gabrielle)
  • 1872: Racine's Britannicus (as Junie)
  • 1872: Beaumarchais's Le Mariage de Figaro
  • 1872: Sandeau's Mademoiselle de la Seiglière
  • 1873: Feuillet's Dalila (as Princess Falconieri)
  • 1873: Ferrier's Chez l'Avocat
  • 1873: Racine's Andromaque
  • 1873: Racine's Phèdre (as Aricie)
  • 1873: Feuillet's Le Sphinx
  • 1874: Voltaire's Zaire
  • 1874: Racine's Phèdre (as Phèdre)
  • 1875: Bornier's La Fille de Roland
    • Dumas fils' L'Étrangère (as Mrs. Clarkson)
    • Parodi's Rome Vaincue
  • 1877: Hugo's Hernani (as Doña Sol)
  • 1879: Racine's Phèdre (as Phèdre)
  • 1880: Émile Augier's L'Aventurière
  • 1880: Legouvé & Scribe's Adrienne Lecouvreur
  • 1880: Meilhac & Halévy's Froufrou
  • 1880: Dumas fils' La Dame aux Camélias (as Maguerite)
  • 1882: Sardou's Fédora
    • Sardou's Théodora (as Theodora, Empress of Byzantium)
  • 1887 : La Tosca de Victorien Sardou
    • Dumas fils' La Princesse Georges
  • 1890: Sardou's Cléopâtre, as Cleopatra
  • 1893: Lemaître's Les Rois
  • 1894: Sardou's Gismonda
  • 1895: Molière's Amphytrion
  • 1895: Magda(translation of Sudermann's Heimat)
  • 1896: La Dame aux Camélias
  • 1896: Musset's Lorenzaccio (as Lorenzino de' Medici)
  • 1897: Sardou's Spiritisme
  • 1897: Rostand's La Samaritaine
  • 1898: Catulle Mendès Medée
  • 1898: La Dame aux Camélias (as Marguerite Gautier)
  • 1899: Shakespeare's Hamlet (as Hamlet)
    • Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra (as Cleopatra)
    • Shakespeare's Macbeth (as Lady Macbeth) (in French)
    • Richepin's Pierrot Assassin (as Pierrot)
  • 1900: Rostand's L'Aiglon as L'Aiglon
  • 1903: Sardou's La Sorcière
  • 1904: Maeterlinck's Pelléas et Mélisande (as Pelléas)
  • 1906: Ibsen's The Lady From the Sea
  • 1906: Mendès' La Vierge d'Avila (as Saint Theresa)
  • 1911: Moreau's Queen Elizabeth (as Queen Elizabeth)
  • 1913: Bernard's Jeanne Doré (as Jeanne Doré)

References[change | change source]

  1. She was baptised in 1857, when was about 12, but the record is missing. A birth date taken from a certificate of a baptism conducted at the age of 12 would not be reliable as a primary source, and could only be used to corroborate other evidence. (In The Art of High Drama, a Professor Ockman describes finding an "unidentified newspaper clipping" in the Bibliothèque de la Comédie Francaise in Paris, which included a copy of a baptismal certificate saying Bernhardt was born on 25 September 1844.) It has been claimed that "Bernhardt sometimes celebrated her birthday on 23 October", although there is no verification of this claim. Bernhardt’s 1907 autobiography Ma double vie (My Double Life) made no reference to her date of birth.
  2. Gottlieb, Robert. "The Drama of Sarah Bernhardt". http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20151. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  3. "Internet Broadway Database credits for Mme. Sarah Bernhardt". http://www.ibdb.com/person.asp?ID=9688. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  4. Golden, Eve. "From Stage to Screen: The Film Career of Sarah Bernhardt". http://www.classicimages.com/1997/june/bernhard.html. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  5. "New International Encyclopedia". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_International_Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  6. "Find a Grave entry for Sarah Bernhardt". http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1333. Retrieved 2007-10-18.

Other websites[change | change source]