Sarah Bernhardt

Sarah Bernhardt

Original Name Henriette Rosine Bernard
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Death 26 Mar 1923 (aged 78)
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Burial Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Plot Division 44, #6
Memorial ID 1333 · View Source
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Actress. Also known as The Divine Sarah. Born Henriette Rosine Bernard the child of Dutch courtesan, Julie Bernard, she was the eldest of three illegitimate daughters, and though it is not clear who her father was, speculation often names a young student called Morel. The presence of children interfered with her mother's preferred lifestyle, so she spent her childhood in a pension, cared for by a hired nurse, and in Grandchamp Augustine convent school near Versailles. When she turned sixteen, her mother’s protector, Charles Duc de Morny, sent her to the Conservatoire de Musique et Déclamation in Paris, to study for a career in the theater. She came to regard the Conservatoire’s methods as antiquated. In 1862, she adopted the stage name of Sarah, and was accepted by the national theatre company Comédie-Française and debuted in the title role of Racine’s 'Iphigénie.' In 1863 she proceeded to the Théâtre du Gymnase-Dramatique, but was dissatisfied with the small parts she received. In 1868, she had her first public and critical success in Alexandre Dumas’ 'Kean,' followed buy a portrayal of Cordelia in 'King Lear,' and a great triumph as the minstrel boy in 'Le Passant.' In 1872, the Comédie Française attracted by her success, invited her back, and she became an undisputed star with her portrayals of 'Phèdre' (1874) and Doña Sol in Hugo’s 'Hernani' (1877). She played Desdemona in Othello in 1878, and again, when the Comédie-Française appeared in London in 1879. In 1880, she formed her own traveling company, touring in Europe and in the United States. The tour was a great success. In 1882 Sarah met Aristidis Damala, a Greek army officer. They married at St. Andrew’s in London at the end of Bernhardt’s successful European tour. Her fame at it's peak, she received honors from King Umberto of Italy, Alfonso XII of Spain, Austrian emperor Franz Joseph, and Czar Alexander III. In 1891, she undertook a world tour that included Australia and South America. Returning to France in 1893, she was the wealthiest and most publicized actress of her day. That same year, she became the manager of the Théâtre de la Renaissance, and in 1899 she relocated to the former Théâtre des Nations, which she renamed the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt. She had made notable appearances as Hamlet in Paris and London in 1899, and as François-Joseph Bonaparte in 'L’Aiglon' (1900). She was one of the first women known to have performed the title role in Hamlet. In 1905, during a South American tour, she injured her right knee when jumping off the parapet in the last scene of La Tosca. Nearly a decade later, the injury became infected and gangrenous; and her leg had to be amputated. She again left for America in October 1910. She appeared in several silent films, but her only success was in the title role in 'Elizabeth Queen of England' in 1912. In 1914, she was made a Chevalier of France’s Legion of Honor. After the loss of her leg, she insisted on visiting the soldiers at the front during the 1st World War, carried in a litter chair. In 1916, she began her last tour of the United States, running to 18 months on the road. In November 1918, she returned to France, only to set out on a European tour, playing parts she could perform while seated. New roles were provided for her by several playwrights that catered to her physical needs. In the fall of 1922, she gave a benefit performance to raise money for Madame Curie’s laboratory. She later collapsed during the dress rehearsal of the play 'Un Sujet de roman' but recovered sufficiently to take an interest in the motion picture, 'La Voyante', which was being filmed in her house in Paris shortly before her death. She was the author of an autobiography, 'My Double Life: Memoirs of Sarah Bernhardt,' (1907), a novel, 'Petite Idole,' (1920), and a treatise on acting, 'L’Art du théâtre' (1923).

Bio by: Iola

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1333
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sarah Bernhardt (22 Oct 1844–26 Mar 1923), Find a Grave Memorial no. 1333, citing Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .