When a US minister denounced Bernhardt for having a child out of wedlock, she shot back, “Had my child been a clergyman’s probably he would have been strangled at birth.” An 1880 letter to the editor about the incident noted, with some satisfaction, “It is quite evident that Sarah Bernhardt is able to take care of herself.”. We thought only of putting on plays. Without interrupting her speech, she added "If someone doesn't close that door I will catch pneumonia." She played the role more than a thousand times, and acted regularly and successfully in it until the end of her life. In 1878, during the Paris Universal Exposition, she took a flight over Paris with balloonist Pierre Giffard and painter George Clairin, in a balloon decorated with the name of her current character, Dona Sol. Although she was welcomed by theater-goers, she was entirely ignored by New York high society, who considered her personal life scandalous. According to these versions, he learned her address from the theater, arrived in Paris, and moved into the apartment with Bernhardt. That is all that can be said about her at the moment. It kept its name until the occupation of Paris by the Germans in World War II,[214] when, because of Bernhardt's Jewish ancestry, the name was changed to Théâtre de la Cité. I planted the French verb in the heart of a foreign literature, and it is that of which I am most proud. Paris was cut off from news and from its food supply, and the theaters were closed. [62], Bernhardt repaired her old relationships with the other members of the Comédie Française; she participated in a benefit for Madame Nathalie, the actress she had once slapped. Her original birth certificate was destroyed when the Paris Commune burned the Hotel de Ville and city archives in May 1871. Her sculpture teacher was Mathieu-Meusnier, an academic sculptor who specialized in public monuments and sentimental storytelling pieces. When she returned by train to the city, Perrin was furious; he fined Bernhardt a thousand francs, citing a theater rule which required actors to request permission before they left Paris. She told her friends that she married because marriage was the only thing she had never experienced. "[146], In 1922, she began rehearsing a new play by Sacha Guitry, called Un Sujet de Roman. [68], Back in Paris, she was increasingly discontented with Perrin and the management of the Comédie Française. [103] She then performed another traditional melodrama, Francillon by Alexandre Dumas, fils in 1888. The diction, the way of standing, the look, the gesture are predominant in the development of the career of an artist. Bernhardt was diagnosed with uremia, and had to have an emergency kidney operation. This was produced by Eclipse and directed by Louis Mercanton and René Hervil from the play by Tristan Bernard. The play premiered on 16 January 1872. Later, however, when the Comédie Française theater was nearly destroyed by fire, she allowed her old troupe to use her own theater. She sang, yes, sang with her melodious voice..."[174], Victor Hugo was a fervent admirer of Bernhardt, praising her "golden voice". An English translation was published in 1925.[168]. [79] She crisscrossed the United States and Canada from Montreal and Toronto to Saint Louis and New Orleans, usually performing each evening, and departing immediately after the performance. Bernhardt wrote that she was "confused, sorry, and delighted—because he loved me the way people love in plays at the theater. Today it may seem inconceivable that a stage actor could attain this level of fame, but in the 19th century — before film, before radio, before the internet — theater was the only game in town. Duquesnel described the reading years later, saying, "I had before me a creature who was marvelous gifted, intelligent to the point of genius, with enormous energy under an appearance frail and delicate, and a savage will." Offstage and on, Bernhardt demonstrated the star’s power over herself, over her audiences, over the media, and over a society whose norms she openly defied. "[106], Bernhardt in Gismonda by Victorien Sardou (1894), Poster for Gismonda by Alphonse Mucha (1894), As Melissande in La Princesse Lointaine by Edmond Rostand (1897), Bernhardt made a two-year world tour (1891–1893) to replenish her finances. [141], She returned to Paris on 15 October, and, despite the loss of her leg, continued to go on stage at her theater; scenes were arranged so she could be seated, or supported by a prop with her leg hidden. These are American rates, and I don't have to cross the Atlantic! Perrin and the Minister of Fine Arts arranged a compromise; she withdrew her resignation, and in return was raised to a societaire, the highest rank of the theater. British author D.H. Lawrence saw Bernhardt perform La Dame aux Camelias in 1908. Die Identität ihres Vaters ist unbekannt. Then, in 1912, the pioneer American producer Adolph Zukor came to London and filmed her performing scenes from her stage play Queen Elizabeth with her lover Tellegen, with Bernhardt in the role of Lord Essex. Bernhardt was a Roman Catholic, and did not want to divorce him. She was cast in highly stylized and frivolous 18th-century comedies, whereas her strong point on stage was her complete sincerity. Die Masse in einen Spritzbeutel mit Lochtülle füllen und 40 ca. Never content to play only to type, Bernhardt challenged herself well into old age. "[38] Many years later, in January 1885, when Bernhardt was famous, the Prince came to Paris and offered to formally recognize Maurice as his son, but Maurice politely declined, explaining he was entirely satisfied to be the son of Sarah Bernhardt. Bilder, 20 Her motto, "Quand même" (all the same, despite everything), signified that, whatever happened, she would not be defeated. Perrin sued her for breach of contract; the court ordered her to pay 100,000 francs, plus interest, and she lost her accrued pension of 43,000 francs. Shortly before the tour began, a British theater impresario named Edward Jarrett traveled to Paris and proposed that she give private performances in the homes of wealthy Londoners; the fee she would receive for each performance was greater than her monthly salary with the Comédie. She was one of six children, five daughters and one son, of a Dutch-Jewish itinerant eyeglass merchant, Moritz Baruch Bernardt, and a German laundress,[193] Sara Hirsch (later known as Janetta Hartog or Jeanne Hard). The existing Open Comments threads will continue to exist for those who do not subscribe to [58] In 1873, with just 74 hours to learn the lines and practice the part, she played the lead in Racine's Phédre, playing opposite the celebrated tragedian, Jean Mounet-Sully, who soon became her lover. [77][78] From New York, she made a side trip to Menlo Park, where she met Thomas Edison, who made a brief recording of her reciting a verse from Phèdre, which has not survived. She took the play and other famous scenes from her repertory on a European tour and then for her last tour of England, where she gave a special command performance for Queen Mary, followed by a tour of the British provinces. Start your Independent Premium subscription today. [8], When Bernhardt was seven, her mother sent her to a boarding school for young ladies in the Paris suburb of Auteuil, paid with funds from her father's family. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. The audience gave her a standing ovation, showered her with flowers, and demanded that she recite the song two more times. [64] When Perrin read in the press about the private performances, he was furious. She also announced that she would not be available to begin until 1882. The patients had to be moved to the cellar, and before long, the hospital was forced to close. Columnists joked that she was too small-breasted to need to get anything off her chest. Then she embarked on her final American farewell tour. Doucet recommended her to Edouard Thierry, the chief administrator of the Théâtre Français,[23] who offered Bernhardt a place as a pensionnaire at the theater, at a minimum salary. She also starred in a new play, Daniel, written by her grandson-in-law, playwright Louis Verneuil. She was supposed to recite verses from Racine, but no one had told her that she needed someone to give her cues as she recited. The two leading actors both fell ill with yellow fever, and her long-time manager, Edward Jarrett, died of a heart attack. Anyone who wanted their own image of her could order several cheaply through the mail. [148] The following day, 30,000 people attended her funeral to pay their respects, and an enormous crowd followed her casket from the Church of Saint-Francoise-de-Sales to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, pausing for a moment of silence outside her theater. By choosing I Accept, you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies. "[115], The Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt (now the Théâtre de la Ville)(c. 1905), Despite her successes, her debts continued to mount, reaching two million gold francs by the end of 1898. A few months after it opened, Bernhardt received an invitation from Emile Perrin, Director of the Comédie Française, asking if she would return, and offering her 12,000 francs a year, compared with less than 10,000 at the Odéon. [112], In April 1895, she played the lead role in a romantic and poetic fantasy, Princess Lointaine, by little-known 27-year-old poet Edmond Rostand. In 1878, she responded to a newspaper’s speculations about her true hair color by commenting, “I regret that I cannot prove that I am a natural blonde.” When she didn’t like how articles presented her, she dashed off testy letters and telegrams telling her side of the story. [109], In five years, Bernhardt produced nine plays, three of which were financially successful. The theater had 1,700 seats, twice the size of the Renaissance, enabling her to pay off the cost of performances more quickly; it had an enormous stage and backstage, allowing her to present several different plays a week; and since it was originally designed as a concert hall, it had excellent acoustics. Bernhardt's biographer described him as "handsome as Adonis, insolent, vain, and altogether despicable. "[13] That contrasted her answer "No, never. Mandeln We rehearsed mornings, afternoons, all the time. The family of the Prince sent his uncle, General de Ligne, to break up the romance, threatening to disinherit him if he married Bernhardt. It was not a monetary success and lost 200,000 francs, but it began a long theatrical relationship between Bernhardt and Rostand. "[189], A more recent biography by Helene Tierchant (2009) suggests her father may have been a young man named De Morel, whose family members were notable shipowners and merchants in Le Havre. Oh, to see her, and to hear her, a wild creature, a gazelle with a beautiful panther's fascination and fury, laughing in musical French, screaming with true panther cry, sobbing and sighing like a deer sobs, wounded to the death... She is not pretty, her voice is not sweet, but there is the incarnation of wild emotion that we share with all living things..."[184], The identity of Bernhardt's father is not known for certain. Her first performances with the theater were not successful.

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