Sarah Bernhardt – Divine Sarah
Sarah Bernhardt was the greatest actress in the history of the theatre. She fascinated audiences around the world.
Sarah Bernhardt (nee Henriette Rosine Bernard) was born on October 22, 1844 in Paris, France. Her mother, Julie Bernard, was a beautiful woman who had many lovers. Sarah never knew her father. There was no place in Julie’s life for Sarah.
Little Sarah lived with a nanny in England. She could stay there until the age of majority, if not an accident: the nanny had left Sarah alone with her husband, a disabled person, Sarah was able to get out of her chair and came too close to the fireplace, the dress caught fire. Neighbors saved her. At that time her mother Julie (or Judith) was travelling in Europe with her sponsor. She came to England and took Sarah to Paris. However, she soon left her daughter again. Sometime later Sarah fell down and broke her arm and leg. Finally her mother took the little girl.
Sarah was given to Madame Fressard School, where she spends two years. There she took part in the performances. During one of them Sarah suddenly saw her mother, who decided to visit the daughter. Sarah had had a nervous breakdown, she forgot all the text. Since then she had stage fright even during her worldwide fame.
In the fall of 1853 Sarah was sent to private school.
At the age of 13 years, Sarah entered the Le Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique (CNSAD). Alexander Dumas became her main teacher. The genius of artistic images taught Sarah how to create characters with gestures and voice.
On September 1, 1862, Sarah made her debut at the theater Comédie Française in the play Iphigenia by Jean Racine.
On December 22, 1864 Sarah gave birth to a son, Maurice, whose father was Henri, Prince de Ligne.
In 1869, Bernhardt had her first great success. She acted in a play called Le Passant (The Passerby), which played for over 100 nights. She was on her way to a brilliant career.
In 1905 during the tour in Rio de Janeiro Sarah injured her right leg, which had to be amputated in 1915. But, despite the injury, Sarah did not leave the stage activities. During the First World War, she performed at the front. In 1914 she was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor.
In 1922 she left the stage career. Her off-stage life was often just as harrowing as that of the characters she portrayed, with frequent bouts of physical ailments, financial difficulties, and numerous love affairs.
The actress died on March 26, 1923 in Paris at the age of 78. She is buried at the Pere Lachaise cemetery in the coffin she always took with her.
– One of the most beautiful and fragrant varieties of peonies is named after Sarah Bernhardt
– Bernhardt was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to the film industry.
– Sarah was always fascinated by death. She liked to walk around in cemeteries. She always kept a special coffin and placed it beside her bed. Sometimes she slept in it. She brought the coffin with her wherever she went.
– When she was 64 years old, she shocked audiences when she played 19-year-old Joan of Arc.
– Her unique voice was sometimes described as sounding like a “golden bell.”
– Bernhardt is best known in America for her famous ‘farewell tours’ that she made between 1880 and 1918.
Sarah Bernhardt – Divine Sarah
Some portraits of Sarah