olddognewtriks:

historical-babes:

Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923).

French stage actress.

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She starred in some of the most popular French plays of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She also played male roles, including Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Rostand called her “the queen of the pose and the princess of the gesture”, while Hugo praised her “golden voice”. She made several theatrical tours around the world, and was one of the first prominent actresses to make sound recordings and to act in motion pictures.

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She entered the Paris Conservatoire when she was 16. She left the in 1862 and was then accepted by the national theatre company, the Comédie-Française. Her contract with the Comédie-Française was canceled in 1863 after she slapped the face of a senior actress who had been rude to her younger sister.

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She then entered a period of soul-searching, questioning her talent for acting. During these critical months she became the mistress of Henri, prince de Ligne, and gave birth to her only child, Maurice. From 1864 to 1866, she frequently had trouble finding roles. She often worked as a courtesan, taking wealthy and influential lovers.

Later, Bernhardt was married to a Greek military-officer-turned-actor, Jacques Damala, but the marriage was short-lived, he died of drug abuse. Damala was incredibly cruel to her and delighted in humiliating her.

Throughout her life she had a series of affairs or liaisons with famous men.

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In 1866 Bernhardt signed a contract with the Odéon theatre and, during six years of intensive work with a congenial company there, gradually established her reputation.

During the Franco-German War in 1870, she organized a military hospital in the Odéon theatre.

In 1872 Bernhardt left the Odéon and returned to the Comédie-Française, where at first she received only minor parts.

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Bernhardt had become an expressive actress with a wide emotional range who was capable of great subtlety in her interpretations. Her grace, beauty, and charisma gave her a commanding stage presence, and the impact of her unique voice was reinforced by the purity of her diction. Her career was also helped by her relentless self-promotion and her unconventional behaviour both on and off the stage.

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In 1880, Bernhardt formed her own traveling company and soon became an international idol.

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In 1905, during a South American tour, she had injured her right knee when jumping off the parapet in the last scene of La Tosca. By 1915 gangrene had set in, and her leg had to be amputated. Undaunted, the patriotic Bernhardt insisted on visiting the soldiers at the front during World War I while carried about in a litter chair.

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In 1922, she began rehearsing a new play. On the night of the dress rehearsal, she collapsed, going into a coma for an hour, then awakened with the words, “when do I go on?” She recuperated for several months, with her condition improving.

She died from uremia.

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Famous roles:

La Dame Aux Camelias

Ruy Blas

Fédora

La Tosca

L’Aiglon

Hamlet

[Submission]

Very beautiful woman. My father saw her perform twice and said she was one of the true greats. We should never forget the tallented gifts these actors bring to the stage for our pleasure.

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