Sarah Bernhardt a legend and a name in history
Sarah Bernhardt a legend and a name in history. From the great actors remains not much, posters and newspaper reviews, pictures and memories. But a few remain a legend and a name in history. And one of the most brilliant theatrical legends was Sarah Bernhardt, the greatest actress of European history. She was called great and gorgeous, Sweetheart and Mademoiselle Riot. The theater became for her not just a profession, but also the way of life. When she was 56 years old, she played the role of twenty-year-old Duke of Reichstadt, son of Napoleon, written specially for her. At the age of seventy Sarah played a 13-year-old Juliet.
The birth of Rosine (Sarah) was doomed to be different from generally accepted norms. Her mother Julie Bernardt (more precisely, Judith van Hard, in whose veins were mixed Jewish and Dutch blood) was actually a Parisian courtesan, very beautiful, very young and very expensive. Julie was only sixteen years old when she gave birth to her first daughter, on October 22, 1844. About the father of the future celebrity researchers still argue. Some think it was Edward Bernardt (an engineer, or a law student), others with no less confidence — naval officer Maurice Bernard.
The girl was ugly, weak and nervous. July didn’t have desire and maternal feelings, and baby on centuries-old custom was given away to the nurse in the village. Nurse loved her baby, but the heart of the Rosine was given to her mother — in a rare meeting Julie arose before the daughter “like Madonna”. In order to somehow keep the mother next door, five-year-old girl jumped from the window: she broke her arm and injured her knee, but stayed by her mum for two years, Julie settled her in her house.
And then Rosine was again sent — at first to Madame Frassar Guest House and then to the Guest House at the monastery of Grand-Champ. The girl had a violent temper tantrums, the restless, she brought many problems to the good nuns. Four times Rozina was sent to her mother — and again came back. At the age of fourteen Rosine sincerely believed that her destiny was to become a nun.
However, Julie herself had another view: she thought her profession very profitable and expected her three daughters, Rosine, Jeanne and Regina to follow her steps. One of Julie’s noble lovers Charles de Morny advised the young Rosine to start stage career — and not without his patronage was accepted in the Conservatory in Paris.
Rosine Bernhardt didn’t fit for the stage, she was very thin (and at that time valued women with forms), but she attracted attention with her golden hair and enormous, aquamarine, deep, very expressive yes. And her talent was noticed the first year of tuition: at annual competition Rosine received two awards: the first in response to the tragic role and the second – for the comic.
At her eighteen Bernhardt was credited (by the patronage of Alexandre Dumas, and de Morny) by the famous theater of France — the “Comedie Francaise”, also known as the House of Moliere. Theater director sighed: “she is too skinny to be an actress!”
Sarah Bernhardt debuted on September 1, 1862, since that time this name has become the history. The newspapers wrote about the debutante, “a tall, slender girl, with pleasant appearance, especially beautiful from her upper part of the face, who has perfect diction. This is all that could be said about her at the moment”. A few years later the writer of this review Francois Sarse became famous as he first revealed the talent of the great Bernard.
The young actress got the first fans. With recommendation letter from Alexandre Dumas in 1864, Sarah goes to Brussels where the ball meets the Duke Henry de Linn, representative of
the highest European nobility. He fell in love with Sarah at first sight. The young man was even ready to marry on the condition that Sarah would abandon the stage. She agreed, but the noble family of the Duke persuaded her not to spoil his life.
She broke up with Henry, explaining to him that cannot imagine life without theater. And December 22, 1864, Sarah had a son Maurice, who stayed the only man for Sarah’s life.
Sarah Bernhardt never told who the father of her son was: she answered journalists’ questions, as she doesn’t remember — whether Victor Hugo, or General Boulanger … Many years later Duke proposed to adopt Maurice Bernardt and give him his name, he refused: Bernhardt’s name was more famous and glorious than any Belgian Dukes’.
Sarah Bernhardt has signed a contract with the famous Odeon theater, which quickly became a home for her: “I loved this theater more than others. Yeah, I could live there. Moreover, only here I feel really good”, she wrote later in her memoirs. Bernard constantly rehearses, heavily working on new roles — and success follows by success.
But the road to fame was broken — and not by the fault of Bernhardt. In July 1870, the Franco-Prussian War, and already in September German troops laid siege to Paris. Sarah sent her family away from the front line, and she remained in the city, Odeon was turned into a hospital, and she gladly played the role of nurse helping doctors. One of volunteers 19-year-old Ferdinand Foch, in 1915, he had the rank of Marshal, will accompany the great Bernhardt to the fronts of World War I.
Bernhardt was one of the most talented, deep and strong actresses of her time, her acting was perfect, mesmerizing voice, full of passion, that Dumas had compared with the crystal clear stream on the Golden pebbles “, sculpted hand movements, expressive back. Sweeping tear drop — one after another only on right cheek — caused a storm in the Hall.
When the fashion was symmetry and tight skirts – Sarah Bernhardt appeared at balls in a pure white dress or in dresses with wide skirts in the style of the 17th century. Her figure, elongated face became a model of beauty for the new style of modern, “Art Nouveau”.
In the “Odeon” Sarah Bernhardt played five years from 1867 to 1872. It was a period of continuous triumphs. Her every word, every move, every meeting immediately appeared in the newspapers. They said that she had a thousand lovers, about her amorous adventures was written a book — “The love of Sarah Bernhardt”, she was said to seduce all the heads of European States, including the Pope.
Sure, there was an exaggeration, but there is evidence that Sarah had a very close relationship with the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), and nephew of Emperor Napoleon. There was a shower of gifts from Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, the King of Spain Alfonso, Russian Emperor Alexander III, King of Italy, Umberto, the Danish King gave her full disposal of your yacht, and Duke Frederick – an ancestral Castle. Sarah herself modestly writing about herself that she was “one of the great mistresses of her time”.
The most famous people of the time worshiped her – Victor Hugo and Edmond Rostand, Emile Zola and Alexandre Dumas son not only felt it an honor to write the play specifically for Bernard but admired her as a woman. All theatrical partners, rumored to have been in love with her, and many of them became her lovers
Her mother’s lessons were not in vain: she skillfully captured men but in a memoir she wrote: “my mother’s House was always full of men, and the more I saw, the less I liked it.”
She began taking lessons from sculptor and was so absorbed that a couple of times even forgot about performances, carried away by a molding. In 1873, she had submitted to the Paris Salon the bust of her work, and in 1876, even won a prize for sculpture group “after the storm” — the work was bought for 10 million francs. The renowned Auguste Rodin recognized her talent as a sculptor, but said that her work is quite archaic, and the audience appreciates them simply because their author as Sarah Bernhardt. But talented Sarah was just talented in everything she did. She was also a good painter.
During the world fair 1878, Sarah Bernhardt dared to fly in a balloon, taking with her a basket with breakfast and a bottle of champagne. Sarah was happy, then she will describe it in the short story “The clouds”. The first literary experience was so successful that Sarah didn’t leave literature.
The rooms of her house were inhabited by four dogs, a boa constrictor, monkey, cockatoos, Cheetah and White Wolf-dog — the last two Sarah has purchased on the money raised from the sale of her paintings in England. Once in one of the cold winters she bought bread for two thousand francs to feed the hungry sparrows in Paris.
One of the versions was that this coffin was intended for her younger sister Regina, who died young, but it didn’t fit in size. The other version, she, being a child asked her mother to buy her coffin as she had poor health. Bernhardt was said to frequently sleep in it, received visitors and even made love, checking the fortress of nerves and senses of her new sweethearts! Sarah also told this unexpected place inspires her, helping her feel the depth of dying images of her heroines …
Dumas’s son was so impressed with her acting, that he sobbed. Sarah was dying over three thousand times! Hugo wrote her a letter: “Madame! You were adorable in your greatness. You actually got me, an old fighter. I started to cry.” The letter was attached to a diamond bracelet. She realized that she was the greatest actress of the era, and it was the same self-evident fact, like that Queen Victoria owns the English Crown.
In 1881, she first appeared in Russia — then she was in Russia twice more times. Here, in addition to the expected triumphs happened something quite unexpected: diplomat Jacques Damala fell in love with Sarah Bernhardt. Greek by origin, he was very handsome, charming and knew how to please women, contemporaries said about him he is a cross between Casanova and Marquis de Sade. Damala not only enjoyed women but also enjoyed his power over them. It’s hard to explain, but Sarah was so in love with him that even agreed to marry him. She was paying for his debts, he was a player, addicted to cocaine and morphine, tried to heal from addictions. Marriage was doomed from the start, survived a year. However, Sara continued to patronize the former spouse until his death, which occurred in 1889.
From any depression she knew only one recipe — work. Sarah worked day and night, leaving no time to doubt herself, nor to rest. Constant touring, performances and triumphs followed one after another. Bernard has traveled throughout America, Europe and Asia, was in Australia and even on the Sandwich Islands! Her performances did not need translation — critics rightly noted that viewers understand the great actress, even if she spoke in Chinese.
When the first world war began, Sara again failed to stay away, traveling with concerts on all fronts, and in 1914 she was awarded the highest French award the Legion of honor.
It was the evening of March 26, 1923. Sarah Bernhardt died from uremia following kidney failure, a doctor solemnly announced that to the gathered on the street crowd, she was 78 years old.
Sarah Bernhardt a legend and a name in history