Fredonia Shakespeare Club Hears About “Madame Sarah” | News, Sports, Jobs

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The Fredonia Shakespeare Club recently heard a presentation on Divine Madame Sarah.

Little Sarah Bernhardt was a frail and sickly child. She was dangerously thin and prone to fits of anger and rage. And yet she became “The Divine Madame Sarah”, hailed as perhaps the greatest actress of her generation of all time.

As a teenager, Sarah announced that she had decided to take the veil and live the life of a convent. But a family friend asked: “Why not make the child an actress?” Sarah’s first trip to the theater was a life-changing event.

The room that put Sarah on the map was called “The passer.” Throughout his career, representations of men, like Hamlet, brought him success, but also scandals.

The curtain fell on Sarah’s burgeoning career when, on July 19, 1870, Napoleon III declared war on Prussia.

Sarah was heroic throughout the war. She found the strength to participate in shows benefiting the war effort, spending sleepless nights with the wounded, and comforting the dying on frozen battlefields.

After the war, it was not easy to regain its former glory. Victor Hugo helped revive his career by giving him the lead of his play.

His success was matched only by his phenomenal extravagance. The more money she earned, the more debt she created.

In 1905, in her early sixties, Sarah embarked on a long tour of the Americas. It was a brave endeavor, as her right knee had been hampering her for some time and she had difficulty walking.

Shortly after arriving, she had an accident in Rio de Janeiro. Machinists failed to place thick mattresses behind a set, and Sarah landed on bare planks when her character threw herself to death from a parapet. The leg caused her problems for years, becoming immobile and eventually it turned into gangrene and had to be cut.

Sarah tried on wooden legs, none of which suited her. Finally, she had the wooden leg thrown out and she designed a sedan chair in which she could be carried by two men. Never had her compatriots loved her so much. She played until her last strength was exhausted.

On March 26, 1923, she died in the arms of her son Maurice, who – as Sarah had sworn – never worked a single day in her life. Impressive in death as in life, Sarah lay in her famous coffin, dressed in white, her head resting on a pillow of violets, a silver cross in her hand.

The ribbon of the Legion of Honor was displayed on his chest, a distinction hitherto reserved only for men.

Some 30,000 people attended his funeral to pay homage to him, and a huge crowd followed his coffin from the church to the Père Lachaise cemetery, stopping for a moment of silence in front of his theater. His last words had been “To be a good boy.… Maurice.

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