Sarah Bernhardt (Women in the Arts)
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A biography of the French actress, Sarah Bernhardt.
so she persuaded Giffard to arrange a flight for her. Working with Louis Godard, a young balloonist, Giffard prepared a special airship for the actress; on the side of the bag, in gold letters, was the ship’s name — the Doña Sol. Bernhardt invited her friend Clairin to accompany her. She wore a long, trailing white cashmere dress for the flight, with a fur-trimmed jacket, a gossamer scarf, and polished riding boots. Clairin wore a smart suit and a top hat. In addition to Clairin’s sketchpad,
thought Edison resembled Napoleon) charmed the bashful scientist. Captivated, Edison took her on a tour of his laboratory. She spoke with one of Edison’s aides, at a distance of a mile, using an unfamiliar new device called a “telephone.” Then, Edison demonstrated the phonograph, his latest invention, by singing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” off-key. She made her first recording by reciting some lines from Phèdre. The next day headlines in newspapers read: THE MOST FAMOUS MAN IN THE UNITED STATES MEETS
Fizdale. The Divine Sarah: A Life of Sarah Bernhardt. Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. Hathorn, Ramon. Our Lady of the Snows: Sarah Bernhardt in Canada. Peter Lang, 1996. Huret, Jules. Sarah Bernhardt. Chapman & Hall, 1899. Izard, Forrest. Sarah Bernhardt: An Appreciation. Strugis & Walton, 1915. Knepler, Henry. Gilded Stage: The Lives & Careers of Four Great Actresses: Rachel Felix, Adelaide Ristori, Sarah Bernhardt, & Eleonora Duse. Constable, 1968. Richardson, Joanna. Sarah Bernhardt and Her World. G.
her life, Bernhardt suffered severe injuries to her leg in falls. In 1893, for example, when she was playing Tosca in La Tosca, someone misplaced a thick mattress for her stage fall. She leaped off the parapet of the castle onto the bare stage and suffered a severe injury. Despite pain, she 19 20 SARAH BERNHARDT continued her tours and performances until gangrene set in and, in 1915, the leg had to be amputated. For the last eight years of her life, Bernhardt maintained a rigorous schedule,
such as Victorien Sardou’s Tosca. Her interpretation of the heroine in La Dame aux Camélias became the standard for all other actresses to follow. Her long, brilliant career, which had begun in France’s two national theaters, continued in England and America and expanded through several rigorous world tours. Her boundless energy invigorated not only her career, but also her life. “If there’s anything more remarkable than watching Sarah act,” declared Sardou, “it’s watching her live.” (Skinner,