Entertainment – Eleonora Duse
October 3, 1858–April 21, 1924
Eleonora Duse,was an Italian actress, often known simply as Duse.
Duse was born in Vigevano, Italy and entered acting (her family’s profession) as a child. She came to fame in Italian versions of roles made famous by Sarah Bernhardt.
As an adult she toured Europe and America, and was particularly associated with the plays of Gabriele d’Annunzio. Gabriele d’Annunzio was an Italian poet, journalist, novelist, dramatist, womanizer and daredevil who went on to have a controversial role in politics as figurehead to the Italian Fascist movement and mentor to Benito Mussolini.
In 1879, while in Naples, she met journalist Mattino Cafiero, and became involved in a fast paced love affair with him. However, less than a year later, while she was in mid-pregnancy, he left her. The baby did not survive birth, and shortly thereafter Cafiero died also. Duse then joined Caesare Rossi’s theater company, and met actor Teobaldi Checci, and the two married in 1881. By 1885, the couple had one daughter, but divorced following her becoming involved in an affair with another actor, Flavio Ando.
Over the span of her career, Duse became well-known and respected for her assistance of young actors and actresses during her career. She retired from acting in 1909, but returned to the stage in 1921 in a series of engagements in both America and Europe.
On July 30, 1923, she became the first woman ever to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. Her naturalistic and individual style was in contrast to Bernhardt’s high emotionalism, and the two were rivals for many years.
Duse is an enigma, rumoured to have had a relationship with the dancer Isadora Duncan, but little is known about this as Duse was a subtle creature who avoided the theatrical and artifical.
She died at the age of 65 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in Suite 524 of the Hotel Schenley while on tour in the United States.
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