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Entertainment – Eleonora Duse

Entertainment  – Eleonora Duse

October 3, 1858–April 21, 1924

Eleonora Duse,was an Italian actress, often known simply as Duse.

Elenora Duse from Wikipedia

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.

Gabriele d'Annunzio

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 Isadora Duncanthis 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.

Footsteps

Footsteps - image created by Maggie Baldry

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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the authors.  Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this work neither the author, contributors, employees or advisers are able to accept any legal liability for any consequential loss or damage, however caused, arising as a result of any actions taken on the basis of the information contained in this work. All third-party brands and trademarks belong to their respective owners.  Copyright : Maggie Baldry

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2011 in History, Soft Footsteps

 

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Entertainment – Sarah Bernhardt

Entertainment

So far on this journey we have considered the historical factors and the key roles women have played in bringing our ideas into reality via art and literature, communicating our ideas through technological development and providing ways for everyone to have access to education. So now let’s consider the work women have undertaken to entertain us.

We will be finding out about the pioneering silent film actress (perhaps also known as “the most famous actress in the history of the world”), Sarah Bernhardt; the first women to appear on the cover of Time Magazine, the Italian actress, Eleonora Duse and the first performer of African descent to ever win an Academy Award, Hattie McDaniel.

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EntertainmentSarah Berhardt

October 23, 1844 – March 26, 1923

Sarah Bernhard picture from Wikpedia

Sarah Bernhardt

Born in Paris, Sarah Bernhardt is often referred to as “the most famous actress in the history of the world,” she made her fame on the stages of Europe in the 1870s, and was soon in demand in Europe and the United States. She developed a reputation as a serious dramatic actress, earning the nickname “The Divine Sarah”.

Bernhardt was born in Paris as Rosine Bernardt, the daughter of a Dutch woman called Julie Bernardt and a father of unknown nationality. She was named after her mother and held Dutch nationality. Most likely, her father was not French. She added the letter ‘h’ to both her first and last name, and used the name of Edouard Bernardt, her mothers brother, as the name of her father. This was probably to hide the fact that her father was unknown. Her grandfather, Moritz Bernardt, was a notorious Jewish merchant in Amsterdam, Holland. Most likely, her Jewish mother Julie was also born in Amsterdam.

To support herself, she combined the career of an actress with that of a courtesan – at the time, the two were considered scandalous to some degree, but courtesans were widely accepted in many social circles, and looked on as equals in cases where they were highly intellectual and when the art of being a courtesan was merely a sideline for another more respectable career. She was sponsored into the Conservatoire de Musique et Déclamation by the Duc de Morny in 1859 for theatrical training.

Bernhardt’s stage career started in 1862, when she was a student at the Comédie-Française, France’s most prestigious theatre. However, she was not entirely successful at the conservatory and left to become a courtesan herself by 1865. It was during this time that she acquired her famous coffin which she often slept in in lieu of a bed, claiming it helped her understand her many tragic roles. She made her fame on the stages of Europe in the 1870s, and was soon in demand all over Europe and in the United States in New York. She coached many young women in the art of acting, including actress and courtesan Liane de Pougy.

Although primarily a stage actress, Bernhardt made several cylinders and discs of famous dialogues from various productions. One of the earliest was a reading from Phèdre by Jean Racine, at Thomas Edison’s home on a visit to New York City in the 1880s. Multi-talented, she was involved with the visual arts, acting, painting and sculpting herself, and modelling for Antonio de La Gandara. She also published a series of books and plays.

During her time, Bernhardt had a strong influence on grand opera, an influence that continues to this day. Tosca and Salome, for example, contain two of opera’s most sensational heroines; both were based on plays written for Bernhardt.

Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet picture from Wikipedia

Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet

Bernhardt was also one of the pioneer silent movie actresses, debuting as Hamlet in Le Duel d’Hamlet in 1900. (Technically, this was not a silent film, as it had accompanying cylinders with dubbed dialogue.) She went on to star in eight motion pictures and two biographical films in all. The latter included Sarah Bernhardt à Belle-Isle (1912), a film about her daily life at home.

In 1915, ten years after a serious injury, her right leg was amputated, confining her to a wheelchair for several months. Bernhardt refused a $10,000 offer by the P.T. Barnum circus to display her amputed leg as a medical curiosity. Nonetheless, she continued her career, and contrary to belief without the use of a wooden prosthetic limb. She carried out a successful tour of America in 1915, and on returning to France she played in her own productions almost continuously until her death. Her later successes included Daniel (1920), La Gloire (1921), and Regine Armand (1922). Her physical condition confined her practically to immobility on the stage, but the charm of her voice, which had altered little with age, ensured her triumphs. She died in the arms of her son Maurice. She is buried in Le Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France.

Sarah Bernhardt was made a member of France’s Legion of Honor in 1914 and has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1751 Vine Street

Footsteps

Footsteps - image created by Maggie Baldry

Legal bit
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the authors.  Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this work neither the author, contributors, employees or advisers are able to accept any legal liability for any consequential loss or damage, however caused, arising as a result of any actions taken on the basis of the information contained in this work. All third-party brands and trademarks belong to their respective owners.  Copyright : Maggie Baldry

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2011 in History, Soft Footsteps

 

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