Sarah Bernhardt

Active - 1900 - 1995  |   Born - Sep 25, 1844   |   Died - Mar 26, 1923   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy Drama, Historical Film, Romance

Share on

Biography by Sandra Brennan

Illustrious French actress Sarah Bernhardt was primarily known for her theatrical work, but she also appeared in a few films. It was said that the Grande Dame of French theater loathed cinema, and yet continued to appear in films until her death. She did not make her film debut until 1900 in Hamlet's Duel. She hated her next film, Tosca (1908), so much so that she ordered the negative destroyed and it was never released. She did not appear in another film until 1911 with La Dame aux Camélias. This film was acclaimed by the public and critics alike and is credited with helping make cinema a respectable artistic medium in France. The next year she traveled to England to make Queen Elizabeth. This film was a tremendous success in the U.S. and lead the great actress to receive many offers to work with other studios. But Bernhardt was 69 and elected to stay with the studio she'd worked with from the start, Film d'art. Even after she lost her leg in 1915, Bernhardt continued to appear in the films she said she hated so much. In 1923, when the 79-year-old Bernhardt became ill, filmmakers transformed the actress's hotel room into a set to film La Voyante. Unfortunately she died before the film was finished.