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A tantalizing biography for teens on Sarah Bernhardt, the first international celebrity and one of the greatest actors of all time, who lived a highly unconventional, utterly fascinating life. Illustrated with more than sixty-five photos of Bernhardt on stage, in film, and in real life.
Sarah Bernhardt was a French stage actor who became a global superstar in the late nineteenth century—the Lady Gaga of her day—and is still considered to be one of the greatest performers of all time. This fast-paced account of her life, filled with provocative detail, brilliantly follows the transformation of a girl of humble origins, born to a courtesan, into a fabulously talented, wealthy, and beloved icon. Not only was her acting trajectory remarkable, but her personal life was filled with jaw-dropping exploits, and she was extravagantly eccentric, living with a series of exotic animals and sleeping in a coffin. She grew to be deeply admired around the world, despite her unabashed and public promiscuity at a time when convention was king; she slept with each of her leading men and proudly raised a son without a husband. A fascinating and fast-paced deep dive into the world of the divine Sarah. Illustrated with more than sixty-five photos of Bernhardt on stage, in film, and in real life.
Much of what is known about this legendary French actress (1844 1923) is recognized as colorful hearsay which was fomented by Bernhardt herself. In this concise, well-researched biography, Reef faithfully separates the documented from the speculative in tracing Bernhardt's life from her birth as the daughter of a Jewish courtesan to the three days when "life in Paris halted" to mourn the death of the "Divine Sarah." After education at boarding school and a convent, where she was baptized into Catholicism and yearned to become a nun, the temperamental 15-year-old was reluctantly admitted to study drama at the Com die-Fran aise. Headstrong and tempestuous, she was initially an unremarkable actress with an erratic career; by the time she was 24, however, she had become "the star everyone wanted to see," mesmerizing audiences around the globe. Reef details Bernhardt's wide-ranging career, acts of patriotism during the Franco-Prussian War and WWI, and intriguing personal life, including idiosyncrasies such as sleeping in a coffin, in prose that alternates between conversational and melodramatic. Well-recounted, if falling short in rendering the drama of Bernhardt's magnetic performances and extraordinary charisma, this is a solid introduction to an unconventional feminist and international idol. Ages 12 up.