Sarah Bernhardt

Sarah Bernhardt

Another of her strange tastes was collecting chairs, that she used to buy everywhere filling with them all the homes she lived in. After a flight on a balloon she wrote a book entitled "Dans les nuages, impressions d'une chaise" (= "In clouds, impressions of a chair")

At Belle-Ile-de-la-Mer, a small island near the coast of Brittany, there's the "Sarah Bernhardt'2 chair", a seat she carved for herself in a niche in the cliffs by the sea.

Claimed to have had 1,000 different lovers.

Godmother of actor Jean Angelo.

Her great-granddaughter, Terka, married a grandson of Georges Clemenceau.

Her only child, son Maurice Bernhardt, was born 1864; his father was Belgian Prince Henri de Ligne. Shortly before Maurice's wedding his father, the Prince de Ligne, told Maurice that he was prepared to officially recognise him and offered him his name and a substantial fortune. Maurice replied that as his mother had raised him single-handedly and had made such great sacrifices in the process he preferred to remain a "Bernhardt". An amusing event followed soon after. Maurice accompanied his father to la Gare du Nord to catch his train. There was an unusually long line and his father refused to wait. The Prince de Ligne demanded entry stating: "I am the Prince de Ligne". The platform controller was rather unimpressed and said he had never heard of him and told Prince Henri to take his place at the back of the line. Maurice then came forth and declared he was the son of Sarah Bernhardt. They were immediately ushered through. Maurice is alleged to have told his father that he hoped he now realised that the name "Bernhardt" also had its advantages.

Her twelve years younger husband, Aristide Damala, was a Greek diplomat who died in 1898, allegedly because of drugs and a generally vicious life. After his death she used to sign her own letters "Sarah Bernhardt, veuve Damala" (= "widow Damala")

In 1912, became the first great actress of the stage to appear in the new medium of films.

She seemed a little worried by thoughts of death. At the age of 15 she bought a coffin in which sometimes she slept. On stage she preferred characters that died at drama's end.

She was fond of wild animals and held at home a lion and six chameleons. According to some biographies (probably more fanciful than reliable) she asked a surgeon to fasten her a tiger tail but that man replied it was impossible.

The rosewood coffin that she sometimes slept in was lined with letters from her lovers.

While playing "La dame aux camélias" in an American theater, in front of a very noisy and boisterous audience she said: "If they don't keep quiet I'll die in the second act".