B1538. JOANNA RICHARDSON. Sarah Bernhardt and Her World. New York, Putnam’s, 1977. 232pp. Index; Bibliography; Photos; DJ. - 0-399-11887-X
“Sarah Bernhardt was a French stage and early film actress, and has been referred to as ‘the most famous actress the world has ever known’. Bernhardt made her fame on the stages of France in the 1870s, and was soon in demand in Europe and the Americas. She developed a reputation as a serious dramatic actress, earning the nickname ‘The Divine Sarah’. Bernhardt's stage career started in 1862 while she was a student at the Comédie-Française, France's most prestigious theater. She decided to leave France, and soon ended up in Belgium, where she became the mistress of Henri, Prince de Ligne, and gave birth to their son, Maurice, in 1864. In between tours, Sarah took over the lease of the Théâtre de la Renaissance, which she ran as producer-director-star from 1893 to 1899. That same year Sarah played her most controversial role, a female Hamlet, in a prose version of the play she commissioned herself. The play was greeted with rave reviews despite its running time of four hours.
Bernhardt was one of the pioneer silent movie actresses, débuting as Hamlet in the two-minute long film LE DUEL D'HAMLET in 1900. (Technically, this was not a silent film, and in fact, it is cited as one of the first examples of a sound and moving image syncing system created with the new phono-cinema-theatre system.) 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.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron