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Sarah Bernhardt's Geni Profile

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Rosine Bernhardt (Bernardt)

Also Known As: "The Divine Sarah"
Birthplace: Paris, Ile-de-France, France
Death: Died in Paris, Île-de-France, France
Cause of death: Empoisonnement urémique
Place of Burial: Paris, Île-de-France, France
Immediate Family:

Daughter of inconnu Bernardt and Julie Bernardt
Wife of Jacques Damala
Mother of Maurice Bernhardt

Occupation: famous actress
Managed by: Malka Mysels
Last Updated:

About Sarah Bernhardt

Sarah Bernhardt (c. October 22, 1844 – March 26, 1923) 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 Europe 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 was born in Paris as Rosine Bernardt, the daughter of Julie Bernardt (1821, Amsterdam – 1876, Paris) and an unknown father.

Julie, her mother, was one of six children of a widely traveling Jewish spectacle merchant, "vision specialist" and petty criminal Moritz Baruch Bernardt, and Sara Hirsch (later known as Janetta Hartog) (ca 1797–1829). Julie's father remarried Sara Kinsbergen (1809–1878) two weeks after his first wife's death, and abandoned his family in 1835.

Julie left for Paris, where she made a living as a courtesan and was known by the name "Youle".

Sarah would add the letter "H" to both her first and last name. Sarah's birth records were lost in a fire in 1871, but in order to prove French citizenship, necessary for Légion d'honneur eligibility, she created false birth records, on which she was the daughter of "Judith van Hard" and "Edouard Bernardt" from Le Havre, in later stories either a law student, accountant, naval cadet or naval officer.

As the presence of a baby interfered with her mother Julie's terrible and stressful life, Sarah was brought up in a pension, and later in a convent.

A child of delicate health, she considered becoming a nun, but one of her mother's reputed lovers – the future Duc de Morny, Napoleon III's half-brother – decided that Sarah should be an actress.

When she was 13, le Duc de Morny arranged for her to enter the Conservatoire, the government sponsored school of acting. She was not considered a particularly promising student, and, although she revered some of her teachers, she regarded the Conservatoire's methods as antiquated and too deeply steeped in tradition.

Bernhardt had an affair with a Belgian nobleman, Charles-Joseph Eugène Henri Georges Lamoral de Ligne (1837–1914), son of Eugène, 8th Prince of Ligne, with whom she had her only child, Maurice Bernhardt, in 1864. He married a Polish princess, Maria Jablonowska (see Jablonowski).

She later married Greek-born actor Aristides Damala (known in France by the stage name Jacques Damala) in London in 1882, but the marriage, which legally endured until Damala's death in 1889 at age 34, quickly collapsed, largely due to Damala's dependence on morphine.

During the later years of this marriage, Bernhardt was said to have been involved in an affair with the Prince of Wales, who later became Edward VII.

Much of the uncertainty about Bernhardt's life arises because of her tendency to exaggerate and distort.

She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1751 Vine Street.


  • Dans les nuages, Impressions d'une chaise (1878)
  • L'Aveu, drame en un acte en prose (1888)
  • Adrienne Lecouvreur, drame en six actes (1907)
  • Ma Double Vie (1907), & as My Double Life: Memoirs of Sarah Bernhardt, (1907) William Heinemann
  • Un Coeur d'Homme, pièce en quatre actes (1911)
  • Petite Idole (1920; as The Idol of Paris, 1921)
  • L'Art du Théâtre: la voix, le geste, la prononciation, etc. (1923; as The Art of the Theatre, 1924)
  • "Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt" Robert Gottlieb (2010)

Family & Partners

  • Parents: 
Charles Auguste Louis Joseph de MORNY, Judith Julie (Youle) de MORNY (née BERNHARDT)
  • Sister: 
  • Husband: 
Aristides DAMALA
  • Son: 
* Partner: 
Henri Maximilien Joseph Charles Louis Lamoral de LIGNE 
  • Partner: 
Charles François Marie de REMUSAT
  • Partner: 
  • Partner: 
  • Partner: 
  • Partner: 
Victor Marie HUGO
  • Partner: 
Lucien Germain GUITRY
  • Partner: 
Georges Jules Victor CLAIRIN
  • Partner: 
Gustave DORE
  • Partner: 
Charles HAAS
  • Partner: 
Albert Edward (VII) de SAXE-COBURG & GOTHA

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Sarah Bernhardt's Timeline

October 22, 1844
Paris, Ile-de-France, France
December 22, 1864
Age 20
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
March 26, 1923
Age 78
Paris, Île-de-France, France
Paris, Île-de-France, France