Mauruce Bernhardt (France, 1864-1928)


Figure 1.--Here Maurice is seen as the Dauphin in a play in which his mother plays the tragic and much maligned French Queen Marie Antoinette.

Maurice Bernhardt was the only son of the graet stage acttress and French patriot, Sarah Bernhardt. His father who was not involved in his life was Charles-Joseph-Eugene-Henri, was a Belgian nobleman, Prince de Ligne. Sarah raised Maurice and spoiled him shamefully. Sarah left Maurice's hair long and dressed him in fancy clothes until he was quite old. The two were close all their lives and Sarah died in his arms.

Parents

Sarah Bernhardt

Sarah Bernhard (France, 1844-1923) was a stage name. She was born as Rosine Nernard. Her parents were Jewish, but she was raised in a Catholic convent. Bernhardt was perhaps the most accalimed actress of the 19th century. She was born in Paris in 1844. She had a spectacularly successful acting career in France and then went to England in 1876 where she soon became the leading actress of the London stage, making annual appearances. She made visits to America in the 1880s and there were two world tours during the 1890s. She asked Oscar Wilde in 1892 to write a play for her. Wilde wrote Salome for her, but the Lord Chamberlain banned it before it could be staged. She founded the Theatre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris during 1899. Her leg was amputated in 1914, but she continued to appear on the stage. She appeared at the front during World War I to entertain the troops and helped raise money in America and Britain. She continued working on the stage until her death in 1923. She had one child, Maurice, after an affair with a Belgian nobleman. Sarah and Maurice were close all theur lives. She died in his arms.

Father

Charles-Joseph-Eugene-Henri, was a Belgian nobleman, Prince de Ligne. There was no lastung relationship between him and Bernhardt and he was not involved in Maurice's life.

Childhood

Maurice was born in Paris (1864). Sarah was quite young when Maurice was born. He was put in the care of Madame Guérard who had befriended Sarah as a child. [Emboden, p. 16.] Maurice was almost killed in a fire as an infant. Although Sarah was terrified of fire, she rushed in the burning buikding to save him. Maurice was the only thing she saved, all her possessions were destroyed. [Emboden, p. 32.] Sarah raised Maurice and spoiled him shamefully. Nothing was too beautifull for Maurice.

Childhood Clothing

Sarah left Maurice's hair long and dressed him in fancy clothes until he was quite old.

The Stage

Maurice appeared with his mother on stage, but I do not think this was very common. Here Maurice is seen as the Dauphin in a play in which his mother plays the tragic and much maligned French Queen Marie Antoinette (figure 1). Sarah and Maurice horse whip a member of her 1880 American touring secretly prepared accounts for a Parian newspaper that were later published as a rather scandalous book. [Emboden, p. 68.]

Education


Marriage

Maurice married a Polish princess, Maria Jablonowska. She was known as Terka. They had two daughters, Simone and Lysiane. Simone Bernhardt Married Edgar Gross and had 2 kids a boy and a girl named Bernard Gross and Terkette Gross. Terkette's married surname was Reichenback and had a son named Georges P Clemenceau. Lysiane was named after a villa that her grandmother loved. [Fukuda] She married the playwrite Louis Verneuil.

Adult Life

Maurice had two passions as he grew older: gambling and fencing. He fought several duels, he was quick to take offence if something was said against his mother. Sarah set Maurice up at as the stage manager of one of the theaters she was associated with. [Emboden, p. 67.] Maurice also became a writer. Some of his plays include: Hecube (revival), La Mort de Cleopatre (revival), La Mort de Cleopatre (original), and Hecube (original). Sarah helped support Maurice and his family all her life. [Emboden, pp. 152-53.] The two were close all their lives and Sarah died in his arms. He died only a few years after his mother (1928).

Sources

Baring, Maurice. Sarah Bernhardt (Peter Davies Ltd, London, 1933).

Bernhardt, Sarah Bernhardt, ma grand'mère (Paris, 1945).

Bernhardt, Sarah Bernhardt, My Grandmother (Hurst & Blackett, London, 1949).

Emboden, William. Darah Bernhardt (Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.: New York: 1974), 176p.

Fukuda, Yvette. E-mail message (June 25, 2013. Fukuda






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Created: August 17, 2003
Last updated: 2:30 AM 6/25/2013