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[Tidbits] The Actress

The Actress

There is no denying that Hollywood and jewelry were–from the
beginning–inexorably tied…the one to the other. In the
beginning…to borrow from the greatest of all books…In the
beginning there was Hollywood…and its jewelers. However…this
time…this is not so much about the jeweler as it is about the

She was one of the Greats. Her name…even today…represents the
Actress’s Actress. She is the regal representation of the summit of
her craft. She was that to her world…and she was that to her

She was French; she was a classic actress; she was born Henriette
Rosine. She received a convent education till age sixteen. The exact
date of her birth is not known…even today. October 22, 1844 is the
best guess available. She made her acting debut at the 'Comedie
Fran�aise in 1862. In London, in 1879, Henry James tried to diminish
her talent by denigrating her as an advertising genius. She toured
England, Denmark, Belgium, the United States, and Canada. In her
heyday…she was second to none. She conquered Russian audiences while
George Bernard Shaw labeled her acting style as hackneyed and old
fashioned. She toured Australia and Africa. She opened a theater in
her own name. She had a leg amputated in 1915. She died in Paris in
1923. He stage name will live on forever.

She was a case…our actress was. She had innumerable lovers. She
often traveled with and slept in a coffin lined with letters from her
paramours. Men fought duels to the death for this slender bundle of
dynamite. Her traveling entourage consisted of dogs and cats and birds
and turtles and monkeys and leopards and lions and alligators. She
was…to say the least …eccentric. Her performances were so much in
demand that one woman killed herself because she could not get a
ticket to her show.

She had an illegitimate child. She earned and spent $25 million. Her
retinue of lovers exceeded 1000. I do not know when or how she adopted
the name by which she is known to all. I do know that she chose
Lalique as one of her first jewelers. He made jewelry for much of her
films. In 1894…for Theodora …he made her a crown with snakes,
griffins, and shoulder length beads. In 1895…for La Princess
Lointaine…he made her a crown and a sapphire ring. Henriette
inspired Lalique. Ultimately…he designed a gold medal depicting her
profile to commemorate her twenty nine years in the theater.

At one point in time Lalique created an Art Nouveau pendant of a
woman’s profile which bore a striking resemblance to our
actress…known today as Sarah Bernhardt. The face is of pale enamel.
The hair of purple plique-�-jour enamel. There’s a peridot and garnet
mounted in gold. It is beautiful.

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at where you will
scroll down the table menu till you get to the box that says
Tidbits…and inside the box where it says Tidbit Graphics…click on
the link that says: The Actress…where you will see a rendering of
the Sarah Bernhardt pendant.

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark