am a liar who always tells the truth.”
— Jean Cocteau
1844 or 1846:
Born Rosine Bernard to Judith Bernhardt in Paris.
Hired by the Comédie‑Française; critical disaster in her
debut, the title role in Iphigenia. She's fired.
Small roles in commercial Paris theatres.
Birth of Maurice, her son; presumed father is the Prince of
Ligne (Belgium), whom she had an affair with in 1863.
Triumphs in several major roles in commercial Paris theatres.
Organizes ambulances and impromptu hospitals for the wounded
in the Franco-Prussian War.
Affair with legendary actor Mounet-Sully. Returns to the
Comédie‑Française residence in London, where Sarah is a
sensation. She becomes a correspondent for The Globe.
She leaves the Comédie‑Française the next year.
Triumphant first North American Tour in plays by Alexandre
Dumas. She makes a special trip to New Jersey to meet Thomas
She gives her son the Théâtre de l'Ambigu in Paris, which she
European Tour (including Russia). Marriage to Aristide Damala.
Unauthorized and unflattering biography, Memoires of Sarah
Barnum by Marie Colombier is published. Separation from
her husband. For the first time, Sarah sells some of her
jewelry because of financial difficulties.
Tour of British Isles (including Ireland) in Macbeth
and Hamlet, among others.
She sells her apartments in Paris. North and South American
She buys a house Paris, which she keeps until her death.
Tour of Egypt and Turkey. Her husband dies.
World Tour (including Africa, Australia and both Americas). In
London, she rehearses Salomé, which Oscar Wilde wrote
for her, but the play is banned before opening.
Affair with Jules Lemaitre, who wrote The Kings for
She meets Edmond Rostand who begins writing plays for her,
notably Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac (though she didn’t
originate the role).
National Day of Homage to Sarah Bernhardt in France.
She welcomes Eleonora Duse to the Théâtre de la Renaissance,
which she purchased in 1893, but leaves for a European Tour.
She leaves the Renaissance to take over the Théâtre des
Nations (today the Théâtre Sarah Berhnardt). Tour of Europe in
She buys the fort on Belle-Ile, an island off the Southern
coast of Brittany.
North and South American Tour. Severe pain in her right knee
due to repeated falls in Joan of Arc, Tosca and
The Eaglet. Henrik Ibsen writes The Lady of the Sea
for her, which debuts in Geneva.
Her autobiography, My Double Life is published. She
accepts a professorship at the Paris Conservatory.
Film version of Tosca. Last European Tour (including
Russia), with a detour to Egypt and Turkey.
She writes a play, The Heart of Man, which debuts in
Tour of the United States. Affair with Lou Tellegen. Release
of the film, Elizabeth, Queen of England, which becomes
a sensation in America.
She receives the Legion of Honor from the French government.
Amputation of her right leg. Visits French troops fighting
World War I several days later.
London engagements. Farewell Tour in America. Title role in
film Jeanne Doré.
Title role in Athalie (play).
Last public performance in Daniel in Turin, Italy.
Title role in the film La Voyante, being shot in her
March 26, 1923:
in the arms of her son, Maurice. Several hundred thousand
follow her funeral procession. La Voyante is completed
with a double.