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Starring Madame Modjeska - On Tour in Poland and America - cover

Starring Madame Modjeska - On Tour in Poland and America

Beth Holmgren

Publisher: Indiana University Press

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The “important . . . meticulously researched” prize-winning biography of the pre-eminent Polish star of the nineteenth century global stage (   In reintroducing “a little-remembered actress to a new American audience” biographer Beth Holgram delivers a revelatory portrait of Helena Modjeska—from unparalleled European success to her reign as the most acclaimed, and most recognized female celebrity in the late nineteenth-century United States.   In 1876, Poland’s leading actress, Helena Modrzejewska, accompanied by her husband, the self-stylized Count Bozente, emigrated to southern California to give up her career and establish a utopian commune. In light of its failings, it hardly fulfilled the real dreams of Madame Helena. Within a year, she changed her surname to Modjeska, and made her American debut at San Francisco’s California Theatre. Godmother to Ethel Barrymore, and sharing the Shakespearian stage with such luminaries as Otis Skinner, Edwin Booth, and Maurice Barrymore, Helena Modjeska became the leading star in the United States, where she reigned for the next thirty years.   In this “Impressive . . . achievement,” Holmgren traces Modjeska’s fabulous life and career from her illegitimate birth in Krakow, to her successive reinventions of herself as a trans-continental diva, and finally to her enduring legacy (Women’s Review of Books). All in all, Starring Madame Modjeska “makes for great drama” (
Available since: 11/10/2011.
Print length: 432 pages.

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