May 29, 1911: Actress Sarah Bernhardt wows Duluth audience

On this day in Duluth in 1911 Sarah Bernhardt, the “most famous actress the world has ever known,” wowed audiences at the Lyceum Theater. Bernhardt was 67 when she stepped onto the Lyceum’s stage and starred in the play “L’Aiglon,” (“The Eaglet”) portraying Napoleon Boneapart’s son, a boy less than 20 years old. The Duluth News-Tribune reported that she displayed “all the fire of a girl of twenty.’ The newspaper also reported a relatively small audience for the Divine Sarah, likely because the play was performed entirely in Bernhardt’s native French. Those that did attend paid between $1 and $3 each to see perhaps the most popular woman in the world at the time. Miss Bernhardt played Duluth once before, performing the lead in “Camille” before an audience at the Temple Rink, a roller rink built from the ruins of the Temple Opera House that stood from 1905 to 1909. Of her first visit Bernhardt said she found Duluth “very cold” but was warmed by the welcome she received from citizens of the Zenith City.

Sara Bernhardt photographed in 1865. (Image: Public Domain)