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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: In twilight of her career, French actress alights on Spokane

At 73, French actress Sarah Bernhardt still had a few acts left in her repertoire, as Spokane was soon to find out. (Spokesman-Review archives)
At 73, French actress Sarah Bernhardt still had a few acts left in her repertoire, as Spokane was soon to find out. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Sarah Bernhardt, “the Divine Sarah,” one of the most famous actresses in the world for nearly 40 years, arrived in Spokane for what was billed as her “farewell appearances.”

A large crowd gathered at the Union Station depot to greet her, but she was “spirited away by a side entrance, borne in her Japanese jinricksha, in which she is conveyed to and from her automobile.” At the Davenport Hotel, she greeted another throng with smile and wave.

The 73-year-old French star gave an interview to a Spokane Daily Chronicle writer, who reported that she was in “the best of spirits and in better health than she has enjoyed for 15 years.” She “betrayed scarcely more than a hint that more than three score and 10 years have passed over her head.”

“I am so glad that they did not send an old person to interview me,” she told the young Chronicle reporter. “Newspapers often send old men or women to see me, probably because they think they would be more sympathetic or congenial. I don’t like that at all. I like young people about me.”

She spoke in French, translated by her granddaughter, who was part of her seven-person entourage.

She was planning to perform various selections from her extensive repertoire during her six-performance engagement at the Auditorium Theater, including a French play about the Great War, in which she “will portray the role of a wounded French soldier.” She was also planning to present the last act of “Camille,” one of the roles that made her famous.

Advance ticket sales were strong, and capacity crowds were expected at all six shows.

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