Helena Modjeska was one of the most famed theatre artists of all time and for sure the most popular artist in the mid-1800s.
The mid-1800s was a period when movies were not discovered and the most valuable source of entertainment in terms of acting was “Theatre”. The theatre artists used to perform acts based on some of the best writers’ works like William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, etc.
Helena is considered to be the best Polish actress of all time. She has done acting in more than 300 plays but she was majorly famous for her roles in Shakespearean acts.
Helena Modjeska Biography
Helena was Born on Oct. 12, 1840, in Krakow, And died on 8 April, 1909, in Newport Beach, California. Helena’s birth name was “Jadwiga Benda”. Helena Modrzejewska, professionally known as Helena Modjeska was a very famous Polish Actress who later became a known name worldwide.
“Initially, she used to perform in her native country but later followed her dreams and after the realization of her skills, she immigrated to the United States. There she continued her career and majorly played roles in the Shakespearean act”
Helena Modjeska Family
Helena’s mother’s name was Józefa Benda and was a widow. There were rumors that Helena’s father was Michael Opid, who was also her music teacher and Godfather.
She was first married to Gustave Sinnmayer and they both had a son named Ralph Modjeski. Later she found out that the marriage was illegal as Gustave was already married to his first wife. So, she broke the marriage.
She later went on to marry a Polish Lord, Karol Bożenta Chłapowski. She continued doing her plays and reached the top of her fame and soon realized that she wanted to fulfill her dream and decided to immigrate to the United States with her husband Karol.
Helena Modjeska Relationship and married
Her husband, Karol, wanted to give her a break from performing because she had already done a lot of work in Poland. After talking to Helena and their mutual acquaintances, Karol decided to relocate to the US.
In 1876, they finally moved with their friends and settled in California. The reason behind moving to the US was to relax from that hectic life and enjoy freedom in the new country. The idea of miserable failed as the source of income from farming was not satisfactory and she finally had to return to the stage. This time she started doing the Shakespearean act.
Even though she was not a good speaker of English, still she amazed the audience and became the favorite theatre artist of many people.
She majorly played these roles –
- Ophelia of Shakespeare’s drama Hamlet
- Juliet of Shakespeare’s drama Romeo and Juliet
- Desdemona of Shakespeare’s drama Othello
- Queen Anne in Richard III
- Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing And many more.
Helena Modjeska’s Death and The Legacy That Followed
She performed on 2nd May 1905 and did a Jubilee performance in New York and ended her career after continuing for two more years.
Helena died when she was 68 years old on 8 April 1909, from Bright’s disease. She had written an autobiography also called Memories and Impressions of Helena Modjeska.
To give value to the work she has done and to create her legacy, many things were being named after her. Some of them are –
- Modjeska Park in Anaheim, California
- Modjeska Peak
- Modjeska Falls
- Modjeska Canyon, California
- Google honored Helena on her 181st Birth Anniversary by creating a Google Doodle
FAQs About Helena Modjeska
Ans. Karol Bożenta Chłapowski, stage name Botenza is the legal husband of Helena.
Ans. Helena Modrzejewska is her real name and Jadwiga Benda is her birth name.
Ans. Memories and Impressions of Helena Modjeska is the name of Helena’s autobiography which was published posthumously in 1910.
Ans. Ralph Modjeski was her son, who was famous for his work in designing bridges.