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Who was Helena Modrzejewska: Polish actress who specialized in tragic and Shakespearean roles

Helena Modrzejewska was successful first on the Polish stage who was specialized in Shakespearean and tragic roles. Even facing initial skepticism and prejudice due to her foreign background, she quickly proved herself to be a name to be recognized with on both sides of the Atlantic.

She didn’t speak English well when she immigrated to the US, she was successful on stage in both America and London. She is recognised as the best actress in Polish theatre history.

Helena Modrzejewska biography

On October 12, 1840, Helena Modjeska was born in Kraków, Poland. Modjeska’s lineage stays uncertain. Although Jadwiga Benda was her birth name on file. She got married Helena Opid later on and took her godfather’s last name.

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According to Modjeska’s memoirs, her father was Michael Opid, a musician. Although Michal Opid, a music teacher working for the Benda family would go on to serve as Helena’s godfather.

Modrzejewska played at Bochnia, Nowy Sącz, Przemyśl, Rzeszów and Brzeżany, in her early Polish acting career. She appeared at Stanisławów and Czerniowce, in plays by Słowacki, from 1863.

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Helena Modrzejewska marriage

Modjeska married a Polish nobleman, Karol Bożenta Chłapowski, on September 12, 1868. Known in America as “Count Bozenta,” he was not a count. His family were untitled landed gentry.

He performed as “Count Bozenta” in the US to garner attention. English-speaking audiences found “Bozenta” simpler to pronounce than “Chłapowski.”

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Also Read: Rolanda Rochelle Wiki, Bio, Age, Boyfriend, Height, Facts

Helena Modrzejewska net worth and career explored

Helena Modrzejewska debuted at the California Theatre in San Francisco in an English version of Ernest Legouvé’s Adrienne Lecouvreur, 20 August 1877. She performed with Mr. J Forbes-Robertson on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall in 1880 after learning that Ruan Minor parish church needed an organ.

Many locals witnessed Romeo and Juliet on a small stage in the vicarage yard. Charles Campbell Ross, a Penzance local and future St Ives MP, played Friar Laurence. Her net worth was estimated to be $4 million.

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