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The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, August 23, 1908, Image 3

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*&c San Francisco Sunday Call
THE ROMANTIC LIFE STORY
OF
MODJESICA
ADOPTED DAUGHTER OF CALIFORNIA
DURING Mrs. Patrick Campbell's
last visit to the coast Mme. Mod
jeska went to see her perform
ance and called upon her behind
the scenes. Mrs. Campbell could not
restrain an exclamation at the youth
of the great artist
"Oh, what do you do, madame." she
caid, "to preserve yourself so wonder
fully?" Madame smiled her enig
matical little smile and said nothing.
"I could not tell Mrs. Campbell." she
explained afterward,- "that I 'preserve'
myself crocheting shawls for my neigh
bors and dressing dolls for the Bronson
True — crocheting, . dressing* dolls for
charity, mending, embroidering robes
for the parish priest — these thing? are
"rest," or what she calls so. "Rest," as
the American woman understands the
i term. Is foreign- to her. She never re
laxes, never retires to her darkened
room, in dressing gown and slippers,
with hair down, to "collect herself," or
"calm herself or "quiet, her* nerves."
Nothing like that- -Rest" for Mme.
Modjeska. is — as she herself explains
it— "a change in work." '
"When I am tired doing one thing I
turn to something else.".
But she does not become tired quickly
end there is always something else at
hard. Never idle, never aimless, never
without work ahead; it is to this prac
tice of constantly keeping the mind
occupied and Interested that Mme. Mod
jeska perhaps owes some of her won
derful youth. She seems today a young
woman, with great wells of vivacity
and charm still untapped. At any rate,
she is a difficult proposition for "beauty
doctors" and "rest cure."
But. besides her rest, madame has her
work — a difficult work — a great work —
the writing of her memoirs; a life so «
varied, so' crowded with Incident, so '
glowing with great endeavor and great
achievement, so blazoned with honor
and distinction, and underneath all so
sweetly " simple and true—^the story of
a life like this to be gathered together
in a volume.
Helena Modjeska was born in- Cra
cow 65 years ago — Cracow, ,the heart
of Poland. And today, after 30 years
of life in America, an artistic success
here so pronounced that Americans are
apt to consider her career as their
cwn, aad/with srtat love. for America,
her forter country. STadame Modjesks
is at heart ardently and intensely a
TThen P«derevr£xi played in Los Ac
ge-es M-aiame Lfodjoska went in from
her hozze in Orange county to spen<?
several days -with her countryman
Polish f.owred 'freely and the subject
. was mostly Poland and Poland's
wrongs- Madame lias not been home '
since her exile and Paderewski had
much news.
"Oh, the injustice! the injustice!" ex
claimed madame, "the great wrongs'" of
which all the world knows, and the
" daily miserable, petty impositions of
\u25a0which the world knows nothing, but
which take the heart out of the people!
And the indifference of the government!
told me that when he spoke
to the Russian ofScers of the robbery
and outlawry that are going free in
Warsaw all the satisfaction he "got was
a shrug and ''Well, if we interfere life
might get too easy for you Poles r "
Madame laughed. "Too easy for us!"
During Modjeska's girlhood love for
her own poor Poland and admiration
for bravery and heroism were her
strongest emotions. She yearned to be.
herself, heroic. And so it is that in
her art she can portray the great hero
ines of history and imagination. She
feels as they felt and her audience
shares her Inspiration.
One day a serious accident happened
at Bohnla. a small provincial town
where madame was then living. Sev
eral families were left without support.
It was decided to give an amateur per
formance for their benefit. It was a
modest little performance, given in a
small hall. Here Modjeska made -her
first appearance.
Talent Instantly Recognized
]^ fiappen^u luai in Liic duuiciitc Has
the manager of a theater In Warsaw,
He came behind the scenes and asked
to meet her. He told her she had
talent and should go on. Encouraged
by this, and with the all round success
tnat Hielr amateur performances had
•won. the five people who comprised the
company decided to go on the road,
with Modjeska as their star. They set
forth In a large wagon to play in the
small towns and villages. From this
beginning Madame Modjeska. soon be
came a provincial actress of great
popularity, and finally obtained an en
gagement in a ,-stock theater in Cra
cow. Here was an excellent company
and an excellent .stage manager. ,
The leading womar was Antoinette
Hofmann (the; aunt of Josef Hofmann).
6he was talented and beautiful' and
took her honors for granted.
Modjeska was talented and beautiful
and ambitious..' ...She worked hard, and
was soon rivaling the leading woman
in popular "favor. /She became recog
nized as an artist. Her fame spread
beyond the borders of her own" coun
try, into, Germany and France. I/Art,
then edited by Arsene ' Houssaye.
printed her. picture, as a frontispiece,
with a sonnet to her art. And finally
she received an invitation to the great
theater at Warsaw, to appear there in
three star performances.
It is the custom in Poland that when
artists make a'debut under. a new man
agement they appear in the leads of
three plays ofitlieir own choosing. The
imperial theater of Warsaw is - under
the management of the government,
and is the greatest theater in Poland.
Before starting for Warsaw to cnake
her debut Modjeska married Charles
Bozenta Chlapowski,. a member of one
of. the great Polish families, a lit
terateur and the editor of the leading
paper In Cracow. *
• Madame' s first appearance in Warsaw
was a great trial and a great triumph.
The established artists of the theater
resented her intrusion in their midst
The shared their jealousy;" the
whole atmosphere was against her, but
the theater was crowded. Artists came
and students came and society came —
society, curious to see the actress, who
as the Countess Chlapowska was one
of them. ' She chose as her. premiere
"Adrienne Lecouvreur." . Warsaw still
remembered ' Rachel In the part. The
test was difficult and decisive. After
the performance the $ audiencef. would
not leave the theater, but- remained to
clap and wave handkerchief s and shout
"bravos!" - ."* ""/ ..." * -V.
The next morning's papers devoted
colunms , to^ the new/ genius who had
come ! lnto their midst,'. and. during: the
next • three days'- over; 2,ooo^cards were
left' at ' the'door "of the' artist. All
had capitulated — artists/ students' and
society. Modjeska's triumph was com
plete.' •- T '
Modjeska accepted a life engagement
as leading woman at. the^lmperial", the
ater in Warsaw. - ISy a • clause, which
she insisted be inserted in her contract,
she was given the* power, of producing
each year l six ' plays of * her. own choos
ing. In this way. she. practically ob
tained ; control : of the - theatrical . art In
Poland. She Introduced the 'classics -of
the French and English stage. Shakes
peare, "even then, -'-when she \u25a0.knew.. "no
English at " all,' had i become /her . great
ambition.
Her;home became one of^.the center*
of artistic life in Poland. "All the great
artists who came .to Warsaw, were her
guests — Liszt, the Rubinsteins, the De
Reszkes, Sienkiewicz, and many others;
not only the artists who had "arrived,"
but the young and unknown, who got
from Mmc, Modjeska. and her. husband
great hplp and encouragement in their
careers. ' S \u25a0\u25a0./'/ ./.-.. Y\ ' \u25a0 \u0084
Through . overwork and • nervous
worry, "madame 1 became seriously- 11L
The ignorant Russian censors caused
her great- annoyance. -, She" seemed:un
able In-'the "environment of petty, .Jeal
ousy and'envy'to recover -her strength
and spirits. , She, longed for rest. Like
poor, .immigrants, worn: by the drudg
\ery and oppression of their own coun
try, the eyes of this great woman and
her husband. turned to America. . Other
artists, .to whom this life of: oppression
and repression had become lntoler-'
abler Joined' with" them. ; It, was decided,
to' form/ a small artistic, colony,- in
America.-. '\u25a0•*.'=' : •"•"' - - ''\u25a0\u25a0'.\u25a0'-.
Th*e Colony j;f _
Sienkiewicz, who ,v.-as young -and. un-*
known,; not yet having written! " Quo
v adls," came first with -.. an . «c-#fncer;
of both the ' Prussian; and Turkish arin-J. '
lea - named SypnioovokL r.'-,These ; two '
formed, an advance guard.* They tray-*;
eled « over ' the United : States and earned
to; CallfoVnla./Then\ their 'letters an
nounced: that 'they; had • found \ the"; pfcra- "
disc of the earth." Z Modjeska/ Count 80-"
zenti,* • and • several i bther*» artists" "who ; :
were of; their [ party # * prepared \ to / f 01- ' :
low, them to the I new.,"! world', 'v .They"
Balled;from Bremeir to XewiYork.7Frbm
there, vla ; the', isthmus 'of Panama,^ they :r .
came; to ~ San Francisco.^}* Af terTvisiting ;
herejsome itime In* alPollshi colony.-they r
set out for their tUtopiar, which'; was l'tit
ranch selected" by/ the advance-guard I
andilocated'ln southern; California near ,
Anaheim. \u0084.+'-\ t ... ( , .•- j \u25a0.., i i^'iCf\-
Air went : merrily,' for/a -while. The ,
sun i shone, ? " the *\u25a0 birds" 1 sang, i and - there
was'pleatjr. of •xcellent coffee and ex-
This Artfcte Is Written by
a Member of the Great*
Actress' Household at
"Arden," Near Los An
geles
cellen* cigarettes. But after a- while
life began? to pall. Washing linen In
the creek . wasn't : so very much ';.- fun,
after ; all. Perhaps "if ; the . maid ; se*rv- r
ant. imported from ; Poland, had been
more capable, -things, would- have": been
easier. Madame r tells that /.the 'first
morning, .when* her.; husband asked .the
maid If ; the. breakfast eggs were hard,
she said, "Of course' they ; were-^-they
were hard ;when she put them; in." She'
not' even .know, that the inside of an
Is not always 'hard as -the- shell.
.Sienkiewicz ; became .tired \u25a0:•" of:; the
primitive *' life. He ' could not ' under-,
Americans, so he returned to
Poland. .
\u25a0 "•'The -'ranch, under > artistic manage
ment,'produced, nothing, arid' although
the '-Bunt'still; shone'; and ; the birds .still
san g, '/the -excellent^ coffee '.. and cigar
ettes„ were flow.' ' Madam* de
cided * t(T ; .take t action. Her /plan j was
n6tHiifg : less7thanjto;learn English" and
to ; appear' on -.the j American ' stage, v, :
"• To £ any*' one -at^all' acquainted With'
the'PoHsh/, language^ 'the^in^ensityj'of
her' task :at once j presents itself. •Fur
thermore,'* although her -art * was con
•'tlnentally* kn6wn.\her name un
known '?. to , America. : Undaunted, .;and
iwlthVthat' keen which
"was"'one-of : her most; striking Equalities,
she',; came ; to ' Sair Francisco.^ She ; ob
tained ; apartments? in , a private) house.
Downstairs Jshe heard.l several . times; !a
woman- speaklng-Englishj in- very/clear
arid;- musical", tones./;; Madame £.wast at-"
uraccc4 by} her ; She " fojiad - thai
its owner -was ; a. girl of about IS,
ah . almost daily visitor at i the' house ;
so madame ; engaged i the "girl ito teach
her. English. SheTmade a very; fortunate
choice. * This girl, .' Miss -. Johanna Tu
cholsky, 'spoke 'a^singularly. clear, and
pure English.- She -became .very much
Interested < in her. task and; very much
in, love; with the, "foreign countess."
Modjeskardid; not,: at] first, attempt to
learn ;t; to '.understand it. Her
'almTwas to. pronounce it. "She took the,
parts of ther playsjin Iwhiehishe Wished
to appear . and. learned \u25a0 to .pronounce,
. word* by word, * their .' English
' She , work' all day and, after her ;
young ? teacher /left^ far Unto: the night,
alone. » In, three months she had accom
. piished r her ' taskJC^Mean while ; she fhad \u25a0
;the *dlfflcuUy./Of _' securing 'an j engage
' ment.- \u25a0\u25a0\u25a0;;, Who-'wa* > going; toj 1 ; listen |seri-'
• ously.- to; a .woman who proposed to^ play {
'great parts*in~a language'ln whichshe
" could .^not^.^expfess^herself; in
?jFinailjr her,V6ung .teach
;er.j-'obtained,, a Shearing 4 for her" from
t Barton Hill. *;He u'nwillisgj Ati first
eveny to 'consider 'giving' 'his tlme.^but;
' finally;^ was '.* persuaded;. ' thinking ,' lt :
would /perhaps i be jlnteresting.i If /not •
•amusing.- "He dld Jnot;c6nslder'the'try-
\u25a0out'wortliy.'pf a theatef,"'"sb',us.ed*a small
hall /near' his t o&ce. \u0084'" \u0084 . .- \u0084 >,- j; '.
Tried^PutUn sSan-Francisco;'-',s San- Francisco ; '-', •, \u25a0
j^Modjeska:/ came j.wlth J /the* >girl.>
and "with 1 . no> preliminary^— she : could
' sayj so -little ; in (English— -they^ .went' to
' ttio -\u25a0\u25a0 farther \u25a0 end !•' of l' the li ttle : \u25a0 hall.
Barton. Hill, lounged i drearily near the „
door. ::'.Ma"dame:had chosen thelast act
of . "Adrieniie." "Her teacher read all
the /opposite .parts .from - the book,
stumbling .along toward- the last be
tween \ sobs v f that • madame's art pro
duped": in I her.. '.Hill was crying, too. '
When it.was ; over ; he rushed forward to
greet the artist. 'and. on madame's ask
ing if he thought she could have the|
theaterf or ;a;night,, he; insisted Jon her
taking lt/f or one or two, weeks. ,
-She began 'work at once. After the
first rehearsal' John J^McCullough said
to. her: -"Madame, you are the great
; est,artist I -have, ever seen." ' .
.;. So Madame 1 Modjeska obtained an en
gagement.'' Here it^was that the name
VModjeska".. Iwas . Madame's
name: in .Polish,,. and the name under
which 'she was -known In' Europe was
Madame'; Modrzejewskal , ' \u25a0" From/ that;
for American use, Barton Hill evolved
VModjeska." -. • - . " "
After a : wonderfully successful debut
in San Francisco, an jengagemenV which
laitedUwo weeks and tras decisive in
madame's t ] American . /career, a- short
tour: 1 through California and , Nevada
was /decided '.upon . in" order that she
"mlght'-'perf ect ; herself in her roles ;in
the a new., language.' -When' in Nevada
madame 'visited ; the* famous - Comstock
mine.; '.She^as.'the' guest on' this oc
casion of Sam": Davis. . When they were
i - In- the superintendent's office, "before
\u25a0 'startingrdown 5 : into ' the mine." a very
i. handsome man came.ln,. dressed- ele
;. "gantly ibut* In \ a.'. picturesque aid* orlg
, inal miner's 'outfit.' v jHe*stood* around 'as
.though Va'iting Vj for ; something, 'but
\u25a0 « Davis i made^no • Effort -to • introduce hlm
;When;they started- downinto the mine
'' he • went *wi th ' them '\u25a0 and * took , charge , of
v the.^pa'rty,j taking,;them. to "everything
. of, interest 4 andt- explaining : ail swith'
'\u25a0- great •; kn'owleldge *+ to p " Mme.- Modjeska.
.When"; they ; were' ; again In. the] super
;'. lgtendent's'ofnce. and .were^preparing ,to
leave madame slipped .a dollar-to'this
- man" whose'; courtesy ' 'had •'•been " ; so
1 marked. ' He i biushed.^ stammered, shot
* "one "indignant glance; \u25a0• at.-- Davis, but
rshbok rhis'^ hcail i before" 'the -\u25a0 money In
i madame's palin.Vf It "was 'Ja'meV X: Fair,;
'mine'; owner/"/ When,
.Davis . told •- the story; af ter.wardthe said
j-It«was« the fpiiiy, vfltoliar 'he ! had ever
"known Fair tQ refuse..
\u25a0:, /After I this, .madame J went to New
«i"ork,^and 'Jthejte -'definitely ! established
j herself' as ; an American actress. 1 'But
ibefore* this," soon- after her;flrst Tappeafance":-'lnT appeaf
ance" -'ln : -/*. San ; Francisco, she" played
,' : "Ophelia'U for "John \u25a0 McCullough at ; his
benefit, where she gave the xs&d seen* ,
In Polish.' In ISSS she made a tour of
America with Edwin Booth In the neves
to be forgotten "Booth-Modjeska" com
bination. Before this, la 18S0. aha had
gone to London and won another trl«
umph before another andlasc*. Sirs
became very much the ra* a la Londaa
and while before her debut aha iru so
foreign to the people that Punch, com
menting upon the billboards an*
nouncing simply '."Mod Je ska." irmAtail
to know, if it was something good t a
eat.. After her success thera bar w-nn
bacataa thp popular eaa for all maaaas
of goods desiring adTartlaament. Her
genius .won recognition from Edward,
then , tha . prince, and ha occupied a
box at every first performance of a naw
play. .
The Los Angeles Home
But America - is Modjeska's foster
country. Here In California, sha has
practically made her home sizes tha
first venture of that Utopian colony. la
the . hills in .the south thera is a beau
tiful ranch, known as Arden, famous
for its 1-oses, Its trees, its fountains
and for the charming house, one of tha
first of tha bungalow' style to be intro
duced In America, and designed for her
by the late Stanford White. Here, un
til within a year, madame made her
home. Now she has come nearer to civ
ilization and has a beautiful country
home out of Los Angeles. Here sha
entertains almost all the artists that
appear in the south. Ethel Barrymoro
spends' much of. her time with her
when playing In Los Angeles, as Mme.
Modjeska Is her godmother. Madame
tells an interesting story of how Ethel
and Lionel Barrymore happened to ba
baptized. in the Catholic church. One
day Georgie Drew was going along a
crowded street in New York with her
two children and suddenly discovered
that they had ' both disappeared. She
retraced her steps anxiously, but could
not find them. She telephoned to tha
police and a thorough search was start
ed, but nothing could be found of the
t*o children. They had mysteriously
disappeared. Finally, several hours
later,' when the mother with an officer
'was going once more along the street \u25a0\u25a0
where she .had missed them she saw,
sitting on the steps of the great cathe
dral there, hand In hand and gazing
with wide eyes Into the dusk, the two
little missing Barrymores.
*• They had , darted from her side int*
the church and, fascinated by tha splen
dor and the coloring within, had con- -.
tehtedly remained there to play. ThY"
mother, thinking this was. perhaps.
some little sign,- had her children re
ceived into the church, with Mme."
Modjeska and Count Chlapowski as
their godparents.
Two years ago Mme. Modjeska retired
from" the -stage. Each day she writes
all morning and often all day. In the
evening she believes in diversion — music,
reading aloud, or cards. ~ She Is an ex
pert bridge player, and although she "*
enjoys the game she seldom j lays la
the afternoon. "The da*" s'ne says.
*.*can' offer, more profitable employment,
but in the evening, when the day's work
is done, one needs some relaxation of
the sort." JSbtne one saitt that bridge
is- not much of a relaxation as it t»
plared now, but it always :is for ma
damV. except when she playafi with
PaderewEUi. . "He plays such an ex
cellent game.- such a remarkable game,
that I 'become nervous when I play,
opposite him. because I know he sees
all my, mistakes."
And so the acclamations of enthuslas- .
tic v .crowds. the clapping of hands and
waving of handkerchiefs, the bravos.
the encores, the calls and calls befora
the. curtain — all are over. In the loll l :
of orange groves, under the serene sky
of California. Mme. Modjeska .quietly
and beautifully lives the days; : always
busy, always gay, always charming

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