Madame Modjeska in Shakespeare's

By Gally, Sid | Pasadena Star-News, August 19, 2012 | Go to article overview

Madame Modjeska in Shakespeare's


Gally, Sid, Pasadena Star-News


In re-reading my mother's memoir for the family, I came across her description of meeting Madame Helena Modjeska. Madame Modjeska was one of the most famous actresses in the world. They met at the home in Santa Ana of my mother's school friend, Agnes Yoch.

The girls needed costumes for a school play. Madame said if they were only at her ranch in the canyon, they could have many costumes.

Helena Modjeska had been born in Krakow, Poland, in 1840. The name Modjeska was an Anglicized version of her first husband's name.

She got into acting and in time became the leading actress in Poland, and acted in Polish language versions of Shakespeare's plays.

Her second husband called himself Count Bozenta. They came to the U.S. in 1876 with a group that intended to found a Polish cooperative agricultural settlement in Anaheim.

It didn't succeed.

She started acting in English in San Francisco and soon became the best-known actress in the world.

Later she and her husband bought a ranch in the Santiago Canyon area of Orange County and built a house called Arden where they lived part time.

Madame Modjeska performed in Pasadena's Grand Opera House on South Raymond Avenue several times. …

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