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She Was Famous Almost 200 Years Ago—and Still Is!

Carol Ockman

Carol Ockman

On March 19, 2015, Sarah Bernhardt came to town. Or at least her magnificent, outsized spirit did, channeled by art historian Carol Ockman, who participated in an illuminating conversation with Jens Hoffmann of the Jewish Museum in New York. The conversation was part of an ongoing series in which the subjects of Andy Warhol’s Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century (1980) will be “interviewed” by prominent experts. Ockman assumed the persona of Bernhardt (1844-1923), who was arguably the most famous actress of all time; she also sculpted, painted, and generally lived her life on a scale most spectacular. (For more about the Divine Sarah B., see “When She was Good, She was Very, Very Good and When She was Bad, She was … Jewish.”) Using slides to augment her remarks, Ockman spoke from the inside out about fame, film, a woman’s role and Jewish identity. Later, Lilith Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough asked Ockman about her long history with the fabled diva.