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Profile of the Day: Helena Modrzejewska

On this day in 1840, Polish actress Helena Modrzejewska was born. Known professionally as Helena Modjeska, Modrzejewska is remembered as one of Poland’s most celebrated actresses. She won wide acclaim for her Shakespearean performances on stage.

Image: Helena Modrzejewska / Library of Congress

She was born on October 12, 1840 in Kraków, Poland. Her name was recorded as Jadwiga Benda at birth, but she was later baptized as Helena Opid.

In 1861, she made her stage debut under the stage name Helena Modrzejewska. After nearly a decade as one of the leading actresses of Polish theater, Modrzejewska moved to the United States. She made her American stage debut in 1877 and adopted a simplified version of her name, “Modjeska,” for English speaking audiences. Modrzejewska’s career thrived and her repertoire included 260 roles. She was widely known for her Shakespearean performances and ultimately played nine Shakespearean heroines throughout her career. Her longest-lasting role was Lady Macbeth, which she played 520 times.

Modrzejewska died on April 8, 1909 in Newport Beach, California of Bright’s disease. She was 68. Her remains were buried in the family plot at the Rakowiski Cemetry in Kraków.

Explore Helena Modrzejewska’s family tree on Geni and share your connection to the Polish acting legend.

View Helean Modrzejewska’s Geni Profile

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The post Profile of the Day: Helena Modrzejewska first appeared on The Geni Blog.


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