Who Was Helena Modrzejewska, A Polish Actress Who Specialized In Shakespearean And Tragic Roles


The late Helena modrzejewska is regarded as one of the world’s most intelligent and renowned actresses to have emerged from Poland. She is regarded as one of the pioneers in the movie industry who made acting in Poland rated on an international scale as USA and UK.

She was also the first person from the polish to break through into the USA movie industry and cemented her legacy there. This article is going to feature Helena Modrzejewska: her early life, how she began her career, her family, physical features, legacy, and influences.

Full Name: Jadwiga Benda
Date of birth: 12th October 1840
Death: 8th April 1909
Husband: Count Karol Bozenta Chlapowski
Children: Two
Nephew: Wladyslaw Benda
Height: 5 feet 7 inches
Weight: 55kg
Color of the eye: Brown
Color of the hair: Black
Nationality: Polish

Early Life of Helena Modrzejewska

Born to a musician father Michael opid and mother Józef in Krakow a province in Poland, the second of four siblings and many half-siblings. At one point, she lived with her great aunty.


She began her career in 1866 in the theatres of Poland which her great acting skills made her dominate greatly for more than a decade. Her charisma and excellent acting skills always got her fans trooping into the theatres anytime she appeared on the posters.

She also left a great mark in the polish movie industry as her movies were patronized across the country. In 1876 she decided to relocate to the USA and seek a newer challenge as she believed one had to leave when the applause becomes loudest.

She together with her husband agreed to leave their country of birth. She made her debut her debut in the California theatre although her English wasn’t as fluent as theirs. She then left for London to learn and improve her English speaking skills which she spent three years there.

She returned to the USA to continue with her stage performance craft where she played the character of many renowned personalities and was applauded by many. She then started winning the hearts of the Americans as many started to fall in love with her craft and her manager made her play the heroine character in nine Shakespeare plays.

Alongside the line, she was granted her citizenship to stay in the USA which made her get invited as a guest speaker at a conference which she used that platform to heavily criticize the Russians for their ill-treatment meted on polish women.

This criticism led her to be banned from entering Russia. She suffered a health scare in 1897 which she recovered and continued with her stage works. She then went back to her homeland Poland to perform in some major cities before coming back to give a jubilee performance in new York.


She was married with two kids with one of her sons Ralph Modjeska a very prominent civil engineer.


She died in 1908 with her remains flown back to Krakow to be buried on her family land.


Due to her huge influence in both Poland and USA, she has streets and building named after her. A huge statue was also built to honor her in California whilst the museum in Krakow also had one for her where people normally go to have a look. In 2021 google doddle celebrated her 181st birthday.

Source: Wikipedia

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