Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Sunday Review: "Starring Madame Modjeska: On Tour in Poland and America"

In this week's OC Bookly, Andrew Tonkovich writes about the latest book on Madam Helena Modjeska and so much more, including his own Polish mother.


Fast-forward to redemption in the happy irony of living today next door to the home of Madame Helena Modjeska, late-century Polish superstar Shakespearean actress emigre, patriot and heroine. She's ubiquitous in our fair county, if hidden in plain sight. Check out the giant Mary Queen of Scots memorial statue in Pearson Park in Anaheim, her first home in these parts, and a national historic landmark. Take a gander sometime at the Saddleback. The lower peak is Modjeska, elevation 5,496 ft. Tiny, charming Modjeska Canyon, of course, bears her name. Her home, "Arden," after the forest in As You Like It, was purchased by the county in 1986, restored, and is beautifully maintained, with charming old-lady volunteer docents all dressed up in turn-of-the-century frillery, big hats and flowing dresses.

Madame Mo was big, friends. How big? A hundred years later you can still buy a "Modjeska" caramel-marshmallow candy. So inspired by her 1883 performance as Rosalind was the Bauer's Candy Company of Louisville that they created a "Kentucky Modjeska," which now sounds like a racehorse or porn star handle. (I wonder what confection today's sexy and talent stars merit. I like to imagine savoring a chewy Winslet or a creamy Jolie or, yes, even a rich, dark Clooney. Yum.)

To read the rest, click here.


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