1723 – 1803 A.D.
Mlle. Clairon, a French actress, commonly know as “La Clairon,” whose real name was Clair Hippolyte Léris, made her first appearance in 1743 in the Théâtre Français, Paris, as Phêdre. She obtained a veritable triumph and remained at this theatre for twenty-two years, dividing the honors with her rival Mlle. Dumesnil.
Some of her greatest achievements were in the classical rôles of tragedy, and she created many parts in Voltaire’s plays. She is also remembered as an innovator, who endeavored to bring about a more rational mode of costuming than was at that time conventional upon the stage.
In 1766 she retired, and trained dramatic pupils, while in her old age she wrote a book of Memoirs, published in Paris in 1799, which gives many interesting details concerning her art, and is full of lively an anecdotes.
Mlle. Clairon was of small stature, but with beauty both vivacious and dignified, and she was gifted with a remarkable voice. Goldsmith called her “the most perfect female figure I have ever seen on any stage,” and Garrick said: “she has everything that art and a good understanding with great natural spirit can give her.”
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.