Lantelme bio (part 2)

Her Conservatoire studies weren’t successful because Lantelme comedy talent was far from academic theatre manner. At the end of course she didn’t obtain any prize and soon returned to the work under her ordinary stage name.

Since 1 April 1905 she performed in “L’Age d’Aimer” by Pierre Wolff. The leading part was played by famous (but already not young) actress Réjane.

Geneviève Lantelme in L’Age d’Aimer. Scan from Le Theatre # 154 , May 1905

Réjane in a dress by Doucet, Les Modes, February 1903.

Giovanni Boldini. Madame Réjane.

When Réjane knew that her friend Alfred Edwards, a media tycoon and amateur playwright, had written a play “Par Ricochet” and was looking for an actress, she introduced Lantelme to him. Soon Lantelme became his mistress, and this relationship marked her life.

Alfred Edwards. Scan from Le Theatre.

Alfred Edwards also helped Réjane to open her own theatre, le théatre Réjane. First play put on stage there was “La Savelli” written by Max Maurey, an old fashioned history drama in a Victorien Sardou style. (Many years ago Réjane became a star after she played in “Madame Sans-Gêne” by Sardou.) And Sardou himself was involved as a director.

Sem. The opening of theatre Réjane. Scan from L’Illustration. Here we can see Wolff, Sardou, Capus, Feydeau, Polaire, Edwards…

Lantelme in a play La Savelli at theatre Réjane. Scan from Le Theatre.


Réjane, photo by Nadar. Old postcard.

Lantelme signed a contract and was engaged since September 1906, but she hadn’t much to play because Réjane always played leading parts. In January 1908 Lantelme broke the contract and left the theatre. Réjane immediately brought an action against her. Lantelme lost and had to pay 20 000 francs, very big money (she earned only 600 by month in theatre Réjane). It may be one of reasons why she didn’t leave rich Edwards who could arrange everything.

In spite of all the troubles 1908 is for Lantelme a lucky year because at last she gets a leading part in a star play. It’s a comedy “Le Roi” written by Caillavet, de Flers and Arène. Lantelme played Marthe Bourdier, called Youyou, a role performed before by Eve Lavallière. From 8 November 1908 to September 1909 Lantelme incarnates Youyou about 300 times. Her photos appear on Le Theatre covers, on numerous postcards and in fashion magazines like Les Modes or Femina.

Lantelme as Marthe Bourdier on the cover of Le Theatre # 238, 15 November 1908.

Le théatre des Variétés (Paris Variétés theatre) where Lantelme had her biggest success in Le Roi.

During these years (1906-1909) Lantelme is struggling for Edwards with his wife number 4, Misia Godebska (ex-Nathanson and future Misia Sert). Neither Misia nor Lantelme loved him – all they needed were just his fortune and influence.

Renoir. Portrait of Misia Sert.

After all Lantelme, who was younger and more beautiful, won the battle. Edwards divorced Misia and married Lantelme in the city of Rouen, to avoid any publicity. Poor deserted Misia got 48 000 francs by year as a little consolation.

Hôtel de ville at Rouen where Alfred Edwards married Geneviève Lantelme (1). Old postcard.

Hôtel d’Angleterre at Rouen where the newly married couple had lunch after the marriage (2). Old postcards.


(1) Mayen, p. 104

(2) Mayen, p. 106.

(to be continued)

Pictures not marked as scans found at gallica, delcampe and other internet sites.


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