Due to the overwhelming public interest in her, Sarah Bernhardt is widely considered to be the world's first celebrity, and is still revered today. It was Sarah Bernhardt, born in Paris in 1844, as well known in her lifetime as Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe or Lady Gaga in hers. Nowadays it may seem inconceivable that a stage actor could achieve this level of fame, but in the 19th century, before cinema, radio and the Internet, theater was the only game in town. Both the rich and the poor attended live performances several times a week.
London, New York and Paris attracted 18 million spectators a year. Small towns also had theaters and major stars traveled to them; one of Bernhardt's many tours of the United States included a stop in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Lucy Riall analyzes the life and career of the Italian nationalist and soldier Giuseppe Garibaldi, and the circumstances in which he became the first celebrity of the modern political era. Celebrity is a condition of fame and wide public recognition of a person or group as a result of media attention.
A person can achieve celebrity status by having great wealth, their participation in sports or the entertainment industry, their position as a political figure, or even because of their connection with another celebrity. The restaurants near the theaters, where the actors met, began to place cartoons or photographs of actors on the walls of famous people at the end of the 19th century. Lillie Langtry, an object of great interest among the public and the media, made her debut in the West End theater in 1881 and made a splash in London by becoming the first figure in high society to take the stage. The following year she became the poster girl for Pears Soap, becoming the first celebrity to promote a commercial product.
In 1895, poet and playwright Oscar Wilde was the subject of one of the first celebrity trials.