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.