Zelma Hedin

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Zelma Hedin
Born Zelma Carolina Esolinda Bergnéhr
31 May 1827
Stockholm, Sweden
Died 11 February 1874 (age 46)
Stockholm, Sweden
Other names Zelma Bergnéhr, Zelma Kinmansson, Zelma Bergmansson
Spouse(s) Gustaf Kinmansson, Gustaf Hedin

Zelma Carolina Esolinda Hedin, née Bergnéhr, also called Zelma Kinmansson and Zelma Bergmansson, (Stockholm, 31 May 1827 – Stockholm, 11 February 1874), was a Swedish stage actress, regarded as one of the greatest stars on the stage of the Royal Dramatic Theatre of Stockholm during the 1840s and 1860s in the mid 19th century.

Biography and career

Zelma Hedin was born in Stockholm to Captain Lorentz August Bergnéhr and Charlotta Wilhelmina Christina Philp. Her sister, Leocadi Bergnéhr-Fossmo, became an opera star at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen, and her cousin Laura Bergnéhr (d. 1852), was an actress at Mindre teatern 1847-52. Zelma Hedin became a student at Dramatens elevskola in 1840, debuted in 1842 and was contracted as premier actress in 1845.

She was described as beautiful, gracious and tasteful in her costume, and made her greatest triumphs in so called French salon-comedys, a popular genre where she was seen as the successor of Emilie Högquist, and became the female lead on the Royal Dramatic Theatre in the 1850s. She also took over the part of coquette from Charlotta Almlöf: the critics had always criticized Almlöf for being superficial, but for Hedin : "Flirtasioness seemed to me to be a profession". She was considered perfect in false, proud, cunning and plotting parts and called : "Truly Parisian".

As a person, she has also ben taken as an example of the infected rivalry within her profession on the royal theatre. In 1856–57, she was "without rivals", and it was said that she played the part of a "Grande Intrigante" both on and outside of the stage and exerted an influence "which was not without opposition" from her colleagues. In 1856, Elise Hwasser was given a salary of 6.000, and Hedin was given the same after threatening to resign. As a comparission, the lead opera singer Louise Michaeli had 8.000, and the male dramatic star actor Nils Almlöf ad 3.000.

Among her parts where Elisabet in "Doktor Wespe" (Doctor Wespe), Georgina in "Qväkaren och dansösen" (The Quaker and the dancer) by Scribe, Richelieu in "Richelieus första vapenbragd" (The first bravery of Richelieu) by Bayard, Sofie Arnould in "Jag äter middag hos min mor" (I will be having dinner with my mother), mrs de Nohan in "Den gifte mannen i staden och på landet" (The married man in the city and in the country), and Mrs. Montjoye in "Montjoye" by Dalayrac; she also performed as Rosaura in "Lifvet en dröm" (Life is a dream) by Calderon, Mossamor in "Marsk Stigs döttrar" (The daughters of Marschal Stig) by Josephsson and the "burlesuqe" part of mrs Godard in "En fattig ädling" (A poor noble) by Dumanoir.

She also performed as a singer in concerts, as in Åbo in Finland in 1857.

Hedin broke her leg in 1865, and retired after the 1867–68 season. She performed as a guest artist in the 1871–72 season. In 1873, she arranged a soaré at the theatre Södra Teatern in Stockholm, where she performed in public for the last time.

Zelma Hedin was married in 1845 to the actor Gustaf Kinmansson. They divorced after mutual agreement in 1853, and after one year, during which she called herself Mrs Bergmansson, the both remarried; him with the actress Helfrid Torsslow, child of Sara Torsslow, and she with the accountant Gustaf Hedin, brother of the actor Anders Hedin.