Eleonora Duse (dōō´zə, Ital. ālāōnô´rä dōō´zā), 1859–1924, Italian actress. From a theatrical family, she made a successful appearance at 14 as Juliet and in 1879 gained recognition in Emilé Zola's Thérèse Raquin. In 1893, in New York and London, her portrayal of Dumas's La Dame aux camélias was extraordinarily sensitive and deep. With her portrayal in 1895, in Paris, of Magda in Hermann Sudermann's Heimat, she became the only rival of Sarah Bernhardt. For some years a romantic attachment existed between Duse and the Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, whose plays she was often the first to present and champion. She appeared in the film Cenere (1916), which she also directed. A great interpreter of Ibsen, she made her farewell appearance (1923) in his Lady from the Sea in New York. Duse's acting was characterized by simplicity, subtlety, and a lack of theatrical artifice. She excelled in emotional parts, and her dramatic power, however restrained, was tremendous in its effect. A slender woman of melancholy appearance, she was an independent and enigmatic personality who disdained publicity.
See biographies by J. Stubbs (1971), E. Le Gallienne (1966), W. Weaver (1984), and H. Sheehy (2003).