Modjeska, Helena (məjĕˈskə) [key], 1844–1909, Polish actress who achieved fame in the United States primarily for her Shakespearean interpretations. After initial acclaim in Warsaw, she emigrated in 1876 to the United States with her second husband. Despite her faulty English, she was an immediate success in Adrienne Lecouvreur in San Francisco a year later. Her portrayal (1883) of Nora in A Doll's House at Louisville, Ky., marked the first production of Ibsen in the United States. After playing opposite Edwin Booth (1889–90) she toured the United States with Otis Skinner and Maurice Barrymore.
See her Memories and Impressions (1910, repr. 1969); biographies by A. Gronowicz (1956), M. Coleman (1969), and B. Holmgren (2011).