Sylvia Herpolscheimer was a Stage actress in the 1900s and the founder of the Sylvia Herpolscheimer Academy of Performing Art.
She was born to George and Georgina Herpolscheimer, Canadian missionaries, in Budapest, Hungary in Feruary of 1882. She spent the first years of her life traveling about eastern Europw with her parents. During this time she was exposed to many different cultures and traditions. In her later years she would credit this as the foundation for her love of the arts.
She returned to British Colombia in 1889, when her father took a postion as the pastor of a local Preysbeterian chrurch. Sylvia was always involved with the church, and it is here where she began her love of performing, often singing in the choir, and performing in the church Christmas pagent.
During high school sylvia became a sensation in the drama department, landing the lead in every school production beginning her sophomore year. Her drama teacher, James Fourclouds, would later remark that "...Sylvia was a natural. She understood the every nuance of each character she played....It was often difficult to discern where the charater ended and where the real Sylvia began."
In 1900 Sylvia decided that she would follow her dream, pursuing a degree in drama from Webster University in St. Louis, Mossurii. She graduated with honors in 1905. She would later remark in her autobiography that her time in college "... opened my mind to the full spectrum of the performing arts," saying, "...music and dance wre no longer just words. They were emotions, feeling, goals, and pursuits."
Follwing graduation she married one of her former professors, Josh Grobinstrap. He was 15 years Sylvia's senior, but there love was strong, with Sylvia saying, "he fostered my creativity and schooled me in the ways of the world." Unfortunatally Josh's health began to deteriorate shortly after their marrige, from what would later be diagnosed as Tuberculosis of the spine. They moved to Seward county Nebraska in November 1906. Josh had been raised on a large ranch there. His family had passed away, years earlier leaving josh with a sizable inheritance. Unfortunatally, Josh's condition took a turn for the worse, and he passed away on December, 24th 1906.
Sylvia donated a large portion of the land to the community, which would later dam the river running through it creating the Herpolscheimer resovoir.
Sylvia then moved to New York city, stating, "i was now wealthy and widdowed...and i knew that Josh would have wanted me to pursue my dream and his passion." she hired an agent, who encouraged her to use a stage name. She chose Sylvia LeFlour.
Sylvia quickly landed several small supporting roles in Major broadway plays, which led to the lead in several off braoadway productions. It seemed Sylvia was on her way. She garnered several excellent reviews. in her biography she states, "i was on my way, i was playing excellent characters, connecting with the audience, and the people who knew were talking about me."
It was at this point that tragedy struck again. Her mother, still living in Canada with her father, was killed when an ox cart overturned near the where she had been gathering acorns. Sylvia was crushed and returned to comfort her father, who had began to drink heavily as his congregation began to falter. Sylvia did her best to inspire her father and turn him around, but the death of his wife was too much, and he took his own life on October 30, 1910.
Sylvia settled her parents affairs, but before returning to New York, for the start of rehersal for her first major role in a broadway play she would make one last trip to her fathers former church. She lit two candles for her parents and sat down in a pew, remarking in her biography that, "i was exhausted from the turmoil." she fell asleep, and later awoke in outside to yelling and screaming. "i had fallen asleep. i did not know the fire had started. That i had caused the fire. That i had destroyed my father's church." she was pulled from the fire, before she was killed, but not before she recieved severe burns to her head and neck.
The injuries ended her on stage career, but not her love of the arts. She was wealthy form her husbands inheritance, and she was now the owner of her parents large home near Vancouver, british Colombia. "i could no longer perform, but i could help others to do so' she would say.
This is when she decided to found the Sylvia Herpolscheimer Academy of Performance Art. It quickly became very popular locally, and gradually gained popularity throughout the pacific northwest and western Canada. Sylvia brought in guest teachers and gradually expanded the curriculum.
Sylvia passed away on February, 14th 1939, from complications of breast cancer and a long battle with depression on opiate abuse. She left the school and her fortune to her 2nd cousin, Jesse Parsenchapsen, her only surviving relative.
The school would go through difficult times over the years with expansions, clossings, and reopenings and finally a fire in?. The school briefly reopened again in 2006, but closed in 2007. However, due to a generous donation by an onknown person the school is currently being rebuilt on its original grounds, under the managment of Jesse's grand daughter Rebecca Parsenchapsen.