Claudette Colbert


Actor
Claudette Colbert

About

Also Known As
Lily Emilie Chauchoin
Birth Place
Paris, FR
Born
September 13, 1903
Died
July 30, 1996
Cause of Death
Complications From A Stroke

Biography

Inimitably charming, witty and sophisticated star of American films from the start of talkies till the mid-1950s, and later a most welcome presence on the stage and in occasional TV. Born in Paris, Claudette Colbert moved to New York when her banker father encountered financial setbacks. Initially intending to become a commercial artist, she studied with speech teacher Alice Rossetter to...

Photos & Videos

Boom Town - Publicity Stills
It Happened One Night - Lobby Cards
Since You Went Away - Movie Poster

Family & Companions

Norman Foster
Husband
Actor, director. Married in 1927; Colbert did not live with him and kept marriage a secret for many years; divorced in August 1935 in Mexico.
Clark Gable
Companion
Actor. Reportedly had affair during filming of "It Happened One Night".
Joel Jay Pressman
Husband
Doctor. Married on December 24, 1935 until his death from liver cancer on February 28, 1968.
Helen O'Hagan
Companion
Was Colbert's companion from c. 1970.

Notes

Besides her Oscar for "It Happened One Night" (1934), Colbert was also nominated as Best Actress for "Private Worlds" (1935) and "Since You Went Away" (1944). She was also nominated for a Tony for her stage work in "The Marriage Go-Round" (1958) and an Emmy for "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" (1987).

Colbert is the only actress to star in three films nominated for Best Picture in the same year (1934), three prestigious films of the day which confirmed her as a "top" star: Cecil B. DeMille's playful, sexy epic, "Cleopatra"; John Stahl's notable interracial/mother-love tearjerker, "Imitation of Life", and Frank Capra's aforementioned landmark comedy, "It Happened One Night", which won.

Biography

Inimitably charming, witty and sophisticated star of American films from the start of talkies till the mid-1950s, and later a most welcome presence on the stage and in occasional TV. Born in Paris, Claudette Colbert moved to New York when her banker father encountered financial setbacks. Initially intending to become a commercial artist, she studied with speech teacher Alice Rossetter to overcome a slight lisp. Rossetter encouraged Colbert to audition for a play she had just written, "The Widow's Veil" (1919), and so one of the most durable careers in show business began with an appearance as an Irish bride (complete with red wig and brogue).

Colbert made her Broadway debut four years later in "The Wild Westcotts" and managed to keep busy in a series of mostly unrewarding stage roles. In 1925 playwright Frederick Lonsdale insisted that Colbert be replaced in the lead role of his "The Fake." Forced to either leave the show or accept the role of understudy (she chose the latter) the disheartened ingenue could not have foreseen that sixty years later she would be starring on Broadway at age 82 in a revival of Lonsdale's "Aren't We All?" (1985).

Colbert's break came in 1927 when she essayed a role that would later seem like classic miscasting: the sluttish Lou in "The Barker." Her seductive use of her trim figure led Walter Winchell to dub her "Legs" Colbert (an apt nickname given the means by which Colbert's character in "It Happened One Night" practiced the fine art of hitchhiking). Playing the object of Lou's seductive wiles was boyish Norman Foster, who would soon become Colbert's first husband. The success of "The Barker" led to Colbert's screen debut (and her only silent feature), "For the Love of Mike," directed by Frank Capra. After the film was panned critically and failed financially, its leading lady vowed, "I shall never make another film."

Two years later, however, unable to follow up the success of "The Barker," Colbert took another stab at the movies, signing with Paramount and working at the old Astoria studios so that she could continue her New York stage work. Her carefully modulated alto voice and brisk sincerity quickly gained critical approval in a series of modest soaps and melodramas. Moving to Hollywood, her career rose with such notable features as "The Smiling Lieutenant" (1931, directed by Ernst Lubitsch), Cecil B. DeMille's "The Sign of the Cross" (1932), in which Colbert's Empress Poppaea took a famous bath in asses' milk, and James Cruze's "I Cover the Waterfront" (1933), where she touchingly portayed a child of the wharves who must choose between a transgressive father and a crusading reporter.

It was, however, with "It Happened One Night" (1934, also directed by Capra), that Colbert, on loan-out to struggling Columbia Pictures, really achieved top stardom. Cast as the silk purse which held Clark Gable's rough diamond, Colbert's chic elegance and supple wisecracking were matched by a low-key warmth and humanity that audiences fell for. Convinced that a comedy performance could not cop her the Best Actress Oscar for the year, Colbert was on board a train for New York when she was stopped and whisked to the Academy ceremonies to collect her prize. She had reached her peak and continued in a series of roles that epitomized the tongue-in-cheek Colbert persona: secretaries and struggling actresses who captivate the horsey set ("The Gilded Lily," "She Married Her Boss," both 1935), aristocrats who work as maids or working women who masquerade as aristocrats ("Tovarich" 1937; the superb "Midnight" 1939, one of her best), and young society matrons who indulge in screwball antics ("Bluebeard's Eighth Wife" 1938, unfortunately her only other film with Lubitsch; Preston Sturges's zany classic, "The Palm Beach Story" 1942).

With her round apple-face, prominent cheekbones, trademark curled bangs, puissant playfulness and glistening timing, Colbert is usually associated with romantic comedy. She also distinguished herself, though, in dramas ranging from the pioneering psychological study, "Private Worlds" (1935) to the gentle slice of schoolteacher Americana, "Remember the Day" (1941). Free-lancing more as the 1940s progressed, she did not eschew mother roles in such films as the moving if overly idealized "Mrs. Miniver in America" saga, "Since You Went Away" (1944). Several of her late 40s films (especially the modest "The Egg and I" 1947, which launched the highly popular Ma and Pa Kettle characters in supporting roles) did well enough at the boxoffice to sustain her career, but apart from the restrained, sensible study of women in Japanese concentration camps, "Three Came Home" (1950), Colbert's film career gradually declined in quality, activity and scope. "Let's Make It Legal" (1951) was a belated farewell to the type of comedy she had made her own, while "Texas Lady" (1955) was a watchable but routine Western which only utilized Colbert's zest.

TV took up much of the slack in the mid-50s; Colbert also returned to the stage opposite fellow sophisticates Noel Coward (in "Island Fling") and Charles Boyer (in "The Marriage Go-Round"). Apart from a notable period of inactivity in the late 60s after the death of her second husband, Colbert's later career was marked by several very successful comebacks on both stage ("The Kingfisher" 1978) and TV ("The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" 1987) where she displayed the same stylishness and intelligence which made her such a wonderful archetype of the modern working woman.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Going Hollywood: The War Years (1988)
Herself
Parrish (1961)
Ellen McLean
Texas Lady (1955)
Prudence Webb
Royal Affairs in Versailles (1954)
Madame De Montespan
Daughters of Destiny (1954)
Outpost in Malaya (1952)
Liz Frazer
Thunder on the Hill (1951)
Sister Mary [Bonaventure]
Let's Make It Legal (1951)
Miriam Halsworth
Three Came Home (1950)
Agnes Newton Keith
The Secret Fury (1950)
Ellen [Ewing McLean]
Family Honeymoon (1949)
Katie Armstrong Jordan
Bride for Sale (1949)
Nora [W.] Shelley
Sleep, My Love (1948)
Alison Courtland
The Egg and I (1947)
Betty
The Secret Heart (1946)
Lee Addams
Without Reservations (1946)
[Christopher] Kit [Madden, also known as Kit Klotch]
Tomorrow Is Forever (1946)
Elizabeth MacDonald Hamilton
Guest Wife (1945)
Mary Price
Since You Went Away (1944)
Anne Hilton
Practically Yours (1944)
Peggy Martin
No Time for Love (1943)
Katherine Grant
So Proudly We Hail! (1943)
Lieut. Janet "Davey" Davidson
Remember the Day (1942)
Nora Trinell
The Palm Beach Story (1942)
Gerry Jeffers
Skylark (1941)
Lydia Kenyon
Arise, My Love (1940)
Augusta ["Gusto"] Nash
Boom Town (1940)
Betsy Bartlett [McMasters]
Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)
Lana "Magdelana" [Borst]
It's a Wonderful World (1939)
Edwina Corday
Zaza (1939)
Zaza
Midnight (1939)
Eve Peabody
Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938)
Nicole De Loiselle
Maid of Salem (1937)
Barbara Clarke
I Met Him in Paris (1937)
Kay Denham
Tovarich (1937)
Tatiana [Tina, The Grand Duchess Petrovna]
Under Two Flags (1936)
Cigarette
The Bride Comes Home (1936)
Jeanette Desmereau
She Married Her Boss (1935)
Julia Scott
The Gilded Lily (1935)
Marilyn David
Private Worlds (1935)
Doctor Jane Everest
It Happened One Night (1934)
Ellie [Andrews]
Imitation of Life (1934)
Beatrice Pullman
Cleopatra (1934)
Cleopatra
Four Frightened People (1934)
Judy Jones
I Cover the Waterfront (1933)
Julie Kirk
Three Cornered Moon (1933)
Elizabeth Rimplegar
Torch Singer (1933)
Sally Trent [also known as] Mimi Benton
Tonight Is Ours (1933)
[Queen] Nadya
The Phantom President (1932)
Felicia Hammond
The Misleading Lady (1932)
Helen Steele
The Man from Yesterday (1932)
Sylvia Suffolk
The Wiser Sex (1932)
Margaret Hughes [also known as Ruby Kennedy]
The Sign of the Cross (1932)
Poppaea
Make Me a Star (1932)
His Woman (1931)
Sally Clark
The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)
Franzi
Secrets of a Secretary (1931)
Helen Blake
Honor Among Lovers (1931)
Julia Traynor
Young Man of Manhattan (1930)
Ann Vaughn
The Big Pond (1930)
Barbara Billings
La grande mare (1930)
Barbara Billings
Manslaughter (1930)
Lydia Thorne
L'énigmatique Mr. Parkes (1930)
Lucy
The Lady Lies (1929)
Joyce Roamer
The Hole in the Wall (1929)
Jean Oliver
For the Love of Mike (1927)
Mary

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Going Hollywood: The War Years (1988)
Other

Cast (Special)

The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1989)
The American Film Institute Salute to Frank Capra (1982)
Performer
The Bells of St. Mary's (1959)
Sister Benedict
The Claudette Colbert Show (1958)
Elizabeth Harper
The Guardsman (1955)
Wife

Cast (Short)

Hollywood Goes to Town (1938)
Herself
Breakdowns of 1938 (1938)
Herself
The Hollywood You Never See (1934)
Herself

Misc. Crew (Short)

Claudette Colbert (1962)
Archival Footage

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1987)

Life Events

1912

Moved from Paris to New York after father suffered financial reverses in the banking business

1919

Made stage debut at the Provincetown Playhouse in "The Widow's Veil", written by her speech teacher, Alice Rossetter

1923

Made Broadway stage debut in "The Wild Westcotts"

1925

Replaced in leading role of Frederick Lonsdale's "The Fake"

1926

Traveled to Paris; returned to New York to comply with five-year contract she had recently signed with producer Al Woods

1927

Enjoyed major Broadway success as the female lead in "The Barker"

1927

Film acting debut in the silent, "For the Love of Mike"

1928

Film contract with First National aborted after failure of first film

1928

Journeyed with Foster to Paris to recreate their stage roles in "The Barker"

1928

Marriage to Norman Foster (in 1927) revealed by New York columnist

1928

Signed film contract with Paramount which enabled her to continue stage career

1929

Played leading roles in two unsuccessful plays by noted playwrights Eugene O'Neill ("Dynamo") and Elmer Rice ("See Naples and Die", her last stage appearance for over 20 years)

1929

Made talking film debut in second film, "The Hole in the Wall"

1931

Position in film industry elevated by success of Ernst Lubitsch's popular "The Smiling Lieutenant"

1932

Appeared in largest film to date: as Poppaea in Cecil B. DeMille's epic, "The Sign of the Cross"

1932

Briefly went off salary for refusing bland roles

1933

Renegotiated contract with Paramount; allowed to appear in films at other studios

1934

Enjoyed landmark career success in Frank Capra's popular and acclaimed Oscar-winner, "It Happened One Night" while on loan to Columbia

1934

Signed new two-year contract with Paramount; earned $5000 per week

1935

Co-starred opposite Fred MacMurray for the first of seven films together (in his first substantial lead) in the popular "The Gilded Lily"

1935

Was named best-dressed actress in Hollywood

1936

Negotiated new contract with Paramount which called for seven films at $150,000 per film

1936

Plans to star as Joan of Arc in a film directed by Anatole Litvak fell through

1938

Was the sixth top money-making woman in America with an income of $301,944 ($50,000 less than she had made the year before, when she placed fourteenth)

1939

Starred in first color film, "Drums Along the Mohawk", directed by John Ford and co-starring Henry Fonda

1941

Joined with Ronald Colman, Charles Boyer, Irene Dunne, Lewis Milestone and Anatole Litvak to form producing unit at Twentieth-Century Fox; Colbert starred in Fox film, "Remember the Day"

1944

Played a mother with teen-aged daughters for the first time in David O. Selznick's acclaimed homefront saga, "Since You Went Away"

1945

Left Paramount Pictures after having spent most of her starring career there; last film under contract, "Practically Yours"

1947

Made motion picture exhibitor's poll of top ten box office stars; placed 9th

1948

Replaced by Katharine Hepburn in leading role in "State of the Union" after disagreements with director Frank Capra

1950

Replaced in leading role in "All About Eve" by Bette Davis after suffering severe back injury

1951

Made TV debut on "The Jack Benny Show"

1951

Starred opposite Noel Coward in successful stage presentation of "Island Fling/South Sea Bubble"

1951

Announcments made that she would star in a TV series, "Leave It to Lizabeth"; filmed pilot, but backed out of series commitment

1951

Starred in last screen romantic comedy, "Let's Make It Legal"

1952

Traveled to England to star in "Outpost in Malaya"

1952

Worked in Europe in film and theater; made fewer films, but starred in two in France

1954

Made pact with CBS to star in five teleplays after successful appearance in "The Royal Family of Broadway"

1955

Last starring role in an American feature film, "Texas Lady"

1956

Replaced Margaret Sullavan in the female lead of the Broadway play, "Janus"

1958

Returned to Broadway to originate a role after 27 years to star opposite Charles Boyer in the popular sex farce, "The Marriage Go-Round"

1959

Last major acting role on TV for 25 years, in "The Bells of St. Mary's"

1961

One-shot return to films: played Troy Donahue's mother in the popular soap opera, "Parrish"

1963

Appeared in Maxwell House Coffee TV commercials and billboard advertisements

1965

Made last stage appearance for almost a decade, opposite Brian Ahearne in "Diplomatic Relations"

1969

Announced that she was going to write a book entitled "How to Run a House" for her friend's Bennett Cerf's Random House Press; book did not materialize

1972

Made rare public appearance at the "Fabulous Forties" nostalgia night at Manhattan's Roseland

1974

Returned to the stage to appear in "A Community of Two" in Philadelphia

1978

Returned to Broadway to star opposite Rex Harrison in "The Kingfisher"

1981

Acted on Broadway in "A Talent for Murder"

1982

Appeared on the American Film Institute's televised salute to Frank Capra

1984

A building at the old Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York (where she had made her first films for Paramount) was renamed in her honor

1984

Received tribute for lifetime achievement from the Film Society of Lincoln Center

1987

Returned to TV to star opposite Ann-Margret in two-part film, "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles"

1991

Career celebrated with ceremony and retrospective at New York University

Photo Collections

Boom Town - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from Boom Town (1940). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
It Happened One Night - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934), starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Since You Went Away - Movie Poster
Here is an "advance" One-sheet movie poster for Since You Went Away (1944). The poster copy touts the previous successes of producer David O. Selznick.
Imitation of Life (1934) - Movie Posters
Here are a few original movie posters from Universal's Imitation of Life (1934), starring Claudette Colbert and Warren William.
It's a Wonderful World - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for It's a Wonderful World (1939). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Midnight - Movie Poster
Here is the original-release one-sheet movie poster for Paramount's Midnight (1939), starring Claudette Colbert and Dom Ameche. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Thunder on the Hill - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Thunder on the Hill (1951), directed by Douglas Sirk and starring Claudette Colbert. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Thunder on the Hill - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from Universal Pictures' Thunder on the Hill (1951), starring Claudette Colbert, Ann Blyth, and Philip Friend. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, taken for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Thunder on the Hill - Scene Stills
Here are several scene stills from Universal Pictures' Thunder on the Hill (1951), directed by Douglas Sirk and starring Claudette Colbert and Ann Blyth.
The Gilded Lily - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Paramount Pictures' The Gilded Lily (1935), starring Claudette Colbert, Fred MacMurray, and Ray Milland. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The Gilded Lily - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Paramount Pictures' The Gilded Lily (1935), starring Claudette Colbert.
The Gilded Lily - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from Paramount Pictures' The Gilded Lily (1935), starring Claudette Colbert, Fred MacMurray, and Ray Milland. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, taken for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Gilded Lily - Scene Stills
The Gilded Lily - Scene Stills
The Bride Comes Home - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from Paramount's The Bride Comes Home (1935), starring Claudette Colbert, Fred MacMurray, and Robert Young. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The Bride Comes Home - Jumbo Lobby Cards
Here are a few Jumbo Lobby Cards from Paramount's The Bride Comes Home (1935), starring Claudette Colbert, Fred MacMurray, and Robert Young. Jumbo Lobby Cards were 14" x 17" borderless posters; they were much less common than standard lobby cards.
The Bride Comes Home - Herald
Here is the herald for Paramount Pictures' The Bride Comes Home (1935), starring Claudette Colbert, Fred MacMurray, and Robert Young. Heralds were advertising handouts that studios provided to theater owners for distribution around their town.
The Bride Comes Home - Publicity Stills
Here are several Publicity Stills from Paramount Pictures' The Bride Comes Home (1935), starring Claudette Colbert, Fred MacMurray, and Robert Young. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, taken for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Bride Comes Home - Scene Stills
The Bride Comes Home - Scene Stills
The Gilded Lily - Herald
Here is the herald for Paramount Pictures' The Gilded Lily (1935). Heralds were advertising handouts that studios provided to theater owners for distribution around their town. This particular herald is cleverly designed to look like a typical fan magazine of the day.
Family Honeymoon - Scene Stills
Family Honeymoon - Scene Stills
Thunder on the Hill - Movie Posters
Here are a few movie posters from Universal Pictures' Thunder on the Hill (1951), directed by Douglas Sirk and starring Claudette Colbert and Ann Blyth.
Family Honeymoon - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Universal Pictures' Family Honeymoon (1948), starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Family Honeymoon - Movie Poster
Here is an original release movie poster from Universal Pictures' Family Honeymoon (1948), starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray.
Family Honeymoon - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from Universal Pictures' Family Honeymoon (1948), starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, taken for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Gilded Lily - Movie Posters
Here are a few original release movie posters from Paramount Pictures' The Gilded Lily (1935), starring Claudette Colbert, Fred MacMurray, and Ray Milland.
The Bride Comes Home - Movie Poster
The Bride Comes Home - Movie Poster
Tomorrow is Forever - Lobby Cards
Here are a few lobby cards from RKO's Tomorrow is Forever (1946), starring Claudette Colbert and Orson Welles. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Sign of the Cross - Lobby Cards
Here are several lobby cards from Cecil B. De Mille's Sign of the Cross (1933). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Claudette Colbert - State Express Cigarette Cards
These are small cigarette cards of actress Claudette Colbert. These trading cards were included in Cigarette packs in the 30's and 40's and were collectible items. Customers could even purchase books to organize and collect these cards. State Express was an active Cigarette Card producer, creating a wide range of cards featuring famous people of which film stars were an often popular draw.
Claudette Colbert Cigarette Card
This is a small cigarette card for actress Claudette Colbert. These cards were included in Cigarette packs in the 30's and 40's and were collectible items. Customers could even purchase books to organize and collect these cards. John Player & Sons was an active Cigarette Card producer, creating a wide range of cards featuring famous people of which film stars were an often popular draw.

Videos

Movie Clip

Drums Along The Mohawk (1939) - At The Borst Home The first scene in director John Ford’s first color (Technicolor) film, Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert as colonials Gil and Lana are married in Albany, New York, 1776, cinematography credit shared by Bert Glennon and Ray Rennahan, Edwin Maxwell the celebrant, Robert Grieg and Clara Blandick her parents, opening Drums Along The Mohawk, 1939.
Drums Along The Mohawk (1939) - Taste Of A Widow Gil (Henry Fonda), recruited into the Continental Army, gets farewell wishes from Lana (Claudette Colbert) and an earthy gesture from Mrs. McKlennar (Edna May Oliver), then marches, in John Ford's Drums Along The Mohawk, 1939.
Drums Along The Mohawk (1939) - You Got A Fine Woman First night in the frontier cabin, Lana (Claudette Colbert) comes unglued when Blue Back (Chief Big Tree) appears, Gil (Henry Fonda) trying to recover, in John Ford's Technicolor Revolutionary War drama Drums Along The Mohawk, 1939.
It Happened One Night (1934) - Long Line Of Stubborn Idiots Madcap heiress Ellie (Claudette Colbert) establishing bona-fides with some bite, for her father Alexander (Walter Connolly), opening Frank Capra's It Happened One Night, 1934, also starring Clark Gable.
Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938) - I'll Buy The Trousers Continuing the opening scene, the emphatic meet-cute, from the first screenplay collaboration by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, Ernst Lubitsch directing, as Claudette Colbert appears, in a French Riviera department store, rescuing Gary Cooper as a rich American who’s refusing to buy pajama-pants he doesn’t need, with Rolfe Sedan and Lionel Pape, in Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife, 1938.
Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938) - American Understood The opening shot established the French Riviera, now we meet Gary Cooper, the implied American, shopping, met by Rolfe Sedan, then Lionel Pape, which leads to Charles Halton on the phone, in Ernst Lubitsch’s Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife, 1938, also starring Claudette Colbert, from a screenplay by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder.
Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938) - How Does One Get A Job? Claudette Colbert as financially-challenged French Riviera denizen Nicole arrives on the beach, meeting David Niven as pal Albert, when they’re confronted by Gary Cooper as American millionaire Brandon who, we discover, has bought a bathtub from her equally impoverished dad, aiming to woo her, in Ernst Lubitsch’s Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife, 1938.
Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938) - It's The Same Ocean! With French Riviera hotel staff (Franklin Pangborn accompanied by Armand Cortes) offering new rooms, Gary Cooper as the still not-named American millionaire who’s having trouble sleeping, the surprise appearance of Edward Everett Horton as the Marquis, in Ernst Lubitsch’s Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife, 1938, also starring Claudette Colbert.
Since You Went Away (1944) - Opening, Alone After the overture, home-fires burning with opening credits and the beginning of Anne (Claudette Colbert, narrating) framing David Selznick's home-front epic Since You Went Away 1944.
Since You Went Away (1944) - Mrs. Hilton, I Presume? Col. Smollett (Monty Woolley) follows a rejected applicant and rents the room from Anne (Claudette Colbert), Jane (Jennifer Jones) and Brig (Shirley Temple) observing, in William Wyler's home-front drama Since You Went Away, 1944.
Since You Went Away (1944) - The Eternal Also-Ran Anne (Claudette Colbert) meets divorcee Emily (Agnes Moorehead) for a drink, social commentary overheard, and Tony (Joseph Cotten) appearing, in David Selznick's home-front saga Since You Went Away, 1944.
Let's Make It Legal (1951) - No Staying Power With daughter Barbara (Bates) and son-in-law Jerry (Robert Wagner) observing, almost-divorced Hugh (MacDonald Carey) has wife Miriam (Claudette Colbert) almost convinced he’s quit gambling when the phone rings, leaving a path for back-in-town ex-beau Victor (Zachary Scott), in Let’s Make It Legal, 1951.

Trailer

It Happened One Night - (Original Trailer) A newspaperman (Clark Gable) tracks a runaway heiress (Claudette Colbert) on a madcap cross-country tour in It Happened One Night (1934), directed by Frank Capra.
Without Reservations - (Re-issue trailer) John Wayne and Claudette Colbert star in Without Reservations (1946) about a woman writer and a war hero.
So Proudly We Hail! - (Original Trailer) Nurses caught behind enemy lines during World War II fight to survive in So Proudly We Hail! (1943) starring Claudette Colbert and Paulette Goddard.
Boom Town - (Re-issue Trailer) Friends become rivals when they strike it rich in oil in Boom Town (1940), starring Clark Gable & Spencer Tracy.
Imitation of Life (1934) - (Trailer for "Colored" Audiences) A preview for Imitation of Life (1934) intended for theatres with segregated non-white audiences.
Tovarich - (Original Trailer) Russian nobles flee the revolution and take jobs in Paris as servants in the romantic comedy, Tovarich (1937) starring Claudette Colbert and Charles Boyer.
It's A Wonderful World - (Original Trailer) James Stewart is a detective who kidnaps Claudette Colbert while trying to clear his name in the screwball comedy It's a Wonderful World (1939).
Cleopatra (1934) - (Re-issue Trailer) Claudette Colbert is the Queen of the Nile in Cecil B. DeMille's Cleopatra (1934).
Secret Heart, The - (Original Trailer) A recent widow tries to help her emotionally disturbed stepdaughter in The Secret Heart (1946), starring Claudette Colbert, June Allyson and Walter Pidgeon.

Family

George Claude Chauchoin
Father
Worked in banking business. Died in 1925.
Jeanne Chauchoin
Mother
Died in April 1970.
Charles Colbert
Brother
Agent. Older; born c. 1898; helped manage Colbert's career for a time; died in 1971.

Companions

Norman Foster
Husband
Actor, director. Married in 1927; Colbert did not live with him and kept marriage a secret for many years; divorced in August 1935 in Mexico.
Clark Gable
Companion
Actor. Reportedly had affair during filming of "It Happened One Night".
Joel Jay Pressman
Husband
Doctor. Married on December 24, 1935 until his death from liver cancer on February 28, 1968.
Helen O'Hagan
Companion
Was Colbert's companion from c. 1970.

Bibliography

Notes

Besides her Oscar for "It Happened One Night" (1934), Colbert was also nominated as Best Actress for "Private Worlds" (1935) and "Since You Went Away" (1944). She was also nominated for a Tony for her stage work in "The Marriage Go-Round" (1958) and an Emmy for "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" (1987).

Colbert is the only actress to star in three films nominated for Best Picture in the same year (1934), three prestigious films of the day which confirmed her as a "top" star: Cecil B. DeMille's playful, sexy epic, "Cleopatra"; John Stahl's notable interracial/mother-love tearjerker, "Imitation of Life", and Frank Capra's aforementioned landmark comedy, "It Happened One Night", which won.

"Claudette Colbert brought a new kind of tongue-in-cheek vivacity to the sound cinema which sustained her as a major movie star for two decades. Her unique combination of physical assets--sleek appearance, trim figure, sparkling heart-shaped face, and throaty, vibrant voice--boosted her to the top ranks of cinema popularity. No matter what the role, she was always a lady. With her innate reticence, charm and poise, she was unsuitable to portray anyone common or vulgar. Her mystique was as alluring as Marlene Dietrich's, but because she best fitted the stereotype of the practical-minded modern woman, she never attained the living legend status reserved for those who play, and seem to be, aloof godesses of physical and intellectual perfection." --James Robert Parish, quoted in "The Paramount Pretties" (Arlington House, New Rochelle NY, 1972)