Image of Claudette Colbert

Claudette Colbert

Claudette Colbert was born in Saint-Mandé, Val-de-Marne, France, September 13, 1903, and was brought to the United States as a child three years later. Born Emilie 'Lily' Claudette Chauchoin, she went to high school in New York. She was studying at the Art Students League when, in 1923, she took the name Claudette Colbert for her first Broadway role in "The Wild Westcotts". Her most noteworthy stage vehicle was the "The Barker" in 1927. Her first film was a silent For the Love of Mike (1927), directed by Frank Capra. Made on a shoestring, the movie was a flop, and she vowed that it would be her last film role: "I only left Broadway when the crash came. The Depression killed the theater, and the pictures were manna from heaven". She had her first film success the next year, however, in The Lady Lies (1929). Her early notable films were all box-office hits and included Cleopatra (1934), in which she played the title role enticingly. She had her greatest triumph playing a runaway heiress, with enormous charm, opposite Clark Gable in Capra's comedy It Happened One Night (1934), for which she won the Academy Award as Best Actress. By 1938 her keen ability in business made her the highest paid star in Hollywood. By 1950, though, her star had begun to wane. She returned to the stage in 1956 when she replaced Margaret Sullavan during the spring and summer in the comedy "Janus". Appearances in other Broadway productions followed, including "The Marriage-Go-Round". Besides the stage, she did TV specials and had a supporting role in a notable TV movie, The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1987), for which she received a Golden Globe award. In 1989 she was presented with a Life Achievement award from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She married actor Norman Foster in 1928, although they never lived together and were divorced after seven years. She married surgeon Dr. Joel Pressman soon after and remained married until his death in 1968. In recent years she divided her time between an apartment in New York and a 200-year-old plantation house in Speightstown, Barbados, where she entertained such guests as Frank Sinatra and Ronald Reagan. She remained on Barbados Island after her stroke. On July 30, 1996, Claudette died in Speightstown, Barbados. She was 92.

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Sep 13, 1903 In Saint-Mandé, Seine
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie For the Love of Mike 1927-07-31
Latest Project:
Movie Complicated Women 2003-05-06
Known For
Poster of Daughters of Destiny
Poster of I Cover the Waterfront
Poster of His Woman
Movie Complicated Women Herself (archive footage) 2003-05-06
Movie The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender Herself (archive footage) 1997-11-01
Movie That's Entertainment! III (archive footage) 1994-07-01
Series The Two Mrs. Grenvilles Alice Grenville 1987-02-08
Series The Kennedy Center Honors Unknown 1978-12-28
Movie Hollywood Without Make-Up 1963-07-01
Movie Parrish Ellen McLean 1961-05-04
Movie Blithe Spirit Ruth Condomine 1956-01-14
Series Telephone Time Unknown 1956-04-08
Movie Texas Lady Prudence Webb 1955-11-23
Movie Royal Affairs in Versailles Madame de Montespan 1954-02-10
Movie Daughters of Destiny Elizabeth Whitefield (segment "Elisabeth") 1954-01-21
Series General Electric Theater Unknown 1953-02-01
Movie The Planter's Wife Liz Frazer 1952-12-04
Movie Let's Make It Legal Miriam Halsworth 1951-10-31
Series Robert Montgomery Presents Unknown 1950-01-30
Movie Three Came Home Agnes Newton Keith 1950-02-20
Movie The Secret Fury Ellen R. Ewing 1950-02-21
Series The Colgate Comedy Hour Unknown 1950-09-10
Movie Bride for Sale Nora Shelley 1949-11-12
Movie Family Honeymoon Katie Armstrong Jordan 1948-12-06
Movie Sleep, My Love Alison Courtland 1948-02-18
Movie The Egg and I Betty MacDonald 1947-05-01
Movie Tomorrow Is Forever Elizabeth Hamilton 1946-02-20
Movie Without Reservations Kit Madden 1946-05-13
Movie The Secret Heart Lee Addams 1946-12-25
Movie Guest Wife Mary Price 1945-07-27
Movie Since You Went Away Mrs. Anne Hilton 1944-06-30
Movie Practically Yours Peggy Martin 1944-12-20
Movie So Proudly We Hail Lt. Janet 'Davy' Davidson 1943-09-09
Movie No Time for Love Katherine Grant 1943-11-10
Movie The Palm Beach Story Geraldine 'Gerry' Jeffers 1942-08-28
Movie Skylark Lydia Kenyon 1941-11-21
Movie Remember the Day Nora Trinell 1941-12-25
Movie Hollywood: Style Center of the World Herself 1940-05-29
Movie Cavalcade of the Academy Awards (archive footage) 1940-07-31
Movie Arise, My Love Augusta Nash 1940-11-08
Movie Boom Town Betsy Bartlett 1940-08-30
Movie Midnight Eve Peabody 1939-03-24
Movie It's a Wonderful World Edwina Corday 1939-05-19
Movie Drums Along the Mohawk Lana (Magdelana) 1939-11-10
Movie Breakdowns of 1938 Herself 1938-02-07
Movie Bluebeard's Eighth Wife Nicole De Loiselle 1938-03-25
Movie Hollywood Goes to Town 1938-07-07
Movie Zaza Zaza 1938-12-29
Movie Maid of Salem Barbara Clarke 1937-02-12
Movie Tovarich Grand Duchess Tatiana Petrovna Romanov 1937-12-25
Movie I Met Him in Paris Kay Denham 1937-05-28
Movie Under Two Flags Cigarette 1936-04-30
Movie The Gilded Lily Marilyn David 1935-01-25
Movie Private Worlds Dr. Jane Everest 1935-04-19
Movie The Bride Comes Home Jeannette Desmereau 1935-12-25
Movie She Married Her Boss Julia Scott 1935-09-19
Movie The Fashion Side of Hollywood 1935-11-04
Movie It Happened One Night Ellen 'Ellie' Andrews 1934-02-22
Movie Four Frightened People Judy Jones 1934-01-26
Movie Cleopatra Cleopatra 1934-10-05
Movie Imitation of Life Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman 1934-11-23
Movie I Cover the Waterfront Julie Kirk 1933-05-19
Movie Tonight Is Ours Princess Nadya 1933-01-21
Movie Three-Cornered Moon Elizabeth Rimplegar 1933-08-08
Movie Torch Singer Sally Trent, aka Mimi Benton 1933-09-08
Movie The Wiser Sex Margaret Hughes 1932-03-14
Movie The Misleading Lady Helen Steele 1932-04-15
Movie The Man from Yesterday Sylvia Suffolk 1932-06-24
Movie The Sign of the Cross Empress Poppaea 1932-11-30
Movie The Phantom President Felicia Hammond 1932-09-23
Movie Make Me a Star Herself (uncredited) 1932-07-01
Movie Honor Among Lovers Julia Traynor 1931-02-28
Movie The House That Shadows Built (archive footage) 1931-07-08
Movie Secrets of a Secretary Helen Blake 1931-09-05
Movie The Smiling Lieutenant Franzi 1931-08-01
Movie His Woman Sally Clark 1931-11-20
Movie Young Man of Manhattan Ann Vaughn 1930-04-19
Movie The Big Pond Barbara Billings 1930-05-03
Movie Manslaughter Lydia Thorne 1930-07-22
Movie The Hole in the Wall Jean Oliver 1929-04-27
Movie The Lady Lies Joyce Roamer 1929-09-21
Movie For the Love of Mike Mary 1927-07-31
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