Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Star Of The Month-September


BORN: September 13, 1903 (some now say 1901)

DIED: July 30, 1996

AGED: 92 years old

DIED FROM: Old age after a series of small strokes

REAL NAME: Emilie Claudette Chauchoin

MARRIAGES: 2 times-first to actor Norman Foster; 2nd to a doctor

AFFAIRS: Clark Gable. Maybe others but...will talk later


NICKNAME: Lily; The Fretting Frog(by the crew)

KNOWN FOR: hating her right side of her face so much that she had it built, into any contracts, that they could only film her from her left side. She once had the whole set be redone so it forced the cameramen to film her on her left side plus she would, sometimes, paint her right side of her face green. This is why the crew called her the Fretting Frog.

OSCAR WIN: It Happened One Night-1934

OSCAR NOMS: Private Worlds-1935

                            Since You Went Away-1944

Claudette was a huge, I mean, huge star and should be better remembered than she is today. When one hears her name now, it is always about her being a closeted lesbian because of a picture of her riding down a slide with Marlene Dietrich where they look like they are having fun and her personal friendships with Verna Hull, a wealthy heiress, and her last friendship with Helen O'Hagan. There are no pictures of her kissing these ladies just rumours seeming to come out only after she kicked the bucket. Sure, maybe a rag magazine may have suggested something but Oh My God! Does every chick in Hollywood have to be gay, Bi or whatever? Her and Verna had a close friendship where they went halfs on a NYC Condo and, when Claudette and her husband bought a home in Barbados, Verna bought one next to her. The friendship ended horribly when Verna said something disparaging about Claudette's dying husband and it came to verbal blows. Soon after her spouse died, her mother and brother died and, even though she had a difficult relationship with her mother (unsure about her brother), she became really good friends with Helen. Helen was born in 1930 and other friends said Claudette thought of her as the daughter she never had. When Claudette died, she left the bulk of her estate to Helen with a statement saying to treat her as if she were my spouse. From that, it is suggested they had  more than just a loving friendship. Well then, I must be a lesby because I consider my best friend and I soul mates and would love to live with her if I should outlive my beloved hubby. 

OK, got that out of the way and, Joel, if you read this and wish to let me know if I am in the wrong, please do. Her first husband and her never did live together, which is strange but her mom, a controller, hated his guts and she lived with Claudette so.... 7 years later, they divorced. 

Claudette, aside from her vain insecurity, was a very genial person, mostly. She did not get along at all with Frank Capra who said she would throw fits on the set. This might be because she, and Gable, were both loaned out to Poverty Row Studio, Columbia, to make this awful picture called "It Happened One Night" as punishment. Claudette also disliked working with Paulette Goddard who became friends with Veronca Lake and overheard Goddard say she got along better with Lake because they were closer in age. (Goddard was closer in age to Colbert but hey...I think it's the vain thing going on here). Otherwise, Claudette was known to be a good egg and could do comedy and drama equally well and wanted to do her very best. 

She actually never wanted to become a film star loving Broadway theatre much more but, the money was good and she became famous very early on despite a horrible first movie (a silent). When film parts started to go, she did quite a bit of TV during the 50s and 60s plus she returned to theatre. After decades off of the TV/Film she returned to "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" in 1987 winning a Golden Globe and was up for an Emmy. She may have had a second movie career starring as Margo Channing (instead of Bette Davis ) in "The Lady Eve" but she was in traction severely hurting her back doing a stunt in another film ("Three Came Home"...my favourite). To be honest, I can't see anyone else but Bette in the role. 


1. The Sign of the Cross (famous for bathing in asses' milk which curdled and stank after a couple of days)-1932

2. Cleopatra-1934

3. Imitation of Life-1934

4. The Gilded Lady-1935

5. Bluebeard's Eigth Wife-1938

6. Midnight-1939

7. Drums Along The Mohawk-1939

8. The Palm Beach Story-1942

9. So Proudly We Hail-1943

10. The Egg & I-1947

11. Three Came Home-1950


  1. So I found her in the 1940 census, married to Dr. Joel Pressman, where she lied about her age and said she was 32, lol. Everyone who has her in their tree agrees on 1903, but lots of errors in trees when no records can be found. I've seen several of those movies - ages ago it seems. Good choice.

  2. Hi, Birgit!

    I hope you are bouncing back from your painful flare-up, dear friend.

    You are right for stating that Claudette Colbert was a huge star who should be better remembered. I am guilty of unconsciously avoiding most of her films. As I scrolled down her filmography, the only titles I recognized as having watched are I Cover The Waterfront, The Egg And I and Bride For Sale. I don't remember Claudette's guest appearances on the TV shows I regularly watched which include Jack Benny, Climax!, Playhouse 90, Zane Grey Theatre, Steve Allen, What's My Line? and The Outer Limits.

    Based on the clips you posted, I can see that I missed a lot of great acting on Claudette's part. She seemed right at home in screwball comedies loaded with snappy, fast-paced, overlapping dialogue with zingers galore. I appreciate films crammed with dialogue delivered so naturally that it seems spontaneous rather than scripted.

    It's a shame so much drama took place behind the scenes in Claudette Colbert's private life. I believe that close, loving (but nevertheless platonic) friendships between two women or two men (think Alan Shore & Denny Crane) are often misinterpreted as more than they are. There is a lot more to worry about in this troubled world than who is sleeping with who, but the scandal sheets obviously needed fodder, and rumors often turned into sensational, irresistible headlines. In today's world, it's called "click bait."

    Thanks for profiling Claudette Colbert, a talented comedic and dramatic actress with a long life and career. Have a great day, dear friend BB. I'll be back to see you tamale on song day!

    1. I’m glad you like my choice. She is good on both sides- drama and comedy. Scandal sheets are just not that great..downright mean.

  3. I wonder if my face has a better-looking side. That was a fun read, Birgit, thank you. I learned a lot. I think of her as having a beautiful voice and a sad smile.

    1. She does have a sad smile and I think she looked good on both sides but what do I know. My best side might be my backside..nyuck nyuck

  4. I'm a fan. I had no idea about the left side of her face thing, but now I'll know to look for it. Lesbian rumors don't bother me. I wouldn't think less of her if she had been, but it sounds like that would have been blown out of proportion. Good choice.

    1. I’m glad you know her and like her and agree that it means no bother to me if she was a lesbian but, if I was dead and people said I was one because I was more than friends with my girlfriend, I would be pissed off. Call me things that I am and I will own up to it including if I was a lesbian. I would be proud of my own sexuality but don’t call me something I am not...it’s just not nice.

  5. I always liked Claudette Colbert, but knew nothing about her eccentricities. Painting one side of her face green? ☺ The lesbian rumours are well known, but so what? She probably swung both ways and it shouldn't matter. She was a talented actress with a lovely face and voice.

    1. Yes, she was eccentric about her face and rumours are just rumours but I wouldn’t want to be called something if I wasn’t that. I would be having no issues and happy to be called a lesbian if I were one but not if I wasn’t one just because I was such a dear friend with my best friend. Does that make sense? Anyhoo, glad you like her.

  6. I had a semi-close encounter with her last film “The Two Mrs. Grenvilles.” I was backpacking through Europe and was in London when they were filming a scene in St. James Park (I think though it could have been Archbishop’s Park) with Ann-Margret and Stephen Collins. No Claudette in sight but it was very exciting when I watched the miniseries later and that scene came up knowing I had been just behind the camera area.

    Those are all good films of hers you listed (though the Lana Turner version of “Imitation of Life” is the gold standard for that story). She paired well with most of her costars, but it was Fred MacMurray who was her best match. The studio recognized it as well matching them up in seven pictures (unfortunately that does include what I think is her worst film-“Maid of Salem.” As you would expect it is about the Salem witch trials and had potential, but Claudette is simply wrong, wrong, wrong in the lead. She was far too contemporary to seem at home in period pictures, something that was also true of Joan Crawford.

    Anyway, here are some suggestions for you aside from those you mentioned in the order I would recommend them, though her best film and performance is Three Came Home.

    Since You Went Away (1944)-LOVE this film even if it is lloonngg.
    Tovarich (1937)-A very underrated charmer with Claudette and Charles Boyer very simpatico.
    Family Honeymoon (1948)
    Practically Yours (1944)
    No Time for Love (1943)-This and the previous two costar Fred MacMurray.
    The Secret Fury (1950)
    Remember the Day (1941)
    The Bride Comes Home (1935)
    Bride for Sale (1949)
    I Met Him in Paris (1937)
    Guest Wife (1945)

    1. Lucky you to be so close to that filming even though you only saw, yuck, Stephen Collins. I have marked down your list of her films you suggest. I’m glad you commented here even though I am late

  7. I didn’t know about Paramount being like this. That’s just sad and stupid. I love that quote from Noel Coward and laughed so much when I read that in one of my books. She could bring out the best or worst depending. I have to say, I wouldn’t like Rex much either from what I have read about him. I’d like to see more of her films and I know you have seen many more than me.