Claudette Colbert is a Actor French born on 13 september 1903 at Saint-Mandé (France)
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Birth name Émilie ChauchoinNationality FranceBirth 13 september 1903Claudette Colbert (/koʊlˈbɛər/; September 13, 1903 – July 30, 1996) was a French-born American actress, and a leading lady for two decades.
at Saint-Mandé (France
)Death 30 july 1996
(at 92 years) at Speightstown (Barbade
Academy Award for Best Actress
Colbert began her career in Broadway productions during the 1920s, progressing to film with the advent of talking pictures. Initially associated with Paramount Pictures, Colbert later gradually shifted to working as a freelance actor. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in It Happened One Night (1934), the first woman born outside of North America to do so, and also received Academy Award nominations for Private Worlds (1935) and Since You Went Away (1944). With her round apple-face, Colbert was known as an expert screwball comedienne, but her dramatic range enabled her to easily encompass melodrama and to play characters ranging from vamps to housewives. During her career, Colbert starred in more than sixty movies. She was the industry's biggest box-office star in 1938 and 1942.
By the mid 1950s, she had largely retired from the screen in favor of television and stage work, earning a Tony Award nomination for The Marriage-Go-Round in 1959. Her career tapered off during the early 1960s, but in the late 1970s she experienced a career resurgence in theater, earning a Sarah Siddons Award for her Chicago theater work in 1980. For her television work in The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1987) she won a Golden Globe Award and received an Emmy Award nomination.
In 1999, the American Film Institute voted Colbert the 12th Greatest Female star of classic Hollywood cinema.
In 1928, Colbert married Norman Foster, an actor and director, with whom she co-starred in the Broadway show The Barker, and in the 1930 film Young Man of Manhattan, for which he received negative reviews as one of her weakest leading men. Their marriage remained a secret for many years while they lived in separate homes. In Los Angeles, Colbert shared a home with her mother Jeanne Chauchoin, but her domineering mother disliked Foster and did not allow him into their home. Colbert and Foster divorced in 1935 in Mexico. Writer Robert Shaw, a close friend of Colbert's later in her life, claimed that around this time the actress had an affair with Marlene Dietrich, with whom she was photographed sliding down a chute at a Venice Beach amusement park.
Four months after her divorce, Colbert married Joel Pressman, a throat specialist and surgeon at UCLA. She gave a Beechcraft Bonanza single-engine plane to Pressman as a present. They purchased a ranch in Northern California, where her husband kept show cattle. During this period, Colbert drove a Lincoln Continental and a Ford Thunderbird. The marriage lasted 33 years, until Pressman's death of liver cancer in 1968.
Jeanne Chauchoin envied her daughter's talents of art and acting, and never gave Colbert recognition for her success. Colbert spent many years of her life seeking Jeanne's approval. Jeanne let Colbert's brother Charles serve as Colbert's agent. Charles used the surname Wendling which was borrowed from Jeanne's paternal grandmother, Rose Wendling. Charles served as Colbert's business manager for a time, and was credited with negotiating some of her more lucrative contracts in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Colbert was generally respected for her professionalism, and the New York Times stated that she was known for giving "110 percent" to any project she worked on. Hedda Hopper wrote that Colbert placed her career "ahead of everything save possibly her marriage," with a strong sense of what was best for her, and a "deep-rooted desire to be in shape, efficient and under control." The writer A. Scott Berg remarked that Colbert had "helped define femininity for her generation with her chic manner." Colbert once said, "I’ve been in the Claudette Colbert business a long time."
In 1954, her aunt Emilie Loew died in the U.S. Although virtually retired from the motion-picture industry since the mid-1950s, Colbert was still financially solvent enough to maintain an upscale lifestyle. Despite already having a country house in Palm Springs for staying on weekends, she rented a cottage in Cap Ferrat in southeastern France. Adman Peter Rogers said, "Claudette was extravagant; I never, ever saw her question the price of anything." In 1963, Colbert sold her residence in Holmby Hills (western Los Angeles), so Joel Pressman rented a small house in Beverly Hills.
There has been speculation by some in Hollywood that Colbert was bisexual, because of her special friendship with the lesbian artist, Verna Hull, but Colbert and her closest friends have denied such a claim. Portrait artist Don Bachardy has written that she was referred to as "Uncle Claude:" "I think she's a really good example of a very closeted situation. Only well within her own circle did they know the truth." In 1958 she met Verna Hull, a wealthy painter/photographer and the stepdaughter of a Sears Roebuck heiress. They had a nine-year friendship and painted together, went for drives together, traveled together and even rented twin penthouses in New York. They had a mutual interest in art. When Colbert bought a house in Barbados in the early 1960s, Hull also bought a modest house next door. The friendship ended suddenly when, as Colbert's husband lay dying, Hull warned Colbert that he might at any moment try to kill her to take her with him when he died. Offended, Colbert announced that she would never see Hull or speak with her again. An article in Vanity Fair explains that Hull had warned Colbert that people "would talk" if they were friends, and would suggest that Colbert might be gay. Colbert reportedly laughed off the suggestion, and was secure enough in herself to not be persuaded by others' views.
For years, Colbert divided her time between her apartment in Manhattan and her vacation home in Speightstown, Barbados. The latter, purchased from a British gentleman and nicknamed "Bellerive," was the island’s only plantation house fronting the beach. However, her permanent address remained Manhattan. Later in life, she was also a staunch Republican and natural conservative.
Colbert's mother Jeanne died in 1970 and her brother Charles died in 1971, so her only surviving relative was a niece, Coco Lewis, Charles' daughter.
Following a series of small strokes during the last three years of her life, Colbert died in 1996 at her second home in Barbados, where she was employing one housekeeper and two cooks. Colbert’s body was shipped to New York for cremation. A requiem mass was later held at St. Vincent Ferrer church in New York City. Her ashes were buried in the Godings Bay Church Cemetery, Speightstown, Saint Peter, Barbados, along with her mother and second husband.
The childless Colbert left most of her estate, estimated at $3.5 million and also including her Manhattan apartment and Bellerive, to a long-time friend, Helen O'Hagan, a retired director of corporate relations at Saks Fifth Avenue, whom Colbert had met in 1961 on the set of Parrish, her last film and became best friends with around 1970. After the death of Pressman, Colbert instructed her friends to treat O'Hagan as they had Pressman, "as her spouse." Though O'Hagan was financially comfortable without the generous bequest, Bellerive was sold for over $2 million to David Geffen. Colbert's remaining assets were distributed among three heirs: $150,000 to her niece Coco Lewis; a trust worth more than $100,000 to UCLA for Pressman’s memory; and $75,000 to Marie Corbin, Colbert's Barbadian housekeeper.