Claudette Colbert

Highest Rated: 100% Imitation of Life (1934)
Birthday: Sep 13, 1903
Birthplace: Paris, France
Paris-born actress Claudette Colbert was brought to New York at the age of seven by her banker father. She planned an art career after high school graduation, studying at the Art Student's League. Attending a party with actress Anne Morrison, the 18-year-old was offered a three-line bit in Morrison's new play The Wild Westcotts. That ended her art aspirations, and Colbert embarked on a stage career in 1925, scoring her first big critical success in the 1926 Broadway production of The Barker, in which she played a duplicitous snake charmer. One year later, the actress made her first film at Long Island's Astoria studio, For the Love of Mike (1927), but the film was unsuccessful and she enjoyed neither the experience nor her young director, Frank Capra. So back she went to Broadway, returning to films during the talkie revolution in The Hole in the Wall (1929), which was also the movie-speaking debut of Edward G. Robinson. Once again, Colbert disliked film acting; but audiences responded to her beauty and cultured voice, so she forsook the stage for Hollywood. Colbert's popularity (and salary) skyrocketed after she was cast as "the wickedest woman in history," Nero's unscrupulous wife Poppaea, in the Biblical epic The Sign of the Cross (1932). Colbert expanded her range as a street-smart smuggler's daughter in I Cover the Waterfront and in the pioneering screwball comedy Three-Cornered Moon (both 1933), but it was for a role she nearly refused that the actress secured her box-office stature. Virtually every other actress in Hollywood had turned down the role of spoiled heiress Ellie Andrews in Columbia's It Happened One Night (1934), and when director Frank Capra approached an unenthusiastic Colbert, she wearily agreed to appear in the film on the conditions that she be paid twice her normal salary and that the film be completed before she was scheduled to go on vacation in four weeks. Colbert considered the experience one of the worst in her life -- until the 1935 Academy Awards ceremony, in which It Happened One Night won in virtually all major categories, including a Best Actress Oscar for her. Colbert spent the next decade alternating between comedy and drama, frequently in the company of her most popular co-star, Fred MacMurray. She gained a reputation of giving 110 percent of her energies while acting, which compensated for her occasional imperviousness and her insistence that only one side of her face be photographed (which frequently necessitated redesigning movie sets just to accommodate her phobia about her "bad side"). Colbert remained a top money-making star until her last big hit, The Egg and I (1947), after which she lost some footing, partly because of producers' unwillingness to meet her demands that (under doctor's orders) she could only film a short time each day (her doctor was her husband). She hoped to jump-start her career in the role of Margo Channing in All About Eve, but those plans were squelched when she injured her back and had to relinquish the character to Bette Davis. Traveling the usual "fading star" route, Colbert made films in Europe and a budget Western in the U.S. before returning triumphantly to Broadway, first in 1956's Janus, then in the long-running 1958 comedy Marriage Go Round. The actress also appeared on television, although reportedly had trouble adjusting to live productions. In 1961, she returned to Hollywood as Troy Donahue's mother in Parrish. It would be her last film appearance until the 1987 TV movie, The Two Mrs. Grenvilles -- in which she far outclassed her material. Still a prominent figure in the Hollywood hierarchy, Colbert retired to her lavish home in California, where she frequently entertained her old friends Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Claudette Colbert died in 1996 in Bridgetown, Barbados, at the age of 92.


Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet The Planter's Wife (Outpost in Malaya) Actor 2014
No Score Yet The Many Faces of Cleopatra Actor 2009
No Score Yet Lubitsch Musicals Actor 2008
No Score Yet The Two Mrs. Grenvilles Alice Grenville 1987
No Score Yet The AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards: Frank Capra Actor 1982
No Score Yet Parrish Ellen McLean 1961
88% Funny Face Actor 1957
No Score Yet Texas Lady Prudence Webb 1955
No Score Yet Let's Make It Legal Miriam Halsworth 1951
No Score Yet Thunder on the Hill Sister Mary Bonaventure 1951
No Score Yet Three Came Home Agnes Newton Keith 1950
No Score Yet Family Honeymoon Katie Armstrong Jordan 1948
No Score Yet The Egg and I Betty MacDonald 1947
No Score Yet Sleep, My Love Alison Courtland 1947
No Score Yet Without Reservations Christopher 'Kit' Madden 1946
No Score Yet The Secret Heart Lee Addams 1946
No Score Yet Tomorrow Is Forever Elizabeth Hamilton 1946
No Score Yet Guest Wife Mary 1945
80% Since You Went Away Anne Hilton 1944
No Score Yet So Proudly We Hail! Lt. Janet Davidson 1943
No Score Yet No Time for Love Katherine Grant 1943
97% The Palm Beach Story Gerry Jeffers 1942
No Score Yet Remember the Day Nora Trinell 1941
No Score Yet Skylark Lydia Kenyon 1941
No Score Yet Arise, My Love Augusta Nash 1940
No Score Yet Boom Town Betsy Bartlett 1940
80% Drums Along the Mohawk Lana (Magdelana) 1939
No Score Yet It's a Wonderful World Edwina Corday 1939
92% Midnight Eve Peabody/"Baroness Czerny" 1939
No Score Yet Zaza Actor 1939
No Score Yet Land of Liberty Actor 1939
29% Bluebeard's Eighth Wife Nicole de Loiselle 1938
No Score Yet Tovarich Grand Duchess Tatiana Petrovna 1937
No Score Yet I Met Him in Paris Kay Denham 1937
No Score Yet Maid of Salem Barbara Clarke 1937
No Score Yet Under Two Flags Actor 1936
No Score Yet Private Worlds Dr. Jane Everest 1935
No Score Yet The Gilded Lily Marylin David 1935
No Score Yet She Married Her Boss Julia Scott 1935
100% Imitation of Life Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman 1934
90% Cleopatra Cleopatra 1934
98% It Happened One Night Ellie Andrews 1934
No Score Yet Four Frightened People Judy Cavendish 1934
No Score Yet Torch Singer (Broadway Singer) Sally Trent, aka Mimi Benton 1933
No Score Yet Three Cornered Moon Elizabeth Rimplegar 1933
No Score Yet I Cover the Waterfront Julie Kirk 1933
No Score Yet The Phantom President Felicia Hammond 1932
No Score Yet Make Me a Star Guest Star 1932
33% The Sign of the Cross Poppea 1932
No Score Yet The House That Shadows Built Actor 1932
88% The Smiling Lieutenant Franzi 1931
No Score Yet The Big Pond Barbara Billings 1930