in Second Chorus (1940)
|Born||Marion Pauline Levy
June 3, 1910
Whitestone Landing, Queens, New York, U.S.
|Died||April 23, 1990 (aged 79)
Ronco sopra Ascona, Ticino, Switzerland
|Spouse(s)||Edgar James (1927–1931)
Charles Chaplin (1936–1942)
Burgess Meredith (1944–1950)
Erich Maria Remarque (1958–1970)
Paulette Goddard (June 3, 1910 – April 23, 1990) was an American film and theatre actress. A former child fashion model and in several Broadway productions as Ziegfeld Girl, she was a major star of the Paramount Studio in the 1940s. She was married to several notable men, including Charlie Chaplin, Burgess Meredith and Erich Maria Remarque. Goddard was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in So Proudly We Hail! (1943).
Paulette Goddard was born Marion Pauline Levy. She was an only child, born in Whitestone Landing, Queens, Long Island. Her father, Joseph Russell Levy, was Jewish, and her mother, Alta Mae Goddard, was Episcopalian and of English heritage. Her parents divorced while she was young, and she was raised by her mother. Her father virtually vanished from her life, only to resurface later in the late 1930s after she became a star. At first, their relationship seemed genial enough, as they used to attend film premieres together, but then he sued her over a magazine article that claimed he abandoned her when she was young. They were never to reconcile and upon his death, he left her just one dollar in his will. She remained very close to her mother, however, as both had struggled through those early years, with her great uncle, Charles Goddard (her grandfather's brother) lending a hand.
Charles Goddard helped his great niece find jobs as a fashion model, and with the Ziegfeld Follies as one of the heavily-decorated Ziegfeld Girls from 1924 to 1928. She attended Washington Irving High School in Manhattan at the same time as Claire Trevor.
Her stage debut was in the Ziegfeld revue No Foolin in 1926, and played a small role in Rio Rita. The next year she made her stage acting debut in The Unconquerable Male. She also changed her first name to Paulette and took her mother's maiden name (which also happened to be her favorite great uncle Charles' last name) as her own last name. She married an older, wealthy businessman, lumber tycoon Edgar James, in 1926 or 1927 and moved to North Carolina. Goddard returned to Hollywood in 1929 and they were divorced in 1930.
Upon her return to Hollywood, with her mother, Goddard appeared in small roles in The Girl Habit (1931) and The Mouthpiece (1932). She signed a contract with Hal Roach Studios, and appeared in films such as The Kid from Spain. In 1932, she met Charlie Chaplin. Goddard was considering investing the money from her divorce settlement in a film venture but Chaplin intervened when he discovered the deal was fraudulent, and bought her contract from Roach. Chaplin began planning a film with Goddard, that would be released in 1936 as Modern Times, and in the interim, Goddard appeared in a few films for Samuel Goldwyn Productions. Along with such actresses as Betty Grable, Lucille Ball and Ann Sothern, Goddard became a 'Goldwyn Girl' and was featured in films such as Roman Scandals (1933) and Kid Millions (1934).
During this time she lived with Chaplin in his Beverly Hills home. Their marital status was and has remained a source of controversy and speculation. During most of their time together, both refused to comment on the matter. Chaplin maintained that they were married in China in 1936, but to private associates and family, he claimed they were never legally married, except in common law.
Following the success of Modern Times, Chaplin planned other projects with Goddard in mind as a co-star, but he worked slowly and Goddard worried that the public may not remember her if she did not continue to make regular film appearances. She signed a contract with David O. Selznick and was interested in the role of Scarlett O'Hara in his planned film version of Gone with the Wind. She appeared with Janet Gaynor in the comedy The Young in Heart (1938) before Selznick loaned her to MGM to appear in two films. The first of these, Dramatic School (1938), costarred Luise Rainer, but the film attracted mediocre reviews and failed to attract an audience. Her next film, The Women (1939) was a success. With an all-female cast headed by Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell, Goddard played the supporting role of Miriam Aarons. Pauline Kael later commented of Goddard, "she is a stand-out. She's fun."
Selznick had been pleased with Goddard's recent performances, and specifically her work in The Young at Heart, and considered her for the role of Scarlett O'Hara. Initial screentests convinced him and the director George Cukor that Goddard would require coaching to be effective in the role, but that she showed promise, and she was the first actress to be given a Technicolor screentest. Russell Birdwell, the head of Selznick's publicity department, had strong misgivings about Goddard. He warned Selznick of the "tremendous avalanche of criticism that will befall us and the picture should Paulette be given this part ... I have never known a woman, intent on a career dependent upon her popularity with the masses, to hold and live such an insane and absurd attitude towards the press and her fellow man as does Paulette Goddard... Briefly, I think she is dynamite that will explode in our very faces if she is given the part." Selznick remained interested in Goddard and after he had been introduced to Vivien Leigh, he wrote to his wife that Leigh was a "dark horse" and that his choice had "narrowed down to Paulette, Jean Arthur, Joan Bennett and Vivien Leigh." After a series of tests with Leigh that pleased both Selznick and Cukor, Selznick cancelled the further tests that had been scheduled for Goddard, and the part was given to Leigh. It has been suggested that Goddard lost the part because Selznick feared questions surrounding her marital status with Chaplin would result in scandal, however Selznick was aware that Leigh and Laurence Olivier lived together as their respective spouses had refused to divorce them, and in addition to offering Leigh a contract, he engaged Olivier as the leading man in his next production Rebecca (1940)
Goddard signed a contract with Paramount Pictures and her next film The Cat and the Canary (1939) with Bob Hope, was a turning point in the careers of both actors. She starred with Chaplin again in his 1940 film The Great Dictator. The couple split amicably soon afterward, and Goddard allegedly obtained a divorce in Mexico in 1942, with Chaplin agreeing to a generous settlement.
She was Fred Astaire's leading lady in the musical Second Chorus (1940), where she met Burgess Meredith. One of her best-remembered film appearances was in the variety musical Star Spangled Rhythm (1943) in which she sang a comic number "A Sweater, a Sarong, and a Peekaboo Bang" with contemporary sex symbols Dorothy Lamour and Veronica Lake.
She received her only Oscar nomination, for the 1943 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in So Proudly We Hail!. Her most successful film was Kitty (1945), where she played the title role. In The Diary of a Chambermaid (1946), she starred opposite Meredith, by then her husband.
Her career faded in the late 1940s. In 1947 she made An Ideal Husband in Britain for Alexander Korda films, being accompanied on a publicity trip to Brussels by Clarissa Churchill, niece of Sir Winston and future wife of Prime Minister Anthony Eden. In 1949, she formed Monterey Pictures with John Steinbeck. Her last starring roles were the English production A Stranger Came Home (known as The Unholy Four in the USA), and Charge of the Lancers in 1954. She also acted in summer stock and on television, including in the 1955 television remake of The Women, playing a different character than she played in the 1939 feature film. In 1964, she attempted a comeback in films with a supporting role in the Italian film Time of Indifference, but that turned out to be her last feature film. Her last acting role was in The Snoop Sisters (1972) for television.
Goddard was married to actor Burgess Meredith from 1944 to 1949. She suffered a miscarriage while married to him. She had no children. In 1958 she married Erich Maria Remarque, author of (most famously) All Quiet on the Western Front, amongst other best-sellers of the period. They remained married until his death in 1970, and she inherited much of his money and several important properties across Europe including a large contemporary art hoard, which merely augmented her own long-standing collection. During this period, her talent at accumulating wealth became a byword amongst the old Hollywood élite.
During the 1980s she became a fairly well-known (and highly visible) socialite in New York City society, appearing, covered with jewels, at many high-profile cultural functions with several well-known men including Andy Warhol, with whom she sustained an unlikely friendship for many years until his unexpected death in 1987.
Goddard was treated for breast cancer, apparently successfully, although the surgery was very invasive and the doctor had to remove several ribs. She later settled in Ronco sopra Ascona, Switzerland, where she died of emphysema a few months before her 80th birthday. She is buried in Ronco cemetery, next to Remarque and her mother.
In her will, she left US$20 million to New York University (NYU), in recognition of her friendship with the Indiana-born politician and former NYU President John Brademas. Goddard Hall, an NYU freshman residence hall on Washington Square, is named in her honor.
|1929||Berth Marks||Train passenger||Short subject|
|The Locked Door||Girl on Rum Boat||Uncredited|
|1931||City Streets||Dance extra||Uncredited|
|The Girl Habit||Lingerie salesgirl|
|Ladies of the Big House||Inmate in midst of crowd||Uncredited|
|1932||The Mouthpiece||Blonde at party||Uncredited|
|Show Business||Blonde Train Passenger||Uncredited
|Young Ironsides||Herself, Miss Hollywood||Uncredited
|Pack Up Your Troubles||Bridesmaid||Uncredited|
|The Kid from Spain||Goldwyn Girl||Uncredited|
|1933||Hollywood on Parade No. B-1||Herself||Short subject|
|The Bowery||Blonde who announces Brodie's jump||Uncredited|
|Hollywood on Parade No. B-5||Herself||Short subject|
|Roman Scandals||Goldwyn Girl||Uncredited|
|1934||Kid Millions||Goldwyn Girl||Uncredited|
|1936||Modern Times||Ellen Peterson - A Gamine|
|The Bohemian Girl||Gypsy vagabond||Uncredited|
|1938||The Young in Heart||Leslie Saunders|
|1939||The Women||Miriam Aarons|
|The Cat and the Canary||Joyce Norman|
|1940||The Ghost Breakers||Mary Carter|
|The Great Dictator||Hannah|
|Screen Snapshots: Sports in Hollywood||Herself||Short subject|
|North West Mounted Police||Louvette Corbeau||Alternative titles: Northwest Mounted Police
The Scarlet Riders
|Second Chorus||Ellen Miller|
|1941||Pot o' Gold||Molly McCorkle||Alternative titles: The Golden Hour
Jimmy Steps Out
|Hold Back the Dawn||Anita Dixon|
|Nothing But the Truth||Gwen Saunders|
|1942||The Lady Has Plans||Sidney Royce|
|Reap the Wild Wind||Loxi Claiborne||Alternative title: Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind|
|The Forest Rangers||Celia Huston Stuart|
|Star Spangled Rhythm||Herself|
|1943||The Crystal Ball||Toni Gerard|
|So Proudly We Hail!||Lt. Joan O'Doul||Nominated for Best Supporting Actress Oscar|
|1944||Standing Room Only||Jane Rogers/Suzanne|
|I Love a Soldier||Evelyn Connors|
|1946||The Diary of a Chambermaid||Célestine||Producer (Uncredited)|
|1947||Suddenly, It's Spring||Mary Morely|
|Unconquered||Abigail "Abby" Martha Hale|
|An Ideal Husband||Mrs. Laura Cheveley||Alternative title: Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband|
|1948||On Our Merry Way||Martha Pease|
|Screen Snapshots: Smiles and Styles||Herself||Short subject|
|1949||Bride of Vengeance||Lucretia Borgia|
|Anna Lucasta||Anna Lucasta|
|A Yank Comes Back||Herself||Uncredited
|1950||The Torch||María Dolores Penafiel||Associate producer
Alternative title: Bandit General
|1952||Babes in Bagdad||Kyra|
|1953||Vice Squad||Mona Ross||Alternative title: The Girl in Room 17|
|Sins of Jezebel||Jezebel|
|Paris Model||Betty Barnes||Alternative title: Nude at Midnight|
|1954||Charge of the Lancers||Tanya|
|A Stranger Came Home||Angie||Alternative title: The Unholy Four|
|1964||Time of Indifference||Mariagrazia||Alternative titles: Les Deux Rivales
|1953-1957||Ford Theatre||Nancy Whiting
|1952||The Ed Sullivan Show||Herself||2 episodes|
|1954||Sherlock Holmes||Lady Beryl||1 episode|
|1955||Producers' Showcase||Sylvia Fowler||1 episode|
|1957||The Errol Flynn Theatre||Rachel||1 episode|
|On Trial||Dolly||1 episode|
|1959||Adventures in Paradise||Mme. Victorine Reynard||1 episode|
|What's My Line?||Guest Panelist||1 episode|
|1961||The Phantom||Mrs. Harris||Television movie|
|1972||The Snoop Sisters||Norma Treet||Television movie
Alternative title: Female Instinct