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Paulette Goddard

in Second Chorus (1940)
Born Marion Pauline Levy
June 3, 1910(1910-06-03)
Whitestone Landing, Queens, New York, U.S.
Died April 23, 1990 (aged 79)
Ronco sopra Ascona, Ticino, Switzerland
Occupation Actress
Years active 1929–1972
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)[1] 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).

Contents

Early life

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.[2] 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.

Career

Her stage debut was in the Ziegfeld revue No Foolin in 1926, and played a small role in Rio Rita.[3] 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.

Goddard in Dramatic School (1938)

Upon her return to Hollywood, with her mother, Goddard appeared in small roles in The Girl Habit (1931) and The Mouthpiece (1932).[3] 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.[3] Chaplin began planning a film with Goddard, that would be released in 1936 as Modern Times,[3] 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.[4] 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.[4] 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.[3] 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.[3] 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."[5]

from the trailer for The Women

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.[6] 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,[6] and she was the first actress to be given a Technicolor screentest.[7] 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."[6] 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."[8] 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.[8] It has been suggested that Goddard lost the part because Selznick feared questions surrounding her marital status with Chaplin would result in scandal,[4] however Selznick was aware that Leigh and Laurence Olivier lived together as their respective spouses had refused to divorce them,[9] and in addition to offering Leigh a contract, he engaged Olivier as the leading man in his next production Rebecca (1940)[10]

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.

from the trailer for So Proudly We Hail!

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.

Later life

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.

Fictional portrayals

She was portrayed by Diane Lane in the 1992 film Chaplin.

Filmography

Film
Year Film Role Notes
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
Short subject
Young Ironsides Herself, Miss Hollywood Uncredited
Short subject
Pack Up Your Troubles Bridesmaid Uncredited
Girl Grief Student Uncredited
Short subject
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
Dramatic School Nana
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
1945 Duffy's Tavern Herself
Kitty Kitty
1946 The Diary of a Chambermaid Célestine Producer (Uncredited)
1947 Suddenly, It's Spring Mary Morely
Variety Girl Herself
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
Hazard Ellen Crane
1949 Bride of Vengeance Lucretia Borgia
Anna Lucasta Anna Lucasta
A Yank Comes Back Herself Uncredited
Short subject
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
Gli Indifferenti
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1953-1957 Ford Theatre Nancy Whiting
Holly March
2 episodes
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

Notes

  1. ^ Although there is much inconsistency among published sources about Goddard's year of birth (e.g., at the time of her death, officials in Switzerland, where she died, listed her year of birth as 1905), the U.S. Census taken on April 15, 1910, shows her parents living in Manhattan and still childless; and the U.S. Census taken on January 1, 1920, shows Paulette Goddard (as Pauline G. Levy), age 9, living with her parents in Kansas City, Missouri.
  2. ^ "The Religious Affiliation of Actress Paulette Goddard". Adherents.com. 2005. http://www.adherents.com/people/pg/Paulette_Goddard.html. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Shipman, p. 247
  4. ^ a b c "Charlie Chaplin’s Wives". ednapurviance.org. http://www.ednapurviance.org/chaplininfo/chaplinwives.html. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  5. ^ Kael, p. 660
  6. ^ a b c Haver, p. 251
  7. ^ Haver, p. 260
  8. ^ a b Haver, p. 259
  9. ^ Walker, p. 150
  10. ^ Haver, p. 318.

References

  • Haver, Ronald (1980). David O. Selznick's Hollywood. Bonanza Books, New York. ISBN 0-517-47665-7. 
  • Kael, Pauline (1982). 5001 Nights at the Movies. Arrow Books, London. ISBN 0-09-933550-6. 
  • Shipman, David (1970). The Great Movie Stars, The Golden Years. Bonanza Books, New York. ISBN 0-517-K00392. 
  • Walker, Alexander (1987). Vivien, The Life of Vivien Leigh. Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-3259-6. 

External links


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