TCM Summer Under the Stars: Day Twenty-Seven — Claudette Colbert

She was a star.

In 1936, Claudette Colbert was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood.

Two years later, she became Hollywood’s highest-paid STAR.


Claudette Colbert was born Émilie Claudette Chauchoin in Paris, France, on September 13, 1905 – her family called her Lily, reportedly after singer Lillie Langtry (who was born on the Isle of Jersey, a few miles off the coast of France). When her father, George, experienced financial setbacks in his job as an investment, he moved his wife, his daughter, and son Charles to New York to start a new life. Once in New York, Émilie’s parents legally changed her name to Lily.

Young Lily.

After high school, Lily had plans to become a fashion designer, but when one of her teachers suggested that she try out of a school play, the die was cast. She enrolled in the Art Students League of New York following her graduation, but as fate would have it, she attended a party with playwright Anne Morrison Chapin, who offered Lily a small part in her new production, The Wild Westcotts. The play opened on Broadway in December 1923; Lily used the name Claudette (she reportedly hated the name Lily) and took the name of her grandmother as her last name. She went on to appear in a total of 11 Broadway productions during the 1920s.


  • In New York, Claudette lived in a fifth floor walk-up. She attributed her shapely legs to climbing the stairs to her apartment every day for several years.

    With first husband, Norman Foster

  • After appearing in her first movie, the Frank Capra-directed For the Love of Mike (1927), Claudette vowed that she would never make another film.
  • Claudette considered her left side to be her best side and, famously, insisted on only being shot from that side.
  • Claudette received three Oscar nominations during her career – for It Happened One Night (1934), Private Worlds (1935), and Since You Went Away (1945). She won for It Happened One Night. (She’d been so certain that she wouldn’t win that she was at the train station, on her way out of town, when she got the word that she’d received the award.)
  • Claudette’s first husband was actor-turned-director Norman Foster, whose second wife was Sally Blane, the older sister of Loretta Young, with whom Foster appeared in two films.


See it.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and select Tomorrow is Forever (1946) as my SUTS pick. I have to admit that, generally speaking, I’m not wild about Claudette Colbert’s performances after, say, 1934 or so (although there a few exceptions, like The Palm Beach Story, released in 1942). But I was lured in by this film from almost the very start, and I just had to recommend it – not necessarily because of Colbert’s performance, but for so many other reasons. Starring Orson Welles and a young Natalie Wood, the movie is about a man, believed to have been killed in the war, who re-emerges in the life of his now-remarried wife. My description doesn’t do the movie justice. Check it out.

And join me for Day 28 of Summer Under the Stars!

~ by shadowsandsatin on August 26, 2020.

4 Responses to “TCM Summer Under the Stars: Day Twenty-Seven — Claudette Colbert”

  1. I’m looking forward to the tears today.

  2. PS: My daughter was around 10 when she joined me in the living room while I was watching Tomorrow is Forever. It broke her little heart and she glared at me for being so cruel as to “make her watch it.” Parenting! Geesh!

  3. […] Day 27: Claudette Colbert […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: