Goddard, Paulette (1905–1990) | Encyclopedia.com (2024)

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American actress . Born Pauline Marion Levee (also seen as Levy), on June 3, 1905, in Whitestone Landing, Long Island, New York; died of heart failure on April 23, 1990, at her villa in Ronco, Switzerland; married Edgar James (a lumber industrialist), around 1927 (divorced 1931); married Charlie Chaplin (an actor, director, producer), in 1936 (divorced 1942); married Burgess Meredith (an actor), in 1944 (divorced 1950); married Erich Maria Remarque (a novelist), in 1958 (died 1970); no children.


(short) Berth Marks (1929); The Locked Door (1929); City Streets (1931); The Girl Habit (1931); The Mouthpiece (1932); (short) Show Business (1932); (short) Young Ironsides (1932); Pack

Up Your Troubles (1932); (short) Girl Grief (1932); The Kid from Spain (1932); Roman Scandals (1933); Kid Millions (1934); Modern Times (1936); The Young in Heart (1938); Dramatic School (1938); The Women (1939); The Cat and the Canary (1939); The Ghost Breakers (1940); The Great Dictator (1940); North West Mounted Police (1940); Second Chorus (1941); Pot o'Gold (1941); Hold Back the Dawn (1941); Nothing but the Truth (1941); The Lady Has Plans (1942); Reap the Wild Wind (1942); The Forest Rangers (1942); (cameo) Star Spangled Rhythm (1942); The Crystal Ball (1943); So Proudly We Hail (1943); Standing Room Only (1944); I Love a Soldier (1944); (cameo) Duffy's Tavern (1945); Kitty (1946); The Diary of a Chambermaid (1946); Suddenly It's Spring (1947); (cameo) Variety Girl (1947); (cameo) Unconquered (1947); An Ideal Husband (UK, 1948); On Our Merry Way (A Miracle Can Happen, 1948); Hazard (1948); Bride of Vengeance (1949); Anna Lucasta (1949); The Torch (1950); Babes in Baghdad (1952); Vice Squad (1953); Paris Model (1953); Sins of Jezebel (1953); The Charge of the Lancers (1954); The Stranger Came Home (The Unholy Four, UK, 1954); Gli Indifferenti (Time of Indifference, It./Fr., 1964).

Paulette Goddard was born Pauline Marion Levee in Whitestone Landing, Long Island, in 1905, and went to work at age 14, shortly after the breakup of her parents' marriage. Reportedly, an uncle used his influence to get her a job with producer Flo Ziegfeld, who billed her as Peaches Browning ( Frances Heenan ) in his 1926 hit No Fooling. The next year, while on the road in Rio Rita, Goddard met and married her first husband Edward James, president of the Southern States Lumber Company, and retired from the stage to become a housewife. However, by 1931, she had obtained a Reno divorce and was headed for Hollywood to break into the movies. Taking her mother's maiden name, Goddard played a series of bit parts in films until signing as a contract player for Hal Roach. She was let go after six months and returned to the stage, appearing in the choruses of a few musicals of the period, such as The Kid from Spain (1932) with Eddie Cantor.

Charlie Chaplin was next in line to impact Goddard's life, but her relationship with him is cloaked in mystery. (Their marriage was not even confirmed until their divorce in 1942.) By some accounts, they met on a yachting excursion, during which he talked her out of investing her alimony in a phony film venture. Captivated by her beauty and her cynical wit, he cast her in the role of the waif in Modern Times, which began shooting in 1932 but did not premiere until 1936 (the year they were supposedly secretly married at sea). Goddard appeared in Chaplin's next film The Great Dictator (1940), but he worked so slowly that while they were in production, she made some other important films, including Second Chorus (1941) in which she briefly danced with Fred Astaire; she also made the acquaintance of Burgess Meredith, whom she married after divorcing Chaplin. Among Goddard's sorrows, at this phase in her career, was the loss of the coveted role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind, a part said to have been hers until it was given to Vivien Leigh at the last minute.

Through the 1940s, Goddard was one of Paramount's top stars, usually cast in vixen roles, though she excelled in comedy. She was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her performance in So Proudly We Hail (1943), a war drama with Claudette Colbert and Veronica Lake , and she starred in top-notch movies such as Kitty (1946) and Unconquered (1947). By the 1950s, however, like other actresses her age, her star began to fade, and she could only find leads in B pictures with ludicrous titles, movies like Bride of Vengeance (1949) and Babes in Baghdad (1952).

After divorcing Meredith in 1950, Goddard married the novelist Erich Maria Remarque in 1958 and enjoyed a luxurious retirement shuttling back and forth between Paris and New York. She made one come-back attempt in 1964, as Claudia Cardinale 's mother in the Italian film Time of Indifference. Her final appearance was in the television movie "The Snoop Sisters" (1972). Goddard died of heart failure in April of 1990; in her final bequest, she left $20 million to New York University.


Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia. NY: Harper-Collins, 1994.

Lamparski, Richard. Whatever Became of…? 1st and 2nd Series. NY: Crown, 1968.

Shipman, David. The Great Movie Stars: The Golden Years. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

Goddard, Paulette (1905–1990) | Encyclopedia.com (2024)
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