Friday, May 31, 2013

The Silver Scenes Hollywood Home Tour - Off and Away!

Did you know that it costs $45 per person to take a bus ride in Hollywood to get a glimpse of the stars homes? Ee gads, how prices have soared! What's worse, most of the grand mansions belonging to the stars of the golden age have since been demolished; so you are probably going to see Omarosa's new zillion-dollar manor or some soap opera star's overpriced Bel Air bungalow instead. 

Well, don't worry about missing out on the grand homes of the classic movie actors anymore...we're going to take you on a tour of all of the great Hollywood actors homes - AND you won't have to pay one single penny to see them! ( How lucky can you get! )

That's right, Silver Scenes is going to host their own imagination-fueled Hollywood bus tour and take you on an extra long drive past all of the now-extinct million-dollar mansions that once surrounded the fair tinsel town. How are we going to accomplish this? On a time-travelling bus. We couldn't afford a new bus so we purchased an old rusty 1956 Greyhound Viewliner and lo and behold, can you imagine our surprise when we found out that while driving in that bus you get a view of 1956 Hollywood! Super neato!

So now you'll get to see how the stars' homes looked in the good ol' days....before the 1970s slump took over LA. We'd print up a map for you to follow along with, but we aren't planning on driving around the streets in any particular order. In fact, we love a leisurely ride so much, we're only going to drive by one or two houses per month. Better make sure you use the bathroom before you leave home, this tour is going to take several years ( or however long Silver Scenes stays afloat ) to complete. Don't forget to lock the house too.

Here's Al, the bus driver now, he can tell you more about this grand tour.  Al's a great guy. He's been in this business for more years than you can count. He'll stop the bus in front of the houses if you want to take a snapshot, or even let you pick grapefruits from Richard Widmark's fruit trees. ( Mr. Widmark is used to having his grapefruits snitched by fans )

"Welcome to the Silver Scenes Hollywood Home Tour. My name is Al Starr, and I'll be your guide on this Starr-studded tour. You can pick up your free souvenir tickets at the information booth and I'll stamp them for you, otherwise just pile into the bus. It's hot outside and this baby of mine's got a brand new ice box installed!" 

( Editor's Note: Silver Scenes hired a mechanic to completely restore the bus for Al. He loves it. ) 

"Take a seat anywhere you like folks. We'll be seeing lots of great homes so make sure you got your camera. If you need any extra film during the ride just let me know...I got some spare Kodak rolls up here with me. Is everybody settled in? Well, let's begin the tour!

" First off, let me give you all an overview of what you will be seeing on this tour. We'll start off in downtown Los Angeles, pass into Hollywood and drive by Forest Lawn Memorial Park. There, remains to be seen can be seen. Then we'll take a spin down Wilshire Blvd., head right through the heart of Beverly Hills, Sunset Boulevard and onto Bel-Air and beyond. You'll see the homes of Don Ameche, Alice Faye, Tyrone Power, Loretta Young, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Doris Day, Will Rogers, Red Skeleton, Jane Withers, Ann Sothern, Sessue Hayakawa, Charlton Heston, Pal Newman, William Powell, and many many more. If you want a see a house that isn't on our route...holler out! I love to go off the beaten path. And feel free to ask questions."

"Fasten the kiddies in and grab yourself a sandwich - they're in the cooler in the back of the bus, we got chicken or liverwurst...made fresh by the Metzinger sisters. Now let's get this baby on the road!" 

"The first home we see coming up here on your right is that of comedian Eddie Anderson, best known as Jack Benny's quipping sidekick and valet, "Rochester". Jack Benny isn't as stingy as we believe him to be! Rochester's weekly paycheck must be a heck of lot for him to afford this white palatial mansion. He must need a staff of at least six servants himself just to take care of it. And to top it all off : while other stars live on streets with general names like Palomino Drive or Carmelita Avenue, Eddie Anderson lives on Rochester Circle! Doesn't he have beautiful landscaping? "

1932 Rochester Circle, Los Angeles, California
Up-to-date Note: This once beautiful manor still stands at 1932 Rochester Circle and is now a hostel known as the Mansion Hostel. It doesn't look like the neighborhood is now what it once was. So sad....

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Beloved Brat - Bonita Granville

Bonita Granville was one of Hollywood's finest and most versatile child actors. On the big screen she perfected a characterization of a malicious child that had not been portrayed previously. Bonita Granville was uniquely Bonita Granville....a "beloved brat". No other actress was quite able to rival her in these roles. Virginia Weidler was a contemporary and was often given mischievous juvenile parts but unlike Bonita she was perceived as a child. Naughty, and perhaps conniving, but nevertheless a child, whereas Bonita had a maturity about her that made her viciousness particularly fearful. She was the original "bad seed". It was not until the late 1950s that child actors like Patty McCormick and Martin Stephens ( "Village of the Damned" ) perfected these kinds of portrayals again. 

Bonita Granville was born on February 2, 1923 in Long Island, New York and came from a family rich in entertainment lineage. Her mother was Rosa Timponti, an actress, whose parents included a ballerina for the Ballet Russes in Monaco, and a conductor of the famed La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy. Bonita's father, Bernard Granville, was a vaudeville actor who had appeared with the Ziegfeld Follies on the New York stage. 

The Granvilles lost much of their fortune during the Great Depression and, due to an illness Bonita had contracted, decided to head out West to California, the land of promise and sunshine cures. Bonita quickly recovered and a casting director spotted the sprightly little blonde in a hotel lobby one day and decided she belonged in the "talking pictures". 

Her first role was in 'Westward Passage" ( 1932 ) at the age of tender age of nine. She played Little Olivia Allen opposite such big names as Ann Harding and a young Laurence Olivier. Other bit parts quickly followed in movies such as "Little Women", "Anne of Green Gables", and a small role in Noel Coward's "Cavalcade" ( 1933 ) which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture that year. It was in 1936 that Bonita performed in the movie that would really bring her to stardom - "These Three". Based on Lillian Hellmann's play, The Children's Hour, it told the story of two teachers whose lives are wrecked by the lies of one of their students. Bonita Granville played this student and was so utterly spiteful and malicious that she stole every scene she was in away from Miriam Hopkins and Merle Oberon. Her performance did not go unnoticed and she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress ( not a "miniature" one either ). She lost to Gale Sondergaard for "Anthony Adverse" but her career was well boosted by the publicity and parts came pouring in. 

Unfortunately, many of these parts were once again roles calling for a particularly hateful child. In 1937's "Maid of Salem" she portrays a little girl who spreads accusations that Claudette Colbert is a witch who deserves to be burned. That same year she had minor roles in "The Plough and the Stars", "Quality Street", "My Bill", as well as the title role in "Beloved Brat". How well that title suited her! This film told the story of an unruly girl whose father sends her away to a private school where she reforms under the loving care of the principal ( played by the beautiful Dolores Costello ). 

As is often the case in Hollywood, many of the actors who portray the vilest villains onscreen are the sweetest characters in real life, and so was the case with Bonita Granville. She was called "Bunny" by her friends, which included Marcia Mae Jones, Helen Parrish and Deanna Durbin, and enjoyed horseback riding, dress designing, and collecting ivory elephant figurines. She spoke fluent French and Italian and was raised a devout Catholic, attending church regularly.

One of her first boyfriends was Jackie Cooper, another child star, whom she got to work with in "Syncopation"( 1940 ), a very un-syncopated story of two jazz-obsessed youths. 

In 1938, Warner Brothers cast her as the spunky Nancy Drew in the first of a series of four films featuring Carolyn Keene's beloved girl sleuth. Although the stories didn't bear much resemblance to the books they were a hit at the box-office and are today still a sheer delight to watch. Nancy Drew has remained her most fondly remembered role. Several other parts in mystery films developed because of the Drew series, including "Gallant Sons" ( with Jackie Cooper again ), a story of several boys who solve a murder, and "Down in San Diego" ( 1941 ) about a group of teenagers who foil an enemy spy ring. 

In 1940 she starred in two charming films that look back with nostalgia on America at the turn-of-the-century..."Wild Man from Borneo" ( with Frank Morgan ) and "Those Were the Days!" ( 1940 ) featuring William Holden in one of his first major roles. 

Bonita was finally getting roles for characters that let her exercise her range as an actress. "Seven Miles from Alcatraz" ( 1943 ) featured Bonita as the daughter of a lighthouse keeper
who aids two convicts in hiding from the authorities. Since one of the convicts happens to be handsome James Craig ( sigh ), romance naturally ensues between them. 

That same year Bonita starred in the film she claimed was her favorite, "Hitler's Children". This was a violent pot-boiler about the horrors young women had to face in the Vaterland for refusing sterilization for childbirth. It slipped by the censorship office under it's disguise of educational patriotic fare and became RKO's top box-office champion of the year, grossing over three million dollars. Tim Holt, Kent Smith and Otto Kruger also starred in this sensational expose. 

As with most juvenile leading ladies at MGM, Bonita got to star in several Andy Hardy films. In "Now, Voyager" she played Charlotte Vale's rather tart-tongued niece who helped drive Charlotte to a much-needed nervous breakdown. She also had meaty roles in two excellent films, "H.M Pulham Esq" ( as Robert Young's sister ) and the film noir classic, "The Glass Key" starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. 

In 1947, Bonita married Jack Wrather, an entrepreneur, oil tycoon, and ex-Marine officer. In the years following she would let her career take a back-seat interest while she helped her husband grow Wrather Corporation into an entertainment and broadcasting empire. Throughout the 1950s, Jack Wrather acquired television properties such as "Lassie", "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon", and "The Lone Ranger" which were developed into icons of American pop culture. Bonita Granville Wrather took the helm as executive producer of "Lassie" while her husband pursued development of another branch of the corporation - tourist attractions.
In 1955, Walt Disney selected him to build and oversee the Disneyland Hotel across from which Wrather successfully did when others considered Disneyland a risky venture. 

Around this same time he also purchased Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose and a controlling interest in the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California and transformed them into tourist attractions. Along with Associated Television Ltd. of England, the Wrather Corporation founded International Television Corp. ( ITC ) which became one of the major television distribution companies of the 1960s and 70s.

During the 1950s Bonita kept busy with her involvement in Jack's interests as well as in raising their two children, Christopher and Linda. Little Linda appeared in several episodes of her parents television show "Lassie" as Wilhemena Brewster. Still, Bonita found time to appear occasionally on television in several Studio One and Playhouse 90 productions and in the film version of "The Lone Ranger". 

In later years she was a leader in charitable and civic causes and served on the boards of the Los Angeles Orphanage Guild and the Children's Bureau of Los Angeles. With Jack she helped support their good friend Ronald Reagan into the governorship and later with his bid for presidency. 

When her husband died in 1984, she directed the numerous enterprises of the corporation until its sale to the Disney Corporation in 1988. She also served as chairman of the American Film Institute from 1986 until her death at the age of 65, in 1988.

Bonita Granville began her career as a beloved brat and then blossomed into an All-American girl hero as Nancy Drew, and a lovely leading lady....and later in life grew to be a true humanitarian. Unlike many child stars, she had no difficulty in making the transition to adult roles. Perhaps this was due to the fact that her roles, even as a child, were well beyond her years. 

This post is my contribution to Comet Over Hollywood's Children in Film Blogathon dedicated to some of the cutest and most talented child stars of the golden age of film. To read  about the other entries in this series click here.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Howard Hawk's "Man's Favorite Sport?" ( 1964 )

If you were to watch only the credits to "Man's Favorite Sport?" you would think that the sport they are referring to is chasing women, but it is quite the contrary. Fishing. That's what this is all about. That age old pleasurable pursuit of man against fish. 

Roger Willoughby ( Rock Hudson ) is an authority on the subject. He is the best-selling author of several books on fishing and a sporting goods salesman at Abercrombie & Fitch ( the L.L. Bean of the West Coast ). Hence, PR representative Abigail Page ( Paula Prentiss ) thinks he is a natural choice for a celebrity competitor when she schemes up a publicity campaign of hosting a fishing tournament at Lake Wakapoogee lodge and campground. What a draw to the will jump at the chance to compete against pro-fisherman Roger Willoughby. Why, it's like having a chance to golf against Tiger Woods! Only problem is - Woods doesn't know how to play golf. I mean, Willoughby doesn't know how to fish. In fact, he can't even stand the sight of fish; hates the taste of them too.

When he finally shares his dark secret with Abigail she decides he will just have to learn. She's not going to pass up such great publicity.... besides, she already has a yen for him. And this is where the fun begins. In the short span of 3 days prior to the tournament, Roger has to learn how to fish, how to swim, how to set up camp, as well as make sure he puts up a good front when the competitors come pouring in. He may lose his job if his boss finds out he isn't as skilled as he thought and he may lose his fiance when she discovers just what Abigail has up her sleeve!

"Man's Favorite Sport?" was based on a short story by Pat Frank titled 'The Girl That Almost Got Away'. It was filmed in 1962 and released in theaters in early 1964. The movie was an excellent vehicle for Rock Hudson and suited his awkward comedic talent perfectly, a natural sense of comedy which he had demonstrated successfully in "Pillow Talk", "Send Me No Flowers", "Lover Come Back" and "Come September". Unlike these films however, "Man's Favorite Sport?" did not score well at the box-office. Critics were harsh - lukewarm at best - and the public did not embrace it. Perhaps it was the changing times. Or perhaps they were judging it based on Howard Hawks' past successes. 

The film boasts a peppy score by Henry Mancini ( Ann-Margret released an excellent recording of the title song as a single ) and a wonderful cast of supporting players including Maria Perschy, Charlene Holt, John McGiver, Norman Alden, Roscoe Karns, and a guest appearance by pro-fisherman Joe Kilroy, sporting a cast of his very own.  
Maria Perschy was an Austrian actress who could of been the next Romy Schneider but her career never took off in Hollywood. She split her time between European and American pictures and starred in a few memorable films such as "Freud", "633 Squadron" and "Five Golden Dragons". In "Man's Favorite Sport" she plays Isolde "Easy" Mueller, the owner of the Lake Wakapoogee resort and Abigail's friend.

Charlene Holt, the stunning Texan redhead who portrays Roger's fiancee "Tex", was discovered by Howard Hawks while making a Revlon lipstick commercial. She was a top model in the industry and often appeared on television elegantly pushing products of one kind or another. Hawks was grooming her for stardom and after this small part put her in two other films,"Red Line 7000" ( 1965 ) and "El Dorado" ( 1966 ), opposite John Wayne. 

John McGiver made a career of playing dazed and drunk employers with high standards. He was a character who popped up in dozens of light-hearted comedies during the 1960s, notably in "Mr.Hobbs Takes a Vacation"( 1962 ) and "Who's Minding the Store?" ( 1963 ).  

Howard Hawks liked to do the unexpected. He enjoyed filming movies that were just a little bit different, a little out of the norm. In 1963 a very assertive tomboyish business woman was not a common role to cast. He selected Paula Prentiss for this part and the role suited her to perfection.  After "Where the Boys Are" ( 1960 ) the lovely Paula Prentiss shot to stardom as one of the most delightful screwball comediennes of the 1960s and she was quickly put in a string of romantic comedies where she was teamed with Jim Hudson. She also played a supporting role in the Bob Hope comedy "Bachelor in Paradise" ( 1961 ). Most often she played engaging, outspoken women who were a bit on the flighty side. At first, Paramount refused to have Paula Prentiss in the film but Howard Hawks knew she was the right choice and moved the production over to Universal in order to secure her. After "Man's Favorite Sport?" she made a handful more comedies and then her popularity took a nose-dive. Today, her most well-remembered role is Bobbie Markowe in "The Stepford Wives" ( 1975 ). 

The first time I saw "Man's Favorite Sport" I did not think much of the movie. It seemed routine, but my father enjoyed it thoroughly because of its camping/fishing theme and colorful location shots, so we'd watch it again every couple of months and by golly, after several years of repeat viewing it has become one of my favorites. In winter, my family watch it to stir up our anticipation for summer and the camping plans we have made and in summer we take the DVD along with us on our outings. After a long day of hiking my sister and I hop into our tent and pop "Man's Favorite Sport" in our portable DVD player. Watching it takes away the fear of knowing there may be black bears lurking right outside our tent...and not the mini-bike riding species. 

There are some critics who consider Howard Hawks an avant-garde genius of a filmmaker. They analyze and take apart his films searching to discover the hidden meaning within each of his pictures. But I don't believe he put secret meanings within his films. I don't believe he made a movie - whether it be a comedy, a war film, or a western - for the masses and then hid subtle subtexts within it for the discerning to fathom. Howard Hawks was a simple man and a simple
director. He learned early in his career a valuable lesson from Sol Wurtzel ( Fox Studios production head ) ..." Make something that's entertaining! "*. And this is what he set out to do..and has accomplished in doing. Hawks was one of the few directors in Hollywood who had complete control over his films. He could make script re-writes, scene changes, casting changes, entire production changes, and not have to report to a superior. He was the boss and as such I believe he made films that he personally would enjoy most. Hawks was a man's man. He was an outdoors man at heart and loved to ride, to hunt, to ski, and to fish. 

His simple view of filming was evident in a discussion with the audience at the 1970 Chicago Film Festival :

Q: You say you are an entertainer, but the French critics in the last few years have been treating you as something more than that. Do you think they are right? 

A : ( Hawks ) Oh, I listen to them, but I get open-mouthed and wonder where they find some of the stuff that they say about me. All I'm doing is telling a story. I'm very glad that they like it, and I'm very glad that a lot of them are copying what I do, but they find things.......I work on the fact that if I like somebody and think they're attractive, I can make them attractive. If I think a thing's funny, then people laugh at it. They give me credit for an awful lot of things that I don't pay attention to at all. *

If there is any underlying theme in "Man's Favorite Sport?" it is fakery. The sets are as artificial as the sporting goods department display at Abercrombie & Fitch. They are, like Roger himself, merely for display purposes. Roger is a sham, he is not the he-man he pretends to be. He cannot fish, he cannot build a fire, and he even cries for Abigail's help when he is floundering in the water. Chief Screaming Eagle is a sham. Even the title credits are a sham. We listen to a chorus of women singing " Just let a girl appear, he'll pursue her; And run his fingers through her curls; And that's the way it's been since the world began...the favorite sport of men is girls " stressing the point that man's favorite sport is pursuing women when all through the film it is the woman who is doing the pursuing. Roger is caught in Abigail's net and is as helpless as a fish trying to escape. 

"Man's Favorite Sport?" was intended to be a tribute to Howard Hawks' own comedy masterpiece, "Bringing Up Baby" ( 1938 ) starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. He originally intended to have the two stars re-united for this fishing expedition. Hepburn declined.  Paula Prentiss was cast. Cary Grant believed he was too old for the role of a man being pursued by a younger woman, so he opted out as well. Although Rock Hudson did a great job of making the role of Roger Willoughby his own, many feel that he was trying to be a "Cary Grant" and failed miserably. 

"Man's Favorite Sport?" is certainly no "Bringing Up Baby" and does not rank along with the Rock Hudson/Doris Day comedies, but nevertheless it has it's entertaining moments and leaves you with a wonderful carefree feeling after watching it. This is one of those rare films where the plot actually gets better as the story progresses. The movie starts off rather slow but picks up momentem once Roger arrives at Lake Wakapoogee. "Man's Favorite Sport?" is innocent enough for the very young to watch and subtly entertaining for adults. Although it is quite long for a comedy ( over 2 hours runtime ) it is so colorful and amusing that the clock moves swiftly. 

* Excerpts from "Focus on Howard Hawks", edited by James McBride. Prentice-Hall, 1972.

This post is my contribution for Seetimaar- Diary of a Movie Lover's Howard Hawks Blogathon celebrating the films, life and career of this versatile director. For a complete list of participating bloggers and to read more about the films of Howard Hawks, visit the website here. 

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dating Tips from Rock Hudson

Here are some "rock" solid dating tips from lover boy himself...Mr. Rock Hudson! In this modern age it is hard to find good advice on dating so we decided to see what can be learned from one of the most debonair men of the 1950s and 60s. Who said you can't learn valuable lessons on life from the movies? On screen, Rock gave alot of great tips on man's favorite sport, the pursuit of women. So let's ado with any more talk and get on to the juicy tips he gave....

Do's - 

- Drive a luxury car. And there isn't any car more luxurious than a Rolls. That was Rock's choice and it should be yours too. If you own a villa in Italy that helps alot too. Women love a room with a view. 

- Be a Texan gentleman and wear a tweed suit. A lady will overlook a gruffy beard when she meets a true gentleman, and nothing spells a gentleman like an over-sized tweed suit. 

- Learn all the latest dance moves. Is the Watusi in style? Well, you better dig that and shimmy real good. You never know when you may be called upon to show off your dance moves, so they better be impressive.

- Get into a brawl over a worthy cause. There's nothing women like more than seeing their man be the hero...even if you do wind up with your face in the salad bowl. It will make a giant man out of you. 

- Dress appropriately. It is true, styles come and go, but pink flower hats and war paint are never proper attire for everyday shopping..and if you really want to get close to the chicks you'll have to do a lot of shopping with them. 

If you follow these "dos" of dating you'll be sure to have your date pining "lover come back!" and asking for more pillow talk. You are on the road to starting a relationship that is something of value, and may even become a magnificent obsession for you. 

Don'ts - 

- Don't get your tie caught in your girlfriend's dress zipper.  Not only is it an embarrassing situation but those zippers are murder on a man's tie! 

- Don't kiss the neighborhood divorcee in the country club coat room...especially in front of your sweetheart. Sneaky is as sneaky does. 

- Don't call your date on a three-way party line. The gal on the other end may just be more interesting than your sweetheart and then where would you be?

- And lastly, when it is time for the big wedding don't escort your bride to the church in a paddy wagon. Yes, they are very safe vehicles and can be hired cheaply, but a bride wants something special. Even a poultry truck would be a better choice. 

If you don't follow these simple tips than do not be surprised if your date calls you a strange bedfellow and tells you to "Do me a very special favor and send me no flowers". Say farewell to her arms then, that love is written on the wind. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Claudette Colbert - So Proudly I Hail

One of my favorite actresses of classic Hollywood is Claudette Colbert...a lovely lady and a very talented actress of the American stage and screen. Her illustrious career spanned sixty-four years from 1923 until 1987 with over sixty film and television performances to her credit as well as numerous theatrical performances.  

Emilie Claudette Chauchoin was born to Georges, a baker, and his wife Jeanne on September 13, 1903 in Saint-Mande, Val-de-Marne, France. She had an older brother named Charles, who was five years older than she was. With an uncle already living in New York City, Emilie and her immediate family, as well as her maternal grandmother Marie and an aunt, emigrated to the United States in 1906 and made their home in New York City taking up residence in a fifth-floor apartment on 53rd Street.

Young "Lily", as was her nickname, had two passions: art and theater. As a student at Washington Irving High School, Lily excelled at art and hoped to become a fashion designer. When she was 15 years old, her speech teacher encouraged her to audition for a part in a high school play called "The Widow's Veil", which she won.

Though she enjoyed being on the stage, her desire to study fashion was strong and after she graduated from high school in 1923, she got a job in a dress shop to help pay for her tuition as a student in the prestigious Art Students League of New York.

That same year, Lily attended a party and fellow guest, writer Anne Morrison, offered her small part in her Broadway play "The Wild Westcotts". It was at this time that Lily decided to change her professional name to Claudette Colbert, Colbert being her grandmother Marie's maiden name.

Claudette's great talent and grace brought her much success on Broadway from 1925 until 1929, most notably in "The Barker" (1927). During that time, Claudette married actor Norman Foster, who would later become a director of films like:  "Think Fast, Mr. Moto" (1937), "Charlie Chan at Treasure Island" (1939), "Journey into Fear" (1942), "Rachel and the Stranger" (1948), and "Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier" (1955).

When the Great Depression hit America in the late 1920's, good parts were hard to find on the New York stage. It was during a performance of "The Barker" that Claudette was noticed by theatrical producer Leland Hayward, who offered her a part in a film entitled "For the Love of Mike", which was filmed on Paramount Pictures' Astoria, Queens, New York City studio lot. This was to be her very first film role.

The film was directed by the great Frank Capra and it told the story of three men who adopt a baby boy together named Mike and raise him the best way they can. Despite its tender plot, the film tanked at the box office. Mr. Capra was left without a job and the movie-making experience made such a poor impression on Miss Colbert that she eagerly returned to the theater and famously quoted "I shall never make another film!"

While she held firmly to her belief, movie roles were easier to get than roles on the stage, so Claudette found herself more and more often in front of the camera making films, among them being several pictures in which she played alongside handsome actor Fredric March, like in "Tonight is Ours" (1933) and "The Sign of the Cross".

Frank Capra and Claudette's paths would meet again in 1934 when Mr. Capra cast her for the part of heiress Ellie Andrews in what would become her ticket to stardom in "It Happened One Night". In addition to the success the film made at the box office, Claudette would win a Best Actress Academy Award and Frank Capra would win a Best Director Academy Award. This memorable film showcased Miss Colbert's natural comedic skills and the audience came to recognize her as a bright and shining new comedy star.

In August 1935, Claudette's divorce from Norman Foster was finalized and four months later on Christmas Eve, she married Dr. Joel Pressman. Claudette's happy marriage and a successful movie career made the next fifteen years joyful and busy for the new star.

Some of her best performances were given during this productive time in her career like:

"Imitation of Life" (1934): Fannie Hurst's emotionally stirring novel tells the story of a young widow who starts a profitable flapjack establishment yet she and her maid (Louise Beavers) face bitter challenges involving their daughters. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and it was re-made in 1959 with Lana Turner, John Gavin, Sandra Dee and Susan Kohner.

"The Bride Comes Home" (1935): When Jeannette finds out that her supposedly wealthy father is actually penniless, her close friend Jack (Robert Young) offers her job as a secretary for the new men's magazine he has just started. Though Jack is very much in love with her, Jeannette finds herself slowly falling in love with Jack's tough talking friend, bodyguard and fellow staff writer Cyrus (Fred MacMurray).

"Midnight" (1939): Claudette dazzles as Eve Peabody, a penniless girl in France who is hired by Georges (John Barrymore) to attract the attention of a gigolo (Francis Lederer) who is making a play for Georges' wife Helene (Mary Astor). Don Ameche is Tibor, a kind-hearted taxi driver, who has fallen in love with Eve and decides to throw a wrench into her plans by pretending to be her devoted husband! I love this film for its snappy one-liners and the romantic tension between Eve and Tibor. Though, deep down in her heart, she loves Tibor, she is drawn to the promise of a future with financial security. Luckily, Eve comes to the realization that love is more important than anything in the world ( and it is, too! )

"Drums Along the Mohawk" (1939): Magdelana (Claudette) and her husband Gilbert (Henry Fonda) along with other colonists battle attacks with Indians and Tories in New York's Mohawk Valley during the time of the American Revolution. The film was directed by John Ford from a novel by Walter Edmonds. It featured a wonderful cast with character actors like Edna May Oliver, Arthur Shields and Ward Bond.

"Palm Beach Story" (1942): Gerry (Claudette) impulsively travels to Palm Beach, Florida to obtain a divorce from her inventor husband Tom (Joel McCrea) and then snag a millionaire, played to perfection by good-hearted Rudy Vallee. Her plan is to fund her soon-to-be-ex-husband's new invention with money from her new husband. Preston Sturges wrote and directed this witty comedy which is sure to tickle your funny bone!

"So Proudly We Hail" (1943): Allan Scott's story focused on the lives of three brave nurses (Claudette, Paulette Goddard and Veronica Lake) going beyond the call of duty to help the sick and the injured during World War II. This gem featured an excellent cast and it rightly earned four Academy Award nominations.  

"Since You Went Away" (1944): This is my favorite Claudette Colbert film! After her husband leaves for basic training, loving wife Anne (Claudette) bravely continues on with her life at home raising the couple's two teenage daughters Jane and Bridget (Jennifer Jones and Shirley Temple). Anne is a symbol of the wives and mothers who did their duty by helping the men and women fighting overseas and by trying to make life as comfortable as possible on the homefront. The film was based on Margaret Buell Wilder's book and it is beautifully acted and filmed. I love it more each time I watch it.

"The Egg and I" (1947): Bob (Fred MacMurray) is a spirited man who brings Betty, his sophisicated Boston-bred wife, to the country and attempt to raise chickens on their rundown farm. This hilarious film was based on Betty MacDonald's beloved story and it became a hit movie which also helped launch the 'Ma & Pa Kettle' film series with Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride, who made their debut in "The Egg and I".

"Family Honeymoon" (1949): Katie Armstrong (Claudette) is a widow with three rambuctious children ( Peter Miles, Jimmy Hunt and Gigi Perreau) who marries botany professor Grant Jordan. The newlyweds take off on a honeymoon with the children aboard a train and they make a stop at beautiful Grand Canyon. Mr. Jordan makes every effort to win his stepchildren's approval, though it proves to be a harder task than he had originally thought. Along the way, Grant runs into his former sweetheart Minna (Rita Johnson) who would very much like to re-kindle the fire between Grant and herself. Oh my! 

With the advent of television in the 1950's, Claudette was able to land numerous top notch parts on programs like: "The Ford Television Theater", "Climax!", "The Loretta Young Show", "Robert Montgomery Presents", "Playhouse 90", "The Colgate Theater" and others. She also played Ruth Condomine in "Blithe Spirit" in a 1956 T.V. movie as well as Sister Benedict in the "Bells of St. Mary" in 1959.  

In addition to her T.V. work, Claudette narrated Anne Morrow Lindbergh's memoir "Gift from the Sea" in 1955. That same year, she returned to the stage in "Janus", in which she replaced actress Margaret Sullavan during the spring and summer season. Two years later, from 1958 until 1960, Claudette brought her signature sparkle to the Plymouth Theatre in "The Marriage-Go-Round", co-starring her very dear friend Charles Boyer and Julie Newmar. Claudette's performance earned her a Tony Award nomination in 1959.  

Though her work schedule kept her extremely busy at this time, Claudette and her husband were able to relax and they divided their time between an elegant apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York City and a 200-year old plantation home on the tropical island of Barbados in the Caribbean where they entertained guests such as close friends Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Reagan and singer Frank Sinatra.

Though Claudette possessed the maternal quality that made her the perfect mother on the silver screen, she and her husband did not have any children of their own, which is very sad because I feel as though she would have been a wonderful mother in real life, too.

Miss Colbert's last film appearance was as Troy Donahue's mother Ellen McLean in the 1961 drama "Parrish" which also starred Karl Malden, Connie Stevens and Diane McBain. After the completion of the film, she went into semi-retirement. She would return to the stage in "Julia, Jake and Uncle Joe" and "The Irregular Verb to Love". 

Sadly, Claudette became a widow in February 1968, when her husband Dr. Pressman passed away. Their loving marriage had lasted thirty-three happy years. 

In the years that followed, Miss Colbert played alongside the great English actor Rex Harrison in two plays, "The Kingfisher" for 181 shows from 1978 until 1979 and "Aren't We All" for 93 shows which debuted in 1985. Claudette made her last television appearance in 1987 in the T.V. movie "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" which also starred Ann-Margret, Stephen Collins and Elizabeth Ashley. She won a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe Award in 1988 for her portrayal of Alice Grenville. 

At the age of 80, Claudette, looking radiant as ever, was honored with a special tribute by the Lincoln Center in May 1984. She was greeted by a cheering, applauding audience and she thanked them for coming to the event. 

Claudette tragically suffered a series of strokes in the 1990's and on July 30, 1996 she passed away in Speightstown, Barbados at the age of 92. 

The beautiful vivacious Lily Chauchoin delighted us and inspired us with her engaging personality and warmth, and she continues to do so today for each new generation of classic movie fans. Thank you Claudette for all the happiness your films bring into the lives of millions of people around the world!

Written by Diana Metzinger
There were so many wonderful pictures of Ms.Colbert that I had to add some extras to share below :

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