Name at birth: Claudette Lily Chauchoin
Claudette Colbert was a top Hollywood star in the 1930s and '40s, best known as Clark Gable's Oscar-winning co-star from the classic 1934 comedy It Happened One Night. Born in Paris, she moved to New York as a child and set out to be a fashion designer. She ended up on the stage instead, then caught the eye of Frank Capra and began making movies. A leading lady in a variety of films, she was best at sophisticated comedies. Famously ambitious and particular -- she was demanding about lighting and camera angles -- Colbert was one of Paramount's biggest stars before World War II. As her film opportunities declined in the 1950s she returned to the New York stage to rave reviews, including a Tony nomination for 1958's Marriage-Go-Round. Although she appeared in a handful of movies after the 1960s (including the 1987 TV movie The Two Mrs. Grenvilles), she spent her last decades between New York and Barbados in retirement. Her other films include Cleopatra (1934); Private Worlds (1935) and Since You Went Away (1944), both of which brought her Oscar nominations; Boom Town (1940, with Spencer Tracy); The Palm Beach Story (1942); and The Egg and I (1947).
Although Colbert was under contract with Paramount, she was on loan to Columbia Pictures for their production of It Happened One Night.
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