Thursday, June 3, 2010

Paulette Goddard

Paulette Goddard, was A former child fashion model and performed in several Broadway productions as a Ziegfeld Girl, she was a big star in the 1940's. She was married to 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). A film about a group of U.S. Army nurses, who leave San Francisco for their tour of duty in Hawaii in December 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor forever changes their lives.

Her first stage performance was, No Foolin(1926) where she played a small role. The next year, she made her stage acting debut in, The Unconquerable Male.

She changed her name to Paulette and took her mother's maiden name as her last name. Goddard then returned to Hollywood in 1929 where she performed in small roles in the classic films:

The Girl Habit (1931). A story about Charlie Floyd, a wealthy bachelor known for his womanizing, becomes engaged to the wealthy socialite Lucy Ledyard, which breaks many girls hearts.

Charlie meets Lucy and her overbearing mother Blanche at Rendel's department store to pick out Lucy's trousseau at the same time he is supposed to meet Sonya, a Russian saleslady with whom he has been involved.

At the advice of Huntley Palmer, who wants to marry Lucy for her money, Sonya lures Charlie to her flat with plans of blackmailing him with incriminating love letters. Sonya is married to New York's infamous killer, Tony Maloney, who promises to kill Charlie after walking in on them, while he is attempting to grab the letters.

Scared for Charlie's life, Sonya finds him eating dinner at the Ledyards' and returns the letters, but further tarnishes his reputation with his future in-laws when Palmer reads aloud a letter about her under things.

Maloney,  has knocked out the caterer and has entered the house looking to kill Charlie. Maloney and his thugs follow Charlie out of the house and he escapes with a car full of giggling girls, who happen to be driving by.

Palmer, who is Maloney's lawyer, talks Charlie into getting arrested because he feels jail is the only safe place for him. He gets himself arrested for accosting a woman, while Maloney takes the blame when Charlie hits a policeman with a brick.

Charlie's job is to keep the prison books and discovers that Henry the warden has embezzled $5,000, and uses the information to blackmail Henry into protecting him from Maloney.

The day of Maloney's and Charlie's release, Lucy and Blanche arrive with Palmer to inspect the prison and find Charlie hiding under the bed of the warden's wife, whom Charlie befriended when he found Henry abusing her.

When Charlie leaves the prison, Maloney's men surround him, but Sonya intervenes. Maloney then forces Palmer to confess that he framed Charlie with the letters. Despite her mother's objections, Lucy runs off with Charlie and leaves her mother to take the blame when Charlie hits another policeman with a brick.

The Mouthpiece (1932). When a successful prosecutor learns that a man he helped get convicted and then executed was in really innocent, he quits his DA job and becomes a defense attorney. He becomes rich and powerful defending guilty racketeers, but eventually sees that he went down the wrong path.

She then signed a contract with Hal Roach Studios and performed in:

The Kid from Spain(1932). Eddie and his Mexican friend Ricardo are expelled from college after Ricardo put Eddie in the girl's dormitory while he was drunk.

Eddie finds himself mixed up in a bank robbery and is forced to drive the robbers get away car. To get rid of him they force him to leave the USA for Mexico, but a cop is following him.

Eddie meets Ricardo there, Ricardo helps him avoid being arrested by the cop when he introduces Eddie as the great Spanish bullfighter Don Sebastian II.

The cop is still curious, buys tickets for the bullfight. Eddie's situation becomes more critical, when he tries to help Ricardo to win the girl he loves, but she's engaged to a "real" Mexican, who is, unknown to her father, involved in illegal business.

While trying to avoid all this trouble, Eddie himself falls in love with his friend's girl friend's sister Rosalie, who wants to see the great Don Sebastian II in the bull ring.

Pack Up Your Troubles (1932). The boys' Army buddy, Eddie Smith, is killed in the trenches in France, leaving his baby girl an orphan.

Back home in trying try to find Eddie's father, they keep coming up with the wrong Smiths and in the process disrupt a wedding by proclaiming the baby to be the groom's child.

Trying to avoid the child protective services, they sell their lunch wagon for the money to leave town. They accidentally knock the bank president unconscious and end up being wanted for a bank robbery.

In 1932, she met Charlie Chaplin, who began planning a film with Goddard, that would be released in 1936 as Modern Times. A story is about a Tramp, who struggles to live in modern times with the help of a young homeless woman.

Goddard also performed in a few films for Samuel Goldwyn Productions. Goddard became a 'Goldwyn Girl' and was featured in films such as:

Roman Scandals (1933). A story about a kind-hearted young man, who is thrown out of the corrupt town of West Rome, Oklahoma.

He falls asleep and dreams that he is back in the early days of Rome, where he gets mixed up with a murder plot against the Emperor.

Kid Millions (1934). A musical comedy about a Brooklyn boy who inherits a fortune from his archaeologist father, but has to go to Egypt to claim it.

Following the film Modern Times, Chaplin planned other films with Goddard in mind as a co-star. Tired of waiting around for things to happen, she signed a contract with David O. Selznick and was interested in the role of Scarlett O'Hara in his film version of, Gone with the Wind.

She performed in the comedy, The Young in Heart (1938). Thrown out of the Riviera, a family of drifters meets a lonely, vulnerable rich old woman and sponge off her.

Selznick loaned her to MGM to perform in the classic film, Dramatic School (1938). Aspiring actress Louise Muban attends a well known Paris School of Drama during the day and works at night at a factory assembling gas meters.

She daydreams her way through life and her friends at school begin to suspect her stories are all made up.

After Louise, has actual meeting with a playboy in a fantasy club, her friend Nana believes she is lying until she too meets the playboy. Nana sets a trap for Louise, to find out the truth...

The Women (1939). A story about the romantic lives of the interconnected women. With an all-female cast headed by Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell, Goddard played the supporting role of Miriam Aarons.

Goddard signed a contract with Paramount Pictures and her next film, The Cat and the Canary (1939), which was a turning point in the careers of both actors.

When an eccentric family meets in their uncle's remote, decaying mansion on the tenth anniversary of his death for the reading of his will... murder and problems follow.

She starred with Chaplin again in his 1940 film, The Great Dictator. Dictator Adenoid Hynkel has a twin, a poor but kind Jewish barber living in the slums, who one day is mistaken for Hynkel.

She was Fred Astaire's leading lady in the musical, Second Chorus (1940), where she met Burgess Meredith.

When college students Danny O'Neill and Hank Taylor are forced to make it on their own, the competitive pair get jobs with Artie Shaw's band and reunite with ex-manager Ellen Miller.

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.

Pop, a security guard at Paramount has told his son that he's the head of the studio. When his son arrives in Hollywood on shore leave with his buddies, Pop enlists the aid of the studio's dizzy switchboard operator in pulling off the charade.

Things get complicated when Pop agrees to put together a show for the Navy starring Paramount's favorite stars.

Her most successful film was, Kitty (1945), where she played the title role of an 18th century London wench, who gets involved with the nobility.

In The Diary of a Chambermaid (1946). Celestine, the chambermaid, has a new job in the country, at the Lanlaires. She has decided to seduce a wealthy man.

But Mr Lanlaire is not a right choice: the house is controlled by Mme Lanlaire, helped by the valet Joseph.

Then she sets her cap for the neighbor ex-officer Mauger. This seems to work, until the son of the Lanlaires comes back. He is young and does not share his mother's anti-republicans opinions.

Celestine attracts: Captain Mauger, young Georges Lanlaire, and also Joseph. Three men, from three different social classes. Will Celestine be able to convince Georges of her sincerity ? Will sinister and inflexible Joseph let his views upon Celestine be ruined ?

In 1947 she performed in the classic film, An Ideal Husband. A prominent politician wants to expose a huge financial scandal. Until a woman who has invested in the shady venture threatens to uncover a damaging secret in the politician's past if he comes forward with what he knows. His problem is compounded by his wife's intolerance of the slightest character flaws.

In 1949, she formed Monterey Pictures with John Steinbeck.

Her last starring roles were the English productions:

A Stranger Came Home(1954). A man on a fishing trip with three of his friends is hit in the head which causes him lose his memory.

Three years later.. it all comes back to him, but on the day it does one of the men who was on the fishing trip turns up dead.

Charge of the Lancers(1954). During the Crimean War, Jean Pierre Aumont and Richard Stapley are guards of a new cannon that can pierce the walls of the Russian fortress. They both are in love with the same nurse Karin Booth who, is really a Russian spy.

The Russians kidnap Stapley and Aumont is assigned to rescue him. On the way, he meets up with a gypsy family that includes Paulette Goddard as a daughter. Will he be able to find his friend?

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 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. About a penniless countess, who falls in love with a cad, unaware that he is also involved with her beautiful daughter.

Her last acting role was in, The Snoop Sisters (1972) for television.


  1. Great stuff about Paulette you posted Dawn. Just got around to reading it last night.

  2. Surprised to know that Paulette Goddard was a child fashion model. She was my moms favorite actress and she always gives me an orientation when we watch old movies.


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