was an American film and theatre actress. A child fashion model and a performer in several Broadway productions as a Ziegfeld Girl, she became a major star of the Paramount Studio in the 1940s. She was married to several notable men, including 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).
Early lifePaulette Goddard was born Marion Pauline Levy in Whitestone Landing, Queens, Long Island. She was the only child of Joseph Russell Levy, who was Jewish, and Alta Mae Goddard, who was Episcopalian and of English heritage. Her parents divorced while she was young, and she was raised by her mother. Her father virtually vanished from her life, only to resurface later in the late 1930s after she became a star. At first, their newfound relationship seemed genial and they attended film premières together, but later he sued her over a magazine article in which she purportedly claimed he abandoned her when she was young. They never reconciled. On his death, he left her one dollar in his will. She remained very close to her mother, however, as both had struggled through those early years, with her great uncle, Charles Goddard (her grandfather's brother) lending a hand.
Charles Goddard helped his great niece find jobs as a fashion model, and with the Ziegfeld Follies as one of the heavily decorated Ziegfeld Girls from 1924 to 1928. She attended Washington Irving High School in Manhattan at the same time as future film star Claire Trevor.
CareerHer stage debut was in the Ziegfeld revue No Foolin in 1926, and played a small role in Rio Rita. The next year she made her stage acting debut in The Unconquerable Male. She also changed her first name to Paulette and took her mother's maiden name (which also happened to be her favorite great uncle Charles' last name) as her own last name. She married an older, wealthy businessman, lumber tycoon Edgar James, in 1926 or 1927 and moved to North Carolina. Goddard returned to Hollywood in 1929 and they were divorced in 1930.
Hal Roach Studios, and appeared in films such as The Kid from Spain and Laurel and Hardy's Pack Up Your Troubles (both 1932). In 1932, she met Charlie Chaplin. Goddard was considering investing the money from her divorce settlement in a film venture but Chaplin intervened when he discovered the deal was fraudulent, and bought out her contract from Roach. Chaplin began planning a film with Goddard that was released in 1936 as Modern Times. In the interim, Goddard appeared in a few films for Samuel Goldwyn Productions. Along with such actresses as Betty Grable, Lucille Ball, and Ann Sothern, Goddard became a "Goldwyn Girl" and was featured in films such as Roman Scandals (1933) and Kid Millions (1934).
During this time she lived with Chaplin in his Beverly Hills home. Their marital status was a source of controversy and speculation. During most of their time together, both refused to comment on the matter.Chaplin maintained that they were married in China in 1936, but to private associates and family, he claimed they were never legally married, except in common law.
David O. Selznick and appeared with Janet Gaynor in the comedy The Young in Heart (1938) before Selznick loaned her to MGM to appear in two films. The first of these, Dramatic School (1938), costarred Luise Rainer, but the film received mediocre reviews and failed to attract an audience. Her next film, The Women (1939), was a success. With an all-female cast headed by Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, and Rosalind Russell, Goddard played the supporting role of Miriam Aarons. Pauline Kael later commented of Goddard, "she is a stand-out. She's fun."
Scarlett O'Hara. Initial screen tests convinced him and the director George Cukor that Goddard would require coaching to be effective in the role, but that she showed promise, and she was the first actress given a Technicolor screen test. Russell Birdwell, the head of Selznick's publicity department, had strong misgivings about Goddard. He warned Selznick of the "tremendous avalanche of criticism that will befall us and the picture should Paulette be given this part… I have never known a woman, intent on a career dependent upon her popularity with the masses, to hold and live such an insane and absurd attitude towards the press and her fellow man as does Paulette Goddard… Briefly, I think she is dynamite that will explode in our very faces if she is given the part." Selznick remained interested in Goddard and after he had been introduced to Vivien Leigh, he wrote to his wife that Leigh was a "dark horse" and that his choice had "narrowed down to Paulette, Jean Arthur, Joan Bennett, and Vivien Leigh" After a series of tests with Leigh that pleased both Selznick and Cukor, Selznick cancelled the further tests that had been scheduled for Goddard, and the part was given to Leigh. It has been suggested that Goddard lost the part because Selznick feared questions surrounding her marital status with Chaplin would result in scandal. However, Selznick was aware that Leigh and Laurence Olivier lived together as their respective spouses had refused to divorce them, and in addition to offering Leigh a contract, he engaged Olivier as the leading man in his next production Rebecca (1940). Chaplin's biographer Joyce Milton wrote that Selznick was worried about legal issues by signing her to a contract that might conflict with her preexisting contracts with the Chaplin studio..
Goddard signed a contract with Paramount Pictures and her next film The Cat and the Canary (1939) with Bob Hope, was a turning point in the careers of both actors. She starred with Chaplin again in his 1940 film The Great Dictator. The couple split amicably soon afterward, and Goddard allegedly obtained a divorce in Mexico in 1942, with Chaplin agreeing to a generous settlement. She was Fred Astaire's leading lady in the musical Second Chorus (1940), where she met Burgess Meredith. 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 fellow sex symbols Dorothy Lamour and Veronica Lake.
Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, for the 1943 film So Proudly We Hail!, but did not win. Her most successful film was Kitty (1945), in which she played the title role. In The Diary of a Chambermaid (1946), she starred opposite Meredith, by then her husband. Cecil B. DeMille cast her in three blockbusters: North West Mounted Police (1940), Reap the Wild Wind (1942) (where Goddard played a Scarlett O'Hara-type role), and Unconquered (1947).
Her career faded in the late 1940s. In 1947 she made An Ideal Husband in Britain for Alexander Korda films, being accompanied on a publicity trip to Brussels by Clarissa Churchill, niece of Sir Winston and future wife of Prime Minister Anthony Eden. In 1949, she formed Monterey Pictures with John Steinbeck. Her last starring roles were the English production A Stranger Came Home (known as The Unholy Four in the USA), and Charge of the Lancers in 1954. 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 feature 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. Her last performance was a small role in The Snoop Sisters (1972) for television.
Later lifeGoddard was married to actor Burgess Meredith from 1944 to 1949. She suffered a miscarriage while married to him. In 1958 she married Erich Maria Remarque, author of, among other best-sellers, All Quiet on the Western Front. They remained married until his death in 1970, and she inherited much of his money and several important properties across Europe including a wealth of contemporary art, which augmented her own long-standing collection. During this period, her talent at accumulating wealth became a byword amongst the old Hollywood élite. During the 1980s she became a fairly well known (and highly visible) socialite in New York City society, appearing, covered with jewels, at many high-profile cultural functions with several well-known men including Andy Warhol, with whom she sustained an unlikely friendship for many years until his unexpected death in 1987.
DeathGoddard was treated for breast cancer, apparently successfully, but the surgery was very invasive and the doctor removed several ribs. She later settled in Ronco sopra Ascona, Switzerland, where she died after a short illness (reportedly emphysema) several months before her 80th birthday. She is buried in Ronco cemetery, next to Remarque and her mother.
FamilyShe had no children during her four marriages but she was stepmother to Charles Chaplin, Jr. and Sydney Chaplin, sons of Charlie Chaplin.
LegacyNew York University (NYU). This was also in recognition of her friendship with the Indiana-born politician and former NYU President John Brademas. Goddard Hall, an NYU freshman residence hall on Washington Square, is named in her honor.
Efforts to raise CHF 6.2M ($7M), to buy and save the villa of Erich Maria Remarque and Paulette Goddard from most certain demolition, are well underway. The intent is to transform the Casa Monte Tabor into a museum and home to an artist-in-residence program, focused on creativity, freedom and peace.
Fictional portrayalsShe was portrayed by Diane Lane in the 1992 film Chaplin. And she was portrayed by Natalie Wilder in the 2011 play "Puma," written by Julie Gilbert, who had also written the joint biography "Opposite Attraction: The Lives Of Erich Maria Remarque and Paulette Goddard."
Title Year Role Notes
Film credits Berth Marks 1929 Train passenger Short subject
The Locked Door 1929 Girl on rum boat Uncredited
City Streets 1931 Dance extra Uncredited
The Girl Habit 1931 Lingerie salesgirl
Ladies of the Big House 1931 Inmate in midst of crowd Uncredited
The Mouthpiece 1932 Blonde at party Uncredited
Show Business 1932 Blonde train passenger Uncredited, short subject
Young Ironsides 1932 Herself, Miss Hollywood Uncredited, short subject
Pack Up Your Troubles 1932 Bridesmaid Uncredited
Girl Grief 1932 Student Uncredited, short subject
The Kid From Spain 1932 Goldwyn Girl Uncredited
Hollywood on Parade No. B-1 1933 Herself Short subject
The Bowery 1933 Blonde who announces Brodie's jump Uncredited
Hollywood on Parade No. B-5 1933 Herself Short subject
Roman Scandals 1933 Goldwyn Girl Uncredited
Kid Millions 1934 Goldwyn Girl Uncredited
Modern Times 1936 Ellen Peterson – A Gamine
The Bohemian Girl 1936 Gypsy vagabond Uncredited
The Young in Heart 1938 Leslie Saunders
Dramatic School 1938 Nana
The Women 1939 Miriam Aarons
The Cat and the Canary 1939 Joyce Norman
The Ghost Breakers 1940 Mary Carter
The Great Dictator 1940 Hannah
Screen Snapshots: Sports in Hollywood 1940 Herself Short subject
North West Mounted Police 1940 Louvette Corbeau Alternative titles: Northwest Mounted Police, The Scarlet Riders
Second Chorus 1940 Ellen Miller
Pot o' Gold 1941 Molly McCorkle Alternative titles: The Golden Hour, Jimmy Steps Out
Hold Back the Dawn 1941 Anita Dixon
Nothing But the Truth 1941 Gwen Saunders
The Lady Has Plans 1942 Sidney Royce
Reap the Wild Wind 1942 Loxi Claiborne Alternative title: Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind
The Forest Rangers 1942 Celia Huston Stuart
Star Spangled Rhythm 1942 Herself
The Crystal Ball 1943 Toni Gerard
So Proudly We Hail! 1943 Lt. Joan O'Doul Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Standing Room Only 1944 Jane Rogers/Suzanne
I Love a Soldier 1944 Evelyn Connors
Duffy's Tavern 1945 Herself
Kitty 1945 Kitty
The Diary of a Chambermaid 1946 Célestine Producer (Uncredited)
Suddenly, It's Spring 1947 Mary Morely
Variety Girl 1947 Herself
Unconquered 1947 Abigail "Abby" Martha Hale
An Ideal Husband 1947 Mrs. Laura Cheveley Alternative title: Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband
On Our Merry Way 1948 Martha Pease
Screen Snapshots: Smiles and Styles 1948 Herself Short subject
Hazard 1948 Ellen Crane
Bride of Vengeance 1949 Lucretia Borgia
Anna Lucasta 1949 Anna Lucasta
A Yank Comes Back 1949 Herself Uncredited, short subject
The Torch 1950 María Dolores Penafiel Associate producer, alternative title: Bandit General
Babes in Bagdad 1952 Kyra
Vice Squad 1953 Mona Ross Alternative title: The Girl in Room 17
Sins of Jezebel 1953 Jezebel
Paris Model 1953 Betty Barnes Alternative title: Nude at Midnight
Charge of the Lancers 1954 Tanya
A Stranger Came Home 1954 Angie Alternative title: The Unholy Four
Time of Indifference 1964 Mariagrazia Alternative titles: Les Deux Rivales, Gli Indifferenti
Title Year Role Notes
Television credits The Ed Sullivan Show 1952 Herself 2 episodes
Ford Theatre 1953 Nancy Whiting 1 episode
Sherlock Holmes 1954 Lady Beryl 1 episode
Producers' Showcase 1955 Sylvia Fowler 1 episode
The Martha Raye Show 1955 Herself 1 episode
The Errol Flynn Theatre 1957 Rachel 1 episode
On Trial 1957 Dolly 1 episode
Ford Theatre 1957 Holly March 1 episode
Adventures in Paradise 1959 Mme. Victorine Reynard 1 episode
What's My Line? 1959 Guest panelist 1 episode
The Phantom 1961 Mrs. Harris TV movie
The Snoop Sisters 1972 Norma Treet TV movie. alternative title: Female Instinct