Oscar Actors: Goddard, Paulette

Born June 3, 1905 in Whitestone Landing, New York; died 1990.

A former fashion model, she was billed as “Peaches” when she made her stage debut as a Ziegfeld Girl in “No Fooling” (1926). While on the road in “Rio Rita,” she met and married Edgar James, a wealthy lumber industrialist. In 1931, she drove out to Reno to obtain a quickie divorce and continued to Hollywood, hoping to get into pictures.

Taking on her divorced mother's maiden name, Goddard, she got bit parts in a couple of films, was a Goldwyn Girl in “The Kid from Spain.” She then was signed by Hal Roach as a member of his stock company. In 1932 she met Charlie Chaplin, who was taken by her striking beauty and cynical wit. They married secretly at sea in 1936 (some say as early as 1933), the year of the release of their joint venture, “Modern Times.” She appeared in only one other Chaplin film, “The Great Dictator”(1940).

Meanwhile, Goddard was making it on her own as a rising star and was the leading contender for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in “Gone With the Wind,” until the job was given to Vivien Leigh.

In 1942, Miss Goddard divorced Chaplin and two years later married Burgess Meredith.

Goddard was a top star at Paramount through the mid40s, typically playing vivacious sirens, often exotic, at her best in comedy. She was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actress for her role in “So Proudly We Hail” (1943).

But her career declined sharply late in the decade and came to a screeching halt in the mid1950s. Having divorced Meredith in 1949, she married novelist Erich Maria Remarque in 1958 and until his death in 1970 lived in luxurious retirement in Europe.

In 1964, she made a oneshot comeback, in the Italian film “Time of Indifference.”

At her death of heart failure, Swiss officials reported her year of birth was 1905, not 1911 as her professional biography claimed.

Oscar Alert:

In 1943, Paulette Goddard competed for the Supporting Actress Oscar with Gladys Cooper and Anne Revere, both nominated for “The Song of Bernadette,” Katina Paxinou (who won) in “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and Lucille Watson (her co-star in “The Women”) in “Watch on the Rhine.”