Paulette Goddard was an American film actress who began her career as a child model and rose to become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses. This determined young lady began modeling at the tender age of ten to help support her mother financially and later moved on to acting and singing, carving out a name for herself in the entertainment world. Her great-uncle, Charles Goddard, introduced her to Broadway. She traveled to Hollywood to try her luck in movies since she was determined to make a name for herself. After a few uncredited roles in films, she was cast as the leading lady in Charlie Chaplin’s final silent picture, ‘Modern Times,’ which forever transformed her life. She gradually rose to fame and acted in a number of great films during the 1940s, including ‘The Great Dictator,’ ‘So Proudly We Hail!,’ ‘Kitty,’ ‘The Diary of a Chambermaid,’ ‘Unconquered,’ and ‘Reap the Wild Wind.’ Not only for her critically acclaimed parts but also for her four marriages and lavish lifestyle, this vibrant actress became a well-known personality.
Childhood and Adolescence
Paulette Goddard was born on June 3, 1910, as Pauline Marion Levy, the only child of Jewish cigar merchant Joseph Russell Levy and English Episcopalian Alta Mae Levy in Whitestone Landing, Queens, New York.
In 1926, her parents split and later divorced, and she was raised by her mother. To get away from her father’s custody, they had to go from New York to Canada and then to Kansas.
She dropped out of school early to help her mother, attending Mount Saint Dominic Academy in Caldwell, New Jersey, then Ursuline Academy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a short time.
She began modeling at the age of ten with Saks Fifth Avenue and afterward moved on to Hattie Carnegie, a fashion designer.
The Career of Caroline
In 1926, she made her Broadway debut as a Ziegfeld dancer in the summer revue ‘No Foolin,’ and in 1927, she appeared in another revue, ‘Rio Rita.’ She also appeared in Archie Selwyn’s ‘The Unconquerable Male’ in a minor capacity.
She traveled to Hollywood in 1929 and appeared as an extra in films such as “Berth Marks,” “The Locked Door,” “The Girl Habit,” and “The Mouthpiece” (1932).
She made her film debut in 1932 as a Goldwyn Girl in Samuel Goldwyn’s ‘The Kid from Spain,’ and thereafter worked with Hal Roach on a number of uncredited supporting roles over the next few years.
Charlie Chaplin bought her contract with Roach and cast her as the vivacious ‘Gamine’ in his 1936 silent picture ‘Modern Days,’ which proved to be a turning point in her career.
After the success of ‘Modern Days,’ Chaplin wanted to work with her, but she was afraid that Chaplin’s slow pace of work would jeopardize her career, so she signed a contract with David O. Selznick and did ‘The Young in Heart’ (1938) and appeared in two MGM films – ‘Dramatic School’ (1938) and ‘The Women’ (1939). (1939).
She worked with Bob Hope in three comedy films: ‘The Cat and the Canary’ (1939), ‘The Ghost Breakers’ (1940), and ‘Nothing but the Truth’ (1941), earning her a ten-year deal with Paramount Studios.
She met Chaplin in his debut talkie, ‘The Great Dictator,’ in 1940. In the same year, she co-starred in the film ‘Second Chorus’ with Fred Astaire.
During the 1940s, her career took off, with roles in films including ‘Pot o’ Gold’ (1941), ‘The Lady has Plans’ (1942), ‘So Proudly We Hail!’ (1943), ‘The Diary of a Chambermaid’ (1946), and ‘Unconquered’ (1947).
She appeared in B-grade films such as ‘Hazard’ (1948), ‘Bride of Vengeance’ (1949), ‘Anna Lucasta’ (1950), ‘Paris Model’ (1953), ‘Charge of the Lancers’ (1954), and ‘A Stranger Came Home’ (1954), but the majority of them were bad.
She co-founded Monterey Pictures with John Steinbeck and starred in B-movies like ‘The Torch’ (1950), ‘Babes in Baghdad’ (1952), and ‘Vice Squad’ (1953). (1953).
During the mid-1950s, she appeared on television in shows such as ‘The Ford Television Theatre,’ ‘Climax!,’ ‘Producers Showcase,’ and a television remake of ‘The Women.’ ‘Waltz of the Toreadors’ and ‘Laura’ were two of her summer stock productions.
She returned to the silver screen in 1964, playing a supporting role in the Italian film ‘Time of Indifference,’ which was also her final film, though she did appear in a brief role in the made-for-TV film ‘The Snoop Sisters’ in 1972.
His Major Projects
Her performance in the 1943 variety musical ‘Star-Spangled Rhythm,’ where she sang the comedic tune ‘A Sweater, a Sarong, and a Peekaboo Bang,’ is considered one of her greatest.
Aside from ‘Kitty’ (1945), her most successful picture, she also appeared in ‘North West Mounted Police’ (1940), ‘Reap the Wild Wind’ (1942), and ‘Unconquered’ (1947).
Achievements & Awards
In 1943, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film ‘So Proudly We Hail!’
Personal History and Legacy
Her uncle Charles Goddard introduced her to rich playboy Edgar William James, president of the Southern Lumber Company, whom she married in June 1927 and moved to Asheville, North Carolina.
The marriage didn’t last long, and the couple divorced in 1929, with Goddard getting a $375,000 alimony settlement.
In 1932, she met Charlie Chaplin and the two hit it off right away. Their romance became a major issue in Hollywood gossip columns and the media.
In 1936, the pair, together with Goddard’s mother, embarked on a five-month voyage to Asia, during which they secretly married in China. As a result, she married Chaplin for the third time and became the stepmother to Charles Chaplin Jr. and Sydney Chaplin.
Due to Chaplin’s frequent work commitments, the marriage fell apart. Goddard obtained a Mexican divorce and a $1 million settlement after the two divorced in 1942.
While writing on ‘Second Chorus,’ she met Burgess Meredith, whom she married in 1944. In the same year, she experienced an ectopic pregnancy, which resulted in a miscarriage. In 1949, the couple divorced.
She married Erich Maria Remarque, the famous German novelist who wrote ‘All Quiet on the Western Front,’ in 1958 and settled in Ronco Sopra Ascona, Switzerland. Remarque’s marriage lasted until his death in 1970.
Following Remarque’s death, she acquired his riches and property in Europe, including a sizable collection of contemporary art, and spent the rest of her life in her opulent Swiss residence.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in the mid-1970s and underwent successful surgery to treat it. She developed emphysema as a result of her heavy smoking and died of heart failure on April 23, 1990, at the age of 79.
She was buried with her husband Remarque and mother in the Ronco Village Cemetery.
She left a bequest to New York University (NYU) in the amount of $20 million, in addition to offering $3 million in scholarships to 300 cinema and theatre students at Tisch School of the Arts.
Goddard Hall, an NYU freshman residential hall in New York City’s Washington Square, is named after her.
Estimated Net worth
Paulette is one of the wealthiest movie actresses and one of the most well-known. Paulette Goddard’s net worth is estimated to be $5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
Charles Goddard, the owner of the American Druggists Syndicate, was instrumental in advancing her career and introducing her to theater producer Florenz Ziegfeld. She eventually took his surname, Goddard, as her own.