Before she was famous for her quick-wit and dry humour in the 1940s screwball comedies, Claudette Colbert was the queen of determined sex goddesses in the Precode era. She was often cast in starring roles as period vamps, such as, in Sign of the Cross (1932) and Cleopatra (1934) and tough workings girls in the Smilin Lieutenant (1932).
Her acting career began a few years earlier in 1925 on Broadway appearing in See Naples and Die and Dynamo with her first film role being in For The Love of Mike (1927).
Although many people don’t credit it as a Precode film, Claudette’s greatest Precode performance was in It Happened One Night released February 1934, months before the code was to be strictly enforced. The film was not predicted to be a critical success with both Myrna Loy and Constance Bennet rejecting the role before Claudette accepted it – only with double the salary. However, the film became a hit and was the first ever to win all five major Oscars at the Academy Awards, including Best Actor, Actress and Director, Best Picture and Best Writing, Adaptation.
The end of the Precode era seems to suit Claudette commenting that she never wanted to appear in another sexy role after her saucy appearances and made a successful career as the leading lady in a series of romantic comedies into the late 1950’s. She continued perform both in films, television and on stage up until her death in 1996.
Cool Claudette Quote
As Ellen Andrews in It Happened One Night (1934):
Peter Warne (Clark Gable): Why didn’t you take off all your clothes? You could have stopped forty cars,
Ellen Andrews (Claudette Colbert): Well, ooo, I’ll remember that when we need forty cars.