With her film stardom behind her, Claudette Colbert returned to the stage. What was that like for her? Did she miss Hollywood, or was she content with being back on Broadway?
Colbert had always adored performing on the stage and wisely decided to return to Broadway where she knew her age would not rule out starring vehicles. The relocation to Manhattan (while her husband Dr. Joel Pressman remained in Los Angeles) suited her strong desire to participate in the chic New York social scene, and to enjoy life in the metropolis where she had grown up. In New York — out of the Hollywood media glare — she was much freer to live life on her own terms.
There have been many rumors that Claudette Colbert was a lesbian whose marriage was one for appearances’ sake. Is there anything you can tell us about that matter?
Much of that will be saved for the book. However, her marriages were rather "unique." She and her first husband, film actor/director Norman Foster, lived apart, never sharing a home together in Hollywood. Instead, Colbert chose to live with her domineering mother in Los Angeles.
From 1935 until his death in 1968, Dr. Joel Pressman was Colbert’s spouse. His main duty in their childless marriage was to be her social companion at industry/social events. By the mid-1950s, when Colbert relocated to New York City (and then to her estate in Barbados) she and Pressman lived essentially apart. Over the years, Claudette had several close women friends.
And finally, which ones of Claudette Colbert’s films and performances would you, personally, list as her best?
There are several Colbert performances I especially admire, including the 1935 comedy The Gilded Lily and the 1943 battlefront drama So Proudly We Hail!. One of my particularly favorite Colbert performances is in the World War II drama Arise, My Love, directed by Mitchell Leisen. In this patriotic yarn co-starring Ray Milland, Colbert has solid opportunities to display a range of her talents: light comedy, romance, and action.
[Right: Stephen Collins and Claudette Colbert in the 1987 TV movie The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, for which Colbert won a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination.
On his website, Stephen Collins says, "It was a rare treat and honor to work with Claudette. This was her first appearance on film in over twenty years. She was an amazing pro, a great dame, and always showed up to work -- even at 5AM -- with perfectly done make-up and her hair coiffed and camera-ready. No one ever saw her in curlers. Legendary hairdresser Sydney Guilaroff did her hair, as well as Ann-Margret’s. Sometimes, he’d even fix mine." Photo © NBC]