Claudette Colbert was born Emilie Claudette Chauchoin on September 16, 1903 in Saint-Mande, France.
The daughter of Georges Claude, a banker, and Jeanee Loew Chauchoin, a pastry cook, her family moved to the United States when she was three years old. She was raised in New York City.
Claudette Colbert began her career on Broadway. She took the name of Claudette Colbert for her broadway debut in "The Wild Westcotts" (1923).
From 1925 to 1929, she played mainly ingenue roles on Broadway. She f ought against being typecast and received critical acclaim in the Broadway production of The Barker (1927) where she played a carnival snake charmer.
She began studying at the Art Students League, however, the Great Depression shut down most of the theaters. Claudette decided to make a go of it in films.
Her first film was For the Love of Mike (1927) directed by Frank Capra, which was a box office disaster.
Claudette Colbert's next film was The Lady Lies (1929) which was a success. Later that year she had another hit with The Hole in the Wall (1929).
In 1930, she starred opposite Fredric March in Manslaughter (1930). She would make five more movies with Fredric March: Honor Among Lovers (1931), Make Me A Star (1932), The Sign of the Cross (1932), Tonight is Ours (1933), and Land of Liberty (1929).
In 1935 she would be paired with her number on leading man, Fred MacMurray in The Gilded Lily (1935). They would go on to make six more movies together: The Bride Comes Home (1935), Maid of Salem (1937), No Time For Love (1943), Pracitally Yours (1944), The Egg and I (1947), and Family Honeymoon (1949).
However, it was the 1934 Frank Capra film, It Happened One Night that ensured she would be forever immortalized. Paired with Clark Gable, the mad cap comedy swept the Academy Awards with Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Picture, and Best Director wins for herself, Frank Capra and Clark Gable.
Her other notable films include The Phantom President (1932) with Jimmy Durante, Cleopatra (1934), Inimitation of Life (1934), Private Worlds (1935) with Charles Boyer, Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) with Henry Fonda, It's a Wonderful World (1939) with James Stewart, The Palm Beach Story (1942) with Joel McCrea, and Since You Went Away (1944) with Joseph Cotton.
She received three Academy Award nominations for Best Actress during her career. The first being for It Happened One Night (1934) for which she won her only Academy Award. She was also nominated for Since You Went Away (1944) and Private Worlds (1935).
During the 1950s, Claudette Colbert turned to televsion roles. Appearing in such classics as General Electric Theater and Robert Montgomery Presents.
Claudette Colbert's final silver screen performance was in 1961 in the movie Parrish starring Troy Donahue and Karl Malden.
During her retirement, Claudette Colbert divided her time between her apartment in Manhattan and her summer home in Barbados. After suffering a series of strokes, she passed away on July 30, 1996 at the age of 92.
She would retire from acting until 1978 when she would make one last performance in television's The Two Mrs. Grenvilles. This role earned her an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Special and won her the Golden Globe award for this performance.
In 1928, she married actor Norman Foster, although they never lived together and they divorced after seven years. She next married surgeon Dr. Joel Pressman and they remained married until his death in 1968.