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Claudette Colbert on Broadway and TV: How Her Star Power Went Beyond the Big Screen

By    |   Wednesday, 13 May 2015 07:55 PM

Claudette Colbert was a leading lady through and through, with over 60 films to her name. But before films and TV she got her start on Broadway, and continued to love the stage until 1985, 82 years after her birth. Colbert’s most notable role was as Content Lowell in “The Marriage-Go-Round” in 1958.

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Her first Broadway appearance occurred in 1923 in “The Wild Wescotts,” culminating in her final Broadway play “Aren’t We All?” in 1985. In between, Colbert took a nearly thirty year hiatus from the state between 1929 and 1956 during the decades when her big screen star was brightest thanks to her Oscar win in 1934’s “It Happened One Night” feature film.

Here are examples of when Claudette Colbert’s star power went beyond the big screen and shined on Broadway and TV.

Broadway

“The Marriage-Go-Round” was undoubtedly Colbert’s most famous Broadway appearance, earning her a Tony nomination as the sexy comedy’s leading lady. She plays a Dean of Women for a college where her husband is a professor. A temptress tries to come between them, but in the end, the marriage stands strong. The play would go on to enjoy 700 performances, but unfortunately the Broadway hit didn't resonate with film audiences and flopped.

At the tender age of 20, Colbert took to the stage in "The Wild Wescotts" in a small role while she was still studying fashion at Art Students League of New York. Yet, this role paved the way for her film debut in 1927, “For the Love of Mike,” according to Biography.com.

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Starting in 1923, Colbert was in at least one Broadway play every year for the next six years, all thanks to her friend Helen Hackett, who introduced her to playwright Anne Morrison of “The Wild Westcotts” according to Cliff Aliperti of Immortal Ephermera. Broadway producer Al Woods helped take her career to the next level when he signed her on for a five-year contract, which then let to one of her biggest Broadway hits, “The Barker.”

Aliperti said the play “provided Claudette Colbert’s breakout role ... and which caused columnist I.I. McIntyre to nominate [her] as ‘most finished actress appearing on the New York state this season.”

TV

Colbert did only two full-length made-for-TV movies, “The Bells of St. Mary’s” in 1959 and “The Two Mrs. Grenvilles” in 1987. She also performed in episodes of many other shows like “General Electric Theater,” “Zane Grey Theater,” and “The Best of Broadway.”

Silver screen roles were her obvious preference, but her role as one of the Mrs. Grenvilles in 1987 was a shining glory that would become her last starring role in front of a camera. "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" featured the still-vibrant and lovely 84-year-old actress going toe-to-toe with actress Ann-Margret, who was 37 years her junior.

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Claudette Colbert was a leading lady through and through, with over 60 films to her name. But before films and TV she got her start on Broadway, and continued to love the stage until 1985, 82 years after her birth.
claudette colbert, tv, broadway, actress, movies
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2015-55-13
Wednesday, 13 May 2015 07:55 PM
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