She wasn’t a dramatic actress, but she could do drama. She wasn’t a comedic actress, but she could handle comedy. Her name seems to have fallen in between the cracks when one talks about the Lombards and Harlows, Stanwycks and Davises, Hepburns and Russells. She was regular. She was Paulette Goddard.
She’s come to mind because she was born today June 3rd, 1910. With her big wide smile, a voice like melted copper, a jaunty walk, vivacious personality and a very pretty ‘All-American’ face, Paulette Goddard feels the most contemporary to me of the many actresses from the classic era. She’s got a very natural delivery. She’s the one I wait for the most in “The Women” – the one true confidante Norma Shearer has in that den of cats she pals around with. Goddard was saucy sassy sexy. Maybe not in a va-va-va-voom way, but she could be glammed up. She seems approachable, a good sport with a good sense of humor. You could have a beer with her…but you’d better make it champagne.
She doesn’t seem to have an identifiably strong brand powerhouses like Stanwyck and Davis harnessed that kept them going for decades. And I’m not so sure that’s what Goddard even wanted. She’s had some hits and misses in her career, but that doesn’t matter. She’s great to watch in almost everything she does. She cracks wise with Bob Hope, poignant with Chaplin, serious with Boyer. My impression is she didn’t push for stardom. She had outside interests in books and art and people. It’s not that she didn’t need Hollywood but there was more to life for her.
I could say more, but I have a much better idea. I reached out to my classic film buddy and friend, Wendy, about Paulette Goddard. We gabbed about Goddard for a while and I convinced Wendy to write an essay about the star. She’s written a warm tribute I hope you enjoy. You can read Wendy’s essay here.
When you get a chance, check out a Paulette Goddard movie. She is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
And check out this very short clip from “The Women” – just to whet your appetite for Paulette: