Born Lily Claudette Chauchoin in Paris, France, her family brought her to the United States as a small child.
She began acting in high school plays and a few years appeared on the Broadway stage in a bit part. Hooked, she decided to pursue a career in acting. She made her motion picture appearance in 1927, in a silent film on location in Paramount Studios New York facilities. However, talking films were taking over and that same year, Colbert made her first film, For the Love of Mike.
With her heart-shaped face, lively wide eyes, and aristocratic manner, Colbert transcended type, making her equally convincing in diverse roles. Her versatility led to major parts in the top motion picture and one of the biggest box-office stars of her time.
In 1934 she won an Academy Award for Best Actress for It Happened One Night. Her costar, Clark Gable, also won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Ms. Colbert's last film was Parrish in 1961.
From 1936 to 1944, she starred in numerous programs of Cecil B. DeMille's Lux Radio Theater, which was one of the most popular dramatic radio shows at the time. In 1952, she returned to work in her native France where she stayed until 1955.
After making two more Hollywood films, she went back to Broadway in 1958 doing "The Marriage Go-Round" with Charles Boyer, earning a 1959 Tony Award nomination for her work. She acted in numerous Broadway plays for the next twenty years. In 1987, she did a television mini-series titled The Two Mrs. Grenvilles and was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Mini-series or a Special. In 1988, she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for TV.
During her long and successful career, Claudette Colbert played in sixty-five films.
Colbert passed away at her vacation home in Speightstown, Barbados and was interred there in the Parish of St. Peter Cemetery. A requiem mass was held at St. Vincent Ferrer church in New York later.
Selected Claudette Colbert films: