Paulette Goddard, 84, Dies; ‘40s Star, Chaplin’s Ex-Wife

From Reuters

Paulette Goddard, the vivacious, madcap Hollywood star of the 1930s and ‘40s who married Charles Chaplin and co-starred in his film “Modern Times,” died today near this southern Switzerland city at age 84.

Local authorities in the village of Porto Ronco, where she had lived since 1969, said she died at home of natural causes.

The slim, dark Goddard was married four times--to wealthy Englishman Edgar James, Chaplin, actor Burgess Meredith and author Erich Maria Remarque--and was said to have kept her engagement rings on a necklace.


She spent much of her later years writing, skiing and walking in Switzerland after coming out of retirement briefly in 1972 to appear in a television film “The Snoop Sisters” with Helen Hayes.

Her 30 films included “The Women,” “The Cat and the Canary,” “Ghost Breakers,” “Reap the Wild Wind,” “The Diary of a Chambermaid” and “Kitty.” She turned to the stage for brief periods, appearing in “Waltz of the Toreadors” and George Bernard Shaw’s “Caesar and Cleopatra.”

Born Marian Levee in Whitestone, Long Island, New York, she left school at 14 and became a model before being spotted by producer Florenz Ziegfeld.

After starring with Chaplin in “Modern Times” in 1936, she came close to winning Hollywood’s most prized female role, that of Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind.” When the role went to Vivien Leigh, she said she cried her eyes out.

“But now it is like a game,” she said many years later. “The past bores me. I don’t remember many movies, and certainly not my own.”

After her marriage to James ended in divorce, she married Chaplin. Their marriage was kept secret for several years. They were divorced, and she married Meredith. This marriage also ended in a divorce.


She met Remarque, author of the novel “All’s Quiet on the Western Front” and said to have been the great love of her life, in a New York flower shop, and he sent her flowers. They ran into each other again in New York four years later and were married in 1958.

They lived in Switzerland in Remarque’s villa on the shore of Lake Maggiore, and, when he died in 1971, she buried him on a hilltop overlooking their house.

She returned to New York to negotiate the sale of his last manuscript, which she entitled “Shadows in Paradise.”

Writer and painter Andy Warhol taped her memories for 80 hours for what was to have been her biography. But she returned her advance payment to the publishers. “I didn’t tell Warhol anything,” she said.