My enthusiasm for Claudette Colbert dates back to when I was about nine years old, watching television with my German grandparents. The film: It Happened One Night (1934). For years, little more than the memory of that night . . . and that alliterative, daydreams fuelling name.
As a teenager, ever on the lookout for the Hollywood glamour that had long faded from the screen, I was charmed (and tickled) by Colbert’s performances in Mitchell Leisen’s Midnight (1939) and Preston Sturges’s Palm Beach Story (1942).
Moving to the US from Europe, as Claudette had done in the early days of the 20th century, I researched her career for several college projects, one of them a speech that I sent to Claudette Colbert at her home in Barbados, receiving her autograph in return. The other project was an essay titled “Ladies in Loco-Motion,” an edited version of which you may read here. Working on a research paper for an undergraduate course in broadcasting, I learned about Colbert’s appearances on radio, a discovery that led me to go in search of other radio performances. Many years later, this fascination for radio plays resulted in the publication of Immaterial Culture.
I did not get to collect memorabilia until after my studies concluded. Rather than writing another essay or a book on Colbert, I chose curating as a way of sharing my interest and communicate my thoughts not only on Colbert but on collecting, nostalgia, and my apparent inability to relate to the present in any other way than roundabout.
A selection of these artefacts from my collection were featured in (Im)memorabilia, an exhibition I staged at the School of Art Museum and Galleries, Aberystwyth University, Wales, in 2014-15. Since then, the collection has grown considerably.