Hollywood History, virtually forgotten

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A long list of celebrities, VIP’s, artists, authors, intellectuals and scientists moved to the Alps in the past century to enjoy the majestic landscapes of Switzerland, in a place that would shield them from the rest of the World’s turmoil.

During WWII many who fled Nazi Germany had no other choice than to seek refuge in this neutral country wedged between Hitler and Mussolini.

Among them, was the World’s most famous anti-war novelist Erich Maria Remarque, who fled his homeland in the early 1930’s to avoid certain persecution by the Nazi regime, who was after him due to what they called “…literary Treason against the German Soldier” after penning his best-selling “All Quiet on the Western Front” – a book which, to this day, is recommended on Military Command Professional Reading Lists worldwide.

Click to view an extended video introduction about the project to save Remarque and Goddard’s home on Lago Maggiore. (12min)

Remarque found his new home in Porto Ronco on the shores of Lago Maggiore, in Switzerland’s southernmost “Three-Lakes Region” shared with Italy, until his death in 1970. He rests in peace at the Ronco sopra Ascona cemetery, alongside his famous wife Paulette, and mother-in law Alta-Mae Goddard.

English: Ernest Borgnine at the TCM Classic Fi...

“All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)” received the third-ever Academy Award for Best Film, and was re-made into a 1979 made for TV movie starring “The Waltons'” Richard Thomas and the recently deceased Ernest Borgnine who considered “All Quiet…” to be “..the greatest thing that was ever made!” (YouTube).

Film poster for Bobby Deerfield - Copyright 19...

Al Pacino‘s “Bobby Deerfield (Heaven has no Favorites)” is one of 20+ “Remarqueable” feature film productions based on Erich’s catalog of 13 novels, and is only one example of how Remarque’s influence in the American film scene went well beyond his death.

The “Most eagerly awaited screen event of our time…” “Arch of Triumph” (1948) (YouTube trailer) based on Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, was re-made in 1984 for TV, starring Anthony Hopkins (Full-length YouTube version), is one of the more recent productions featuring material by Remarque.

To this day, Remarque’s work is considered an important milepost in German-American Literary and Film History: his 1940’s novel “Spark of Life” is being developed into a feature by John Culton – and a 21st Century version of “All Quiet on the Western Front (2012)” is in pre-production, produced by Leslie Paterson and Ian Stokell, co-produced by Mary Richards (“Alice in Wonderland“) and directed by Mimi Leder (“Pay it Forward“).

During WWII, Remarque lived in Los Angeles – the Studios were hungry for his novels. He was seen all over town, flirting with the Ladies and making deals with the Studios, who to this day produce material with Remarque’s (and Paulette’s) imprint.

Turner Classic Movies and Universal Studios recognized the importance of Remarque’s “All Quiet…” and presented the motion picture at the 2012 Hollywood Classic Film Festival, in a digitally remastered version released in Blue-Ray – to celebrate Universal’s 100th Anniversary. To celebrate one of “old Hollywood”s most iconic films and to present it to a new audience, Paulette Goddard’s “The Women” was also re-released in 2012.

Remarque, considered to be “The First Playboy” and the “Last Romantic” of the 20th Century, had many illustrious lovers – Natasha Paley-Romanov, Marlene Dietrich, Hedy Lamarr, Dorothy Lamour, Greta Garbo – and more – but no woman made him happier than Hollywood Star of the 30’s and 40’s, the inimitable Paulette Goddard – known in film history for acting alongside then-husband Charlie Chaplin’s last silent movie “Modern Times” and his first “talkie” “The Great Dictator“.

Paulette starred alongside Hollywood Legends Henry Fonda, Bob Hope, Fred Astaire (YouTube) James Stewart, John Wayne, ex-husband #2 Burgess Meredith and many others, in a long list of 44 feature films including Hollywood classics like “The Women“, “Pot o’Gold” (YouTube) and “Second Chorus“.

Paulette was the original “Ghostbuster” along Bob Hope in “The Ghost Breakers (1940)” – a film made famous once again with the 1984 remake versions starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver.

Paulette’s portrayal of a World War II nurse in So Proudly We Hail earned her the Best Supporting Actress nomination by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Paulette and the House Un-American Activities Committee (wikipedia)
“When someone accused her of being a communist her reply was to threaten to fling her diamond necklace in his face.” Jean Renoir (My Life and My Films, 1974).

“Paulette Goddard was a member of a committee for the First Amendment that brought together many celebrities with left-leaning political views such as Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Kirk Douglas, Ava Gardner, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Spencer Tracy or Orson Welles. Created in 1947 by Philip Dunne, John Huston and William Wyler, this committee disputed the Commission of Un-American Activities’right to question anyone on his political affiliation. In September of 1947 Paulette bravely took part in the radio program Hollywood Fights Back to protest the Commission’s politics and defend the freedom of press alongside actors Fredric March, Edward G. Robinson and Audie Murphy.”

Paulette was also a trendsetter -in many ways- influencing fashion, jewelry design and the fine arts – from the 30’s until today. She was the lover of Clark Gable, Howard Hughes, George Gershwin, Diego Rivera – and more.

Pop icon Andy Warhol was Paulette’s best friend in the 80’s – and they were seen often together in Manhattan’s social circuit. 

She was George Cukor‘s #1 choice to become Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind” – only to lose the role to Vivien Leigh, and given a consolation prize instead, being offered a leading role in “Reap the Wild Wind” starring alongside a young John Wayne – in a film where none other than a giant mechanical octopus outdid Paulette’s acting by getting an Oscar for special effects.

(more in “Hollywood’s Golden Age“)

February 25, 1958 Wedding Ceremony in Branford, Connecticut, USA

The love story of Paulette Goddard and Erich Maria Remarque begins in the early 50’s and has endured until her passing in 1990. (Her NY Times obituary)

Paulette donated her Estate to New York University / Tisch School of the Arts, which to this day represents the ideals of Remarque and Paulette’s philantropic support benefiting Performing Arts Students. Scholarships in Paulette’s name are made available to NYU’s BFA/BA & MA students and faculty alike.

Professor Marion Nestle is one of a select group of faculty members who have been named “Paulette Goddard Professor”. The endowed professorship is also part of the Goddard Estate’s major bequest.

a) Remarque’s fortune actively supports Lady Gaga’s Alma Mater, NYU/Tisch School of the Arts
b) both share their enthusiasm for German author Rainer Maria Rilke – – Lady Gaga even dedicated a tattoo with a Rilke poem on her left arm!

Notable NYU/Tisch graduates include Academy Award winners Marc Forster, Woody Allen, Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Scorsese & Angelina Jolie – Grammy Award winner Stefani Germanotta (aka Lady Gaga), and dozens more. Tisch freshmen have the option to reside at Paulette Goddard Hall and Residential College – a student’s daily reminder of Paulette’s generosity.

Paulette and Erich’s lakeside home, Casa Monte Tabor, was part of the Estate, but a tax dispute with the Canton of Ticino caused the property to be sold at auction in the early 90’s.

The Villa changed hands twice since Remarque, and its current owner has now decided to sell the property. There is strong interest in this piece of Real Estate, as it’s one of the very few Villas on the market – set on one of the largest pieces of lakefront land available in the area. There are plans by a developer to demolish the Villa and replace it with two smaller beach homes.

We would like to prevent that from happening, and instead fulfill Paulette’s wish to make her Home available to the Arts.

The “Erich Maria Remarque and Paulette Goddard Foundation”, with support and guidance from Remarque-related entities worldwide, has closely followed the effort to save Remarques’ home from possible destruction.

Paulette Goddard on the Argentinean Magazine c...

A concept proposal (PDF) for an Artist Residence and “Epicenter of Peace” honoring Remarque and Goddard has been elaborated in cooperation with the “Remarque Gesellschaft” and the Remarque Peace Center at the University of Osnabrück.

Saving Casa Monte Tabor, one of a handful of Swiss Hollywood landmarks, means we will forever sear Paulette’s and Remarque’s legacy into Swiss and Hollywood History – which was Paulette’s original intent by donating her beloved home and her $20M fortune to the Arts upon her death in 1990.

Villa Remarque would join an already illustrious list of “Historic Homes of Switzerland”, which includes Thomas Mann, Herrmann Hesse, Rainer Rilke, Charles Chaplin to name a handful. Each of these homes operate independently but offer a tremendous opportunity to create a “Cultural Parcours” through Switzerland, while experiencing its beautiful and majestic landscape, much like these famous people did, when they lived here.

The proposal reminds some of a similar Artist Residence concept, the “Villa Aurora” in Los Angeles – the last home of another great German Writer-in-Exile and Remarque friend, Lion Feuchtwanger.

Erich Maria Remarque and Paulette Goddard deserve to be brought back into the spotlight to ensure a new generation learns of their past.

To support this key project or the other associated “Elements of success”, and to ensure the visibility of our two fascinating 20th Century luminaries, the Foundation is seeking financial and in-kind assistance from interested individuals or entities in Switzerland, Germany and the United States.

Recommended reading:

Our team of volunteers, supporters and donors who have already dedicated time and effort to this cause would like to Thank You for your time and interest.

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