Out of all the big time movie stars who’ve played the role of Cleopatra, Claudette Colbert was the queen among the queens of the Nile. In each biopic, pageantry, major jewelry, passion, dancing girls, outrageous headgear and sexy eveningwear have brought the story to life. In 1899, the French silent film Cléopâtre was the first of the genre. The famous vamp Theda Bara took on the role in 1917. In Caesar and Cleopatra, Vivienne Leigh rose to the occasion, in Technicolor in 1946. And in 1963 Liz Taylor famously transformed herself into the “siren of the Nile.”
None, however, brought the outrageous cheek and sultry, purring glamour to the part that Colbert did in 1934, starring in Cecil B. Demille‘s gaudy, glorious epic just before decency standards were imposed on Hollywood which would dampened the movie’s naughty film noir attitude. And none had the wardrobe that Colbert did.
Colbert, and Cleopatra herself, drift in and out of Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, always leaving a whiff of exotic perfume in their wake.