She had more hits and got more good reviews going into the 1950s. Classic film devotees know that Colbert was originally slated to play Margo Channing in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's 1950 classic, ALL ABOUT EVE. She reportedly sprained her back and had to withdraw from the project. Bette Davis, who was in a career lull at the time, was sent the script -- and the rest is film history. Davis worked under contract to Warner Bros. for about 16 years and won two Best Actress Oscars during her time at that studio. However, when the screen legend died, all the obits on TV news programs began with a clip of Bette Davis in Fox's ALL ABOUT EVE as the Broadway diva ordering her party guests to "Fasten your seatbelts...it's going to be a bumpy night."
Mankiewicz stated that, had Claudette Colbert played Margo, folks would've assumed she was imitating Ilka Chase. Chase was also a successful Broadway actress. She originated the Sylvia Fowler role on Broadway in THE WOMEN, the role that Rosalind Russell did in the film version and made memorable with own special energy and comedy style.
Look at ALL ABOUT EVE again. Anne Baxter, as the duplicitous Eve, is out to replicate her idol, Broadway's great Margo Channing. She weasels her way into her kind idol's life and then sets out to replace her on Broadway and in the bedroom. As the wonderful Thelma Ritter as Margo's friend/housekeeper Birdie warns: ".... she's studying you, like you was a play or a book or a set of blueprints. How you walk, talk, eat, think, sleep."
With that said, look at how Anne Baxter is styled compared to how Bette Davis looks as Margo. Does Baxter look like a younger copy of Davis' Margo? Or does Baxter, in the way she's styled, resemble more a Claudette Colbert type? This is nothing against the performances, it's just a note on the look. Maybe Baxter's look was already set when the crew thought Colbert was cast --- then the injury took her out and Davis was a last-minute replacement. A true duplicate of the Bette Davis as Margo would've been more of a 1940s Lizabeth Scott or Lauren Bacall, in my opinion. What do you think?
As for Ilka Chase … both Hollywood stars worked with her. Ilka Chase played the caring, generous cousin to Bette Davis' Charlotte Vale character in NOW, VOYAGER. Ilka Chase and Claudette Colbert played sisters in the Paramount's 1943 romantic comedy NO TIME FOR LOVE co-starring Fred MacMurray.
From the Best Actress of 1934 Oscar win to a hit NBC TV mini-series in 1987 that brought her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. What a long and successful she had. Claudette Colbert died in 1996 at age 92.