Saturday, November 3, 2012

Miss Jetta Goudal

Jetta Goudal was born Juliette Henriette Goudeket on July 12, 1891 in Amsterdam, Holland. Her mother's name was Geertruida, and her father, who worked as a diamond cutter, was named Wolf Mozes. Although, when she began her movie career, she stated that her father was a man named Maurice Goudal, who worked as a lawyer. Maurice did not exist and I am not sure why she listed a fictional name as her father, especially since her real father was still alive.

In 1918, she left Europe for New York where she fashioned herself as a young, French lady who was 10 years younger than she really was. She first appeared on stage in 1921 and was picked up by a movie director pretty quick because she appeared in her first film the following year.

Since California was becoming the new place for movie production, Jetta headed out west to work more on her blossoming film career. She appeared in a few small films before she was brought to the attention of the great Cecil B. DeMille. With DeMille behind the helm she appeared in The Coming of Amos (1925) with Noah Beery, and Three Faces East (1926) with Henry B. Walthall.

The DeMille/Goudal partnership ended bitterly when he started saying how difficult Jetta was to work with. He got so fed up that he fired her and voided her contract. This obviously did not sit well with Jetta, so she filed a lawsuit against him for loss of wages. DeMille countered saying that HE was the one who lost money on Jetta's movies because of her unprofessional behavior that caused filming delays. In a shocking settlement, Jetta was actually the winner of the case mainly due to the fact that DeMille couldn't positively prove that he lost money.

Because of her famous case and the gall she had in suing the famous director, some studios in Hollywood didn't want anything to do with Jetta. She did appear in the 1928 film, The Cardboard Lover with Marion Davies, but big roles were a thing of the past. Her last film was in a talkie called Business and Pleasure (1932) with Will Rogers and Boris Karloff.

Jetta Goudal passed away on July 12, 1985 in Los Angeles.

She was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Jetta was married once, to art director Harole Grieve (he was also one of the founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). They were married in 1930 and once she was (forced) to retire, she and her husband ran an interior design company. They remained married until her death, and never had children.

Even after their bitter battle, Jetta and DeMille were on somewhat friendly terms after the end of the case. Jetta continued to fight for Actor's rights as well as unions.

Apparently her first name is pronounced "Zah-hetta." Yeah, I was pronouncing it wrong too.

"I don't like being called a silent star. I was never silent." ~~ Jetta Goudal


  1. This lady always thrilled me. She is in a book I have called, I think, Rembrances with katherine hepburn onthe front cover. The writer of the book took the pictures of the stars when he wrote the book and had pics of them when they were young and he wrote of his brief encounters with them when he interviewed them for his book. Jetta was amongst them and she facinates me. I did not know how to pronounce her name either:)


  3. Hi there! Enjoyed the bio very much. Jetta Goudal was quite the character.

    I hope I am not being too forward but I would like to clarify the pronunciation of Jetta's name. She was born Julie Henriette and given the nickname "Jetje" with the J's pronounced like the "s" is "treasure"

    Once she came to America, Jetta simplified the spelling but the first J is not pronounced "zah-he" but instead was pronounced with that soft ZH sound, as in the French pronunciation of Jacques or Jean. (This would jive with her claim of French citizenship)

    Anyway, there is tons of great info on Miss Goudal in a paper by Alan Robert Ginsberg.

    Phew! Once again, thanks for all of your lovely work in giving these silent stars the limelight once more.

    1. Thank you Fritzi!
      Oh, her name has always stumped me. When I read in my head though it always comes out "Jetta Goudal" exactly how it looks.