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Deanna Durbin
Deanna Durbin

Deanna Durbin

One of America’s all-time favorite, highest-paid actresses. She’s certainly one of my favorites: she is benevolence personified and has a beautiful, operatic voice. There are a good number of video clips from her movies on the Internet that are absolutely worth watching, like the song “Perhaps” (1 min 51 sec), “The Turntable Song” (1 min 47 sec) and, in her introduction to the world — thank goodness!! — “My Heart is Singing” (3 min 39 sec). More good stuff…another day…

Image from Dr. Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans.

An Internet Movie Database short bio of Ms. Durbin says:
The girl who one day would be known as “Winnipeg’s Sweetheart” was born at Grace Hospital on December 4, 1921, as Edna Mae Durbin. In her early childhood there were no obvious signs that one day she would be a bigger box office attraction than Shirley Temple. Renamed Deanna Durbin for show business purposes, by age 14 she was the most highly paid female star in the world. Her major motion pictures were Three Smart Girls (1936), Mad About Music (1938) and That Certain Age (1938). By the time she was 18 her income was $250,000 a year. Her voice
was often described as “natural and beautiful” and her version of “One Fine Day” from Madame Butterfly, with Leopold Stokowski conducting the orchestra, became a classic. Deanna was a Hollywood star in every way. There were Deanna Durbin dolls and dresses. An engineering firm named its so-called dream home in her honor. Her first screen kiss was described in a headline story across the continent. What makes Deanna Durbin’s story different is that she was never comfortable with adulation. When she was at the top of her career as Hollywood’s leading actress and singer, she turned her back on that world for a life of seclusion. Her first two marriages had failed, and before she married her third husband, director Charles David, she set one condition: he had to promise that she could have what she yearned for – “the life of nobody”. Her seclusion is incomplete. She lives in the French village of Neauphlé-le-Château, and for over 35 years has resisted every approach from film companies. Her husband has told journalists that “Mario Lanza pleaded with her for years to make a film with him. But she will never go back to that life.” She has not been interviewed since 1949. IMDb Mini Biography By: Simona*Sara < simel@escape.ca> Copyright © 1990-2009 IMDb.com, Inc.
And a bio on Answers.com says:
Canadian actress/singer Deanna Durbin learned at a very early age that she was blessed with a strong and surprisingly mature set of vocal chords. After studying with coach Andres de Segurola, Durbin set her sights on an operatic career, but was sidetracked into films with a 1936 MGM short subject, Every Sunday. This one-reeler was designed as an audition for both Durbin and her equally youthful co-star Judy Garland; MGM decided to go with Durbin and drop Garland, but by a front-office fluke the opposite happened and it was Durbin who found herself on the outside looking in. But MGM’s loss was Universal’s gain. That studio, threatened with receivership due to severe losses, decided to gamble on her potential. Under the guiding influence of Universal executive Joseph Pasternak, Durbin was cast in a series of expensive, carefully crafted musicals, beginning in 1936 with Three Smart Girls. This and subsequent films–notably One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937) — craftily exploited Durbin’s remarkable operatic voice, but at the same time cast her as a “regular kid” who was refreshingly free of diva-like behavior. The strategy worked, and Durbin almost single-handedly saved Universal from oblivion; she was awarded a 1938 special Oscar “for bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth,” and when she received her first screen kiss (from Robert Stack) in First Love (1939), the event knocked the European crisis off the front pages. Actor. Copyright © 2009 All Media Guide, LLC. All rights reserved.

Image from Dr. Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans.

6 Comments

  1. Ms. Durbin was a wonderful actress with an equally wonderful operatic voice. Along with her excellent acting/singing skills she was a very beautiful young lady. I feel she was better in all aspects than Judy Garland, not taking anything away from Ms. Garland who is fantastic in her own right. MGM ooops badly letting her go, to the success of Universal. I recently saw her again in “It’s a Date.” Hollywood will never again reach the heights of the 1930’s through the early 1950’s with the quality of actors, actresses and even more importantly storylines. Todays filth they regularly put out, by jokes for actors/actresses just goes to show you how pitiful our country has been allowed to go.

  2. John:

    Thanks for the comment. I’d agree totally. I love Durbin. Give me Durbin over Garland any day of the week!! And I agree with your assessment of Hollywood then versus Hollywood now. I like, for example, Gary Cooper and Humphrey Bogart far more than actors of today. (Partially because of the stories and characters they played, versus what is played today.)

    –Michael

  3. Uncle Stevie

    I love Deanna Durbin. Her unassuming banter on the screen just folds me to pieces. I have all of her movies and play them often. I think she is one of the most beautiful women in the world. Her singing voice is incomperable. Ther are over 1,000 glamour photos of her and she looks great in all of them.

  4. “Uncle Stevie:”

    Agreed. And, oh, how times have changed. There are some women who could, in cultural terms, fill the place of Deanna (even if they could not match her for beauty, talent, and “poise” — but the culture we have today chooses other types of women who instantiate different values. Brittney. Hilton. Both of which are not for me.

    I love the actress Alida Valli, too.

    –Michael

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