Deanna Durbin

Deanna Durbin

Highest Rated: 100% Summer Stock (1950)

Lowest Rated: 71% Lady on a Train (1945)

Birthday: Dec 4, 1921

Birthplace: Not Available

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. Durbin remained popular throughout the first years of the 1940s, but when the box-office receipts began to flag, Universal attempted to alter Durbin's screen image with such heavy dramas as The Amazing Mrs. Holliday (1942) and Christmas Holiday (1944); unfortunately, these films failed to make the turnstiles click. In 1945, Durbin had her best "grown up" role in the murder mystery Lady on a Train (1945), which allowed her to dress a bit more glamorously than in previous appearances. By this time, however, Durbin was tired of filmmaking, and began exhibiting a conspicuous lack of interest in performing. After For the Love of Mary (1948), Durbin retired, escaping to France with her third husband, Lady on a Train director Charles David. She so thoroughly disappeared from public view that rumors persisted she had died. Actually, as one writer has pointed out, the "Deanna Durbin" that fans had known and loved had died, to be replaced by a fabulously wealthy matron who had absolutely no interest in the past. Though she lived in comfortable anonymity for her last five decades, Durbin retained her fervent fan following and gained a whole new following thanks to exposure of the vintage Durbin films on cable TV and video. She died in 2013 at the age of 91.

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Hollywood's Children Actor 1982
100% Summer Stock Actor 1950
No Score Yet For the Love of Mary Mary Peppertree 1948
No Score Yet Up in Central Park Rosie Moore 1948
No Score Yet Something in the Wind Mary Collins 1947
No Score Yet I'll Be Yours Louise Ginglebusher 1947
No Score Yet Because of Him Kim Walker 1946
71% Lady on a Train Nikki Collins / Margo Martin 1945
No Score Yet Can't Help Singing Caroline Fist 1944
75% Christmas Holiday Jackie Lamont / Abigail Martin 1944
No Score Yet His Butler's Sister Ann Carter 1943
No Score Yet Hers to Hold Penelope Craig 1943
No Score Yet The Amazing Mrs. Holliday Ruth Kirke Holliday 1943
No Score Yet It Started with Eve Anne Terry 1941
No Score Yet Nice Girl? Jane Dana 1941
No Score Yet Spring Parade Ilonka Tolnay 1940
No Score Yet It's a Date Pamela Drake 1940
No Score Yet First Love Constance Harding 1939
No Score Yet Three Smart Girls Grow Up Penny Craig 1939
No Score Yet That Certain Age Alice Fullerton 1938
No Score Yet Mad About Music Gloria Harkinson 1938
88% 100 Men and a Girl Patricia "Patsy" Cardwell 1937
86% Three Smart Girls "Penny" Craig 1936
No Score Yet Every Sunday Actor 1936


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