Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
100 Greatest Videos Games Of All Time
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Empire Visits The Hobbit's VFX Team
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
4Music's Size Does Matter
Introducing your new favourite app
Movie News

LATEST HEADLINES
TODAY
New Trailer for Seventh Son
Jeff Bridges gets his Gandalf on
More Movie News

Deanna Durbin Has Died
The original '30s & '40s girl next door

02 May 2013  |  Written by Ian Freer  

submit to reddit

Deanna Durbin

Deanna Durbin, one of the shining lights of Hollywood during the ‘30s and ‘40s, has died. She was 91.

Born in Winnipeg Canada — her parents were actually from Manchester — Durbin emerged as the dictionary definition of the girl next door, with a clear, light singing voice that belied her technical prowess (she had the vocal range of a soprano) and a sweet, cheerful, wholesome persona that could make apple pie look un-American.

She debuted in Every Sunday with Judy Garland in 1936, then signed a contract for Universal and began a ran of films that was generally considered to have saved the studio from bankruptcy; Three Smart Girls (1936), One Hundred Men And A Girl (1937), Mad About Music (1938), Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939), First Love (1939) and It’s A Date (1940). Her astonishing talents and joie-de-vivre — she won an Academy Award for “embodying youth” in 1939 — did much to cheer up America in the early stages of the war.

In the early stages of her career, Durbin was guided by producer Joe Pasternak. Following For The Love Of Mary (1948), she told Pasternak, "I can't run around being a Little Miss Fix-It who bursts into song – the highest-paid star with the poorest material" but her career never really thrived in adult fare; The Amazing Mrs. Holiday (1943) was partly directly by Jean Renoir until he quit; Robert Siodmak’s Christmas Holiday (1944) was a misguided foray into film noir.

Still, in 1947, she overtook Bette Davis to become the highest paid woman in America and had the world’s largest fan club membership at her height. She could count Anne Frank as one of her fans — a picture of Durbin remains on the wall of Frank’s house in Achterhuis — and Indian auteur Satyajit Ray admitted in an Oscar acceptance speech that he had once penned a fan letter to the actress. She retired in 1949 and settled in France, marrying producer Charles David, who remained her husband for over 48 years until his death in 1999.

On April 30 2013, a newsletter published by the Deanna Durbin Society reported, with the support of Durbin’s son Peter H. David, that Durbin had died “a few days ago”. No other details were given.


Have Your Say
To comment on this, and all articles, register for free or login now.

Reese Witherspoon May Be A Passenger
In the Keanu Reeves sci-fi pic
Disney Re-Scales Pete's Dragon
UPDATE: David Lowery in talks to direct his script

Your Comments

RE: survive, for now.
One of my favourite actresses. Very sad. Thanks for the great article Empire. More

Posted by theoriginalcynic at 19:43 on 02 May 2013 | Report This Post

survive, for now.
Deanna Durbin has died. Yes it is sad that she is gone, but thank goodness her films survive, for now. In fact it is because of inspiring feel good movies like Durbin’s and director Frank Capra’s that I got seriously involved with motion picture preservation. I first discovered the blue eyed, brown haired Canadian warbler back in the 1980s when AMC used to show American Movie Classics from the Universal Studios library without commercial interruption. I used to scourer the T More

Posted by larry41onebay at 17:16 on 02 May 2013 | Report This Post

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Rogues Gallery: Powers Boothe
Sin City's Roark talks us through his most memorable baddies

Richard Attenborough: In Celebration
Saluting a man who made a lasting impact on cinema and beyond…

Exclusive: Luc Besson Talks Lucy
'There is no bullshit with Scarlett Johansson'

Video: Daniel Radcliffe Talks What If...
On Gordon Ramsay, swearing and date movies

The 24 Best Film-Related Ice Bucket Challenges
The viral craze that won’t quit takes in some of Hollywood’s finest

Who Shot First? The Complete List Of Star Wars Changes
An exhaustive chronology of George Lucas' post-release tinkering

Film Studies 101: A Film Buff's Guide To Movie Movements
Everything you need to know about cinema's key groups

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)