The lovely Deanna Durbin was awarded a special academy award in 1938 for “bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth” and that same year she was officially recognised as the biggest teen star in the world.
Unlike today’s troubled young stars who seem to equate column inches with success, Durbin, also blessed with an operatic singing voice, was universally loved by fans and critics alike. In fact the only person who disliked Deanna Durbin’s Hollywood career was Durbin herself. By 1949 and aged just 27 she had quit Hollywood and settled in Paris with new husband Charles David.
Born Edna Mae Durbin in 1922 in Winnipeg, Canada, the 14 year old Durbin made her debut alongside Judy Garland in 1936 MGM short Every Sunday and was quickly snapped up for the feature Three Smart Girls (1937), she wasn’t the star but the rushes made it plain she should be. The story concerned a teenager trying to reunite her about to divorce parent. The problem was that she was so successful in the role that she ended up typecast and despite her huge popularity she was always unhappy with the movies she made.
Keen to show her dramatic range Durbin starred in the drama Christmas Holiday in 1944 but Universal, whom she was under contract to was not keen to let her change her style. By 1949 though her star was on the wane and she used the opportunity of being let go by Universal to retire gracefully.
Seen today her films still carry a huge amount of charm with them.