Canadian-born film actress and soprano singer Deanna Durbin has died at the age of 91. Her beautiful sound of the 1930's and 40's will forever be remembered. Born Edna Mae Durbin in 1921, she was taken to Hollywood by her parents at the early age of one year old. Her celebrity breakthrough began at the age of 14, when she signed with Universal Pictures taking the name Deanna and becoming the star of a string of musicals all throughout the 30's and 40's. Her charming, flexible soprano voice allowed her to sing both popular music standards and operatic arias.
At 15 years of age, Deanna starred in her first Hollywood film entitled Every Sunday in 1936 with Judy Garland. She was later awarded the Academy Juvenile Award in 1938 along with Mickey Rooney. She married an actor, Vaughn Paul, in 1941, but they were later divorced in 1943. Her second marriage, to producer Felix Jackson in 1945, produced a daughter, Jessica Louise Jackson, and ended in divorce in 1949. By 1946, her salary of $323,477 had made Deanna Durbin the second highest-paid woman in America, coming in behind the movie actress, Bette Davis. During her most successful years in musical performing and movie acting, Deanna's Hollywood fan club was ranked as the largest in the world.
She eventually grew dissatisfied with the girl-next-door type of movie roles that were assigned to her, and subsequently attempted to portray a more womanly and sophisticated style. The film noir Christmas Holiday (1944) and the whodunit Lady on a Train (1945) were, unfortunately, not as well received as her previous musical-comedies and romances had been. Just a few short years later, in 1949, after having starred in 21 movies, at the height of her worldwide fame and notoriety, Deanna made the decision to retire from the movie business. In 1950, she married the film producer-director Charles Henri David of both French and American movies who had guided her through Lady on a Train (1945). Deanna and David moved to the village of Neauphle-le-Château, outside of Paris, France, where they raised their two children: Jessica (from her second marriage to Felix Jackson) and Peter (from her union with David).
During Deanna's later years, despite constant offers, she resisted numerous opportunities to perform again, including the Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) movie studio’s offer for her to appear in the film versions of Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate (1953) and Sigmund Romberg's operetta The Student Prince (1954). In 1951, Deanna was invited to play in London's West End production of Kiss Me Kate, and was reportedly Alan Jay Lerner's first choice to portray Eliza Doolittle in the 1956 Broadway cast of My Fair Lady. Numerous requests for Durbin to sing and perform at major Las Vegas casinos would also go unfulfilled.
In 1983, film historian David Shipman was granted a rare interview by Deanna Durbin. In the interview, she steadfastly asserted her right to privacy and maintained it until the end of her life. Mrs. Durbin made it known that she never did not like the Hollywood studio system that she had been a part of. She emphasized that she never really identified herself with the public persona that the media had created around her. She spoke of the Deanna "persona" in the third person, and considered the film character Deanna Durbin to be a by-product of her youth and not her true identity.
Durbin's third husband of over 48 years, Charles David, died in Paris on March 1, 1999. On April 30, 2013, a newsletter published by the Deanna Durbin Society reported that Durbin died "a few days ago", quoting her son, Peter H. David, who thanked her admirers for respecting her privacy. No other details were provided regarding her passing.
Please take a moment, in honor of Deanna Durbin, to watch her perform in some memorable video clips from the Golden Age of Hollywood with the sweet, unforgettable voice that gave pleasure to millions worldwide.
Greetings to Everyone and A Big Welcome to Infinity Music Studio! My name is Suzanne Brittania. I have been teaching piano and voice lessons for over 40 plus years. It is my hope that you will find all the following information, along with the music videos listed within my blog, to be very interesting, helpful and inspiring all throughout your own musical journey.
The videos listed below are of famous opera stars (that I performed with extensively all throughout my earlier musical career) especially during the 1950's and 60's.
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