Deanna Durbin, teenage movie star, dies at 91

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS -

Deanna Durbin, who has died at the age of 91, did not main­tain the kind of re­known that still at­taches it­self to her ex­act con­tem­po­rary Mickey Rooney, but in the 1930s she was one of the big­gest stars on the planet. In 1939, she and Rooney man­aged the un­usual hon­our of re­ceiv­ing spe­cial Os­cars “for their sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion in bring­ing to the screen the spirit and per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of youth and, as ju­ve­nile play­ers, set­ting a high stan­dard of abil­ity and achieve­ment”. Few con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous stars ra­di­ated such luminous fresh­ness. But, as is so of­ten the case in Hol­ly­wood, she even­tu­ally ended up in con­flict with unimag­i­na­tive stu­dio bosses who wished her to re­main in the box they had pre­pared for her. Born in Win­nipeg, she moved with her par­ents to Cal­i­for­nia when still an in­fant. By the age of eight, she was be­ing taught how to war­ble in the fash­ion­able style. MGM picked her up – then rapidly dropped her – when she was 14. Univer­sal Pic­tures, then slightly more down­mar­ket than the com­pany is to­day, saw her po­ten­tial and cast her in a stream of hits such as One Hun­dred Men and a Girl, Mad About Mu­sic and Three

Smart Girls Grow Up. In the 1940s, how­ever, she be­came dis­il­lu­sioned with the in­dus­try and, af­ter two failed mar­riages, moved to France. “I did not hate show busi­ness,” she said in a 1983 in­ter­view. “What I did find dif­fi­cult was that this ac­quired ma­tu­rity had to be hid­den un­der the child­like per­son­al­ity my films and pub­lic­ity pro­jected on me.” Her sub­se­quent mar­riage to Charles David was a long and happy one.

Pho­to­graph: AP

Golden girl: Hol­ly­wood star Deanna Durbin with her first hus­band, Vaughn Paul, in 1939.

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