Who is Deanna Durbin?
Deanna Durbin was born on the fourth of December 1921 as Edna Mae Durbin in Canada. Her parents were British. As a baby the family moved to the U.S.A. and soon afterwards her extraordinary voice drew attention. After a number of radio performances Deanna was asked in 1936 for an audition at M.G.M. The audition was done together with the also very young Judy Garland in the short film "Every Sunday", lasting 11 minutes (photo). The story goes, that when M.G.M. boss Louis B. Mayer saw the results, he must have said "drop the fat one", meaning Garland. It was understood however that he meant Deanna with the result that Deanna failed and Judy Garland for the rest of her career remained under contract at M.G.M.
The filmcompany Universal at that time was almost bankrupt and there was only money available for B-movies. One of the last acts of despair was the low budget production titled "Three Smart Girls". Producer Joe Pasternak did see the audition of Durbin and Garland and queried whether or not Durbin was available and this resulted in a contract for the 14 years old Deanna. What nobody had envisaged was that the film became an enormous success and thanks to Deanna Universal made the recovery.
Thereafter Deanna made one film after the other. But fair is fair when watching her films nowadays: they are super sweet fairytales. I regard Deanna always as a naive cinderella who burst out in singing at the most arbitrary moments. Although it may sound crazy her songs always give me a little springtime feeling
The songs of the films were recorded and sold world-wide in huges quantities. Around 1944 Deanna herself became tired of her sweet image and in that year she played the role of the treacherous nightclub singer in Christmas Holiday together with Gene Kelly who made in this film his first appearance (photo). Although it was a first-class performance the public did not go for it and the crowd stayed away. Deanna was therefore compelled to return to her old course and made until 1948 an additional 7 films. It was then that she was really fed-up, got married (for the third time) with the French film director Henry David (who died in March of 1999). They settled down in a small village near Paris in order never ever wanting anything to do with Hollywood. And there still lives the now retired Grandma
background-music on this page is "Spring will be a little late this year" from "Christmas Holiday", played by my friend Wim Bakker