In Memoriam – Deanna Durbin

Vale Deanna Durbin

December 4, 1921 –  April 20, 2013
December 4, 1921 – April 20, 2013

Deanna Durbin, the former child actress who was born Edna Mae Durbin in Winnipeg, Canada on December 4, 1921, has passed away at age 91, according to her son, Peter H. David, who said she died “a few days ago.”

She began performing in 1936 in the movie, “EVERY SUNDAY,” with Judy Garland and was seriously considered for the role of Dorothy Gale in “THE WIZARD OF OZ,” which eventually went to Ms. Garland.

Also in 1936, she auditioned for the voice of “SNOW WHITE” in that 1940 movie, but Walt Disney, hearing her voice, rejected her because he felt that she was too “grown-up sounding” for the role, even though she was 15 at the time.

She’s the actress who was credited by Universal Studios for saving them from bankruptcy during the late 1930s, with her movies accounting for 17% of the studio’s income. And before her career abruptly ended at age 27, she was at one time the highest-paid actress in the United States, just ahead of Bette Davis.

It was claimed that Sir Winston Churchill watched all of her movies before they were released to the general public in the United Kingdom and her photograph was placed on a wall of that Amsterdam attic where her fan, Anne Frank, hid from the Nazis.

When she left the industry, she became a recluse in France, shunning publicity and only granting one interview in 1983. In 1958 a letter she sent to the Press mentioned that she was “never happy making pictures. The characters I was forced into had little or nothing in common with myself – or with other youth of my generation, for that matter.”

Along with Mickey Rooney, she received a Juvenile Oscar® award in 1939 for her “significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth.”

Our condolences to all who knew and loved her.

Contributed by Fred T. Beeman

Deanna_Durbin-1940Deanna Durbin (born Edna Mae Durbin; December 4, 1921 – April 20, 2013) was a Canadian actress and singer, who appeared in musical films in the 1930s and 1940s, her singing voice being variously described as being light but full, sweet and unaffected. With the technical skill and vocal range of a legitimate lyric soprano, she performed everything from popular standards to operatic arias.