Deanna Durbin, star of the silver screen in the 30s and 40s, passed away last week at the grand old age of 91. It seems that every time a famous actress from times past dies, people say ‘she was the last of the great stars’ or some similar line. I personally don’t think is ever true, because the world will always have stars, and as time inevitably passes by own sense of nostalgia imbues celebrities of old with a sense of mystery and glamour that we don’t afford to those we see in the press every day.
The name Deanna Durbin hasn’t remained as famous in recent years as that of other actresses, but during the 30s and 40s she was one of the biggest, and most highly paid, stars in Hollywood. Deanna made her first film when she was 15 years old, starring with Judy Garland in ‘Every Sunday’. She went on to make a name for herself as a fresh-faced ingénue in musical comedies, and was as famous for her records as she was for her films. After starring in 22 movies she retired from acting in 1949 at the age of 27, and spent the rest of her life with her third husband in Paris.
Deanna later confessed that she did not like the Hollywood studio system, and felt no connection to the persona that had been created for her. In a 1958 letter she said: “The character I was forced into had little or nothing in common with myself – or with other youth of my generation, for that matter.