It has been reported that Deanna Durbin, who first attained Hollywood stardom as a teen star in the 1930s, has died at age 91. Durbin had been pretty much a recluse since retiring from films at age 29. In 1939, Durbin and fellow teen star Mickey Rooney were presented special Academy Awards for their “significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth …” At the time of her presentation, Durbin had appeared in only four films, such was her star power.
By the end of the 1930, the Winnipeg-born Durbin had become one of the biggest box-office stars of the period. Accounts circulated that she saved Universal from bankruptcy, although that was not wholly accurate; however, it was estimated that her films' earnings accounted for 17 percent of the studio's revenue during a period late in the decade.
During World War II, Durbin was named the favorite of more than 300 different groups of servicemen. Reportedly, she was Winston Churchill's favorite movie star, and the British Prime Minister was allowed to see her films before they were released to the general public in Great Britain. Following crucial British victories, Churchill would celebrate by re-screening her 1937 film One Hundred Men and a Girl, accompanied by brandy and a cigar.
Durbin assessed her popularity, especially among older men, in matter-of-fact terms: “I represented the ideal daughter millions of fathers and mothers wished they had.”
In 1949, at the height of her worldwide fame, Durbin quit the movie business. The following year, she moved to France and left the public eye. She lived outside of Paris with her third husband, French director/film executive Charles David, who had directed her in Lady on a Train (1945).
At the time of her retirement at age 29, Durbin was the highest-paid female screen star in Hollywood and, accordingly, the highest-paid woman in the world.
Added: 1st May 2013
Posted By: Lava1964