Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Deanna Durbin, 1921-2013

The death has been announced of actress Deanna Durbin, several days ago at the age of 91. Durbin was living in France, where spent the last 60+ years of her life after marrying a French-born director and retiring from making movies. Durbin started her career as a juvenile actress at MGM who had been operatically trained, and at MGM even performed in a short with Judy Garland called Every Sunday. (As far as I could find, Every Sunday is only on Youtube as a fragment, and not in full.) MGM decided to groom Garland for success, presumably because her voice would be more accessible to a public that liked popular music and not opera, so it was off to Universal for Durbin, where she got to put her voice to good use in the film One Hundred Men and a Girl. Durbin was to remain at Universal for the rest of her career. Being a Universal star is unfortunate, though. She was quite popular back in the day, but Universal is pretty lousy with their back catalog, as can be seen (or not seen, I suppose) by the terrible lack of Universal movies that show up on TCM. That, combined with having left Hollywood at a relatively young age, have conspired to consign Durbin almost to the dustbin of Hollywood history, which I don't think she deserves at all.

I was impressed to see that TCM already has a TCM Remembers piece on Durbin. (It doesn't seem to be available in the TCM Media Room; nor has it been posted to Youtube.) I don't think there's been any announcement of a schedule change to honor her, and I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't any programming salute to her due to TCM's not being able to get the rights to enough of Durbin's movies.

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