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Former Hollywood great Deanna Durbin passes away

Former Hollywood great Deanna Durbin passes away

ONE of biggest stars from Hollywood’s golden era, Deanna Durbin, has passed away at the age of 91.

Although her career was to be relatively short, Ms. Durbin was at one point the highest-paid star in the movie business and her films were credited with helping save one major studio from bankruptcy.

Born Edna Mae Durbin in Winnipeg, Canada, she was only 15 when she starred alongside Judy Garland in the short film Every Sunday (1936). With her mature singing voice, Miss Durbin was soon regarded as one of Hollywood’s biggest assets. However, when she auditioned for the part of Snow White in 1936, Walt Disney turned her down because he said her voice was too mature for the role.

Her next film, Three Smart Girls (1936) see below, was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 1937. Two years later, Ms. Durbin and Mickey Rooney received juvenile Academy Awards.

By 1946 her salary of more than $320,000 made her the second highest-paid women in the United States. A year later she was the highest-paid star in the country.

The worldwide success of her movies reportedly help save the Universal studio from financial ruin. But at the very height of her success Ms. Durbin announced her retirement in 1949 at the age of 27. She had made just 21 films.

For the remainder of her life, the former star shunned publicity and lived in quiet retirement in France, turning down all offers to return to the screen. She was to give only one interview during this time.

To view an excerpt from Three Smart Girls, click here.

To hear Deanna Durbin sing Always from Christmas Holiday (1944), click here.

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