Deanna Durbin, who as a plucky child movie star with a sweet soprano voice charmed American audiences during the Depression and saved Universal Pictures from bankruptcy before she vanished from public view 64 years ago, has died, a fan club announced on Tuesday. She was 91.
In a newsletter, the Deanna Durbin Society said Ms. Durbin died “a few days ago,” quoting her son, Peter H. David, who thanked her admirers for respecting her privacy. No other details were given.
Ms. Durbin had remained determinedly out of public view since 1949, when she retired to a village in France with her third husband.
From 1936 to 1942, Ms. Durbin was everyone’s intrepid kid sister or spunky daughter, a wholesome, radiant, can-do girl who in a series of wildly popular films was always fixing the problems of unhappy adults.
And as an instant Hollywood star with her very first movie, “Three Smart Girls,” she almost single-handedly fixed the problems of her fretting bosses at Universal, bringing them box-office gold.
In 1946, Ms. Durbin’s salary of $323,477 from Universal made her the second-highest-paid woman in America, just $5,000 behind Bette Davis.
Her own problems began when she outgrew the role that had brought her fame. Critics responded negatively to her attempts to be an adult on screen, as a prostitute in love with a killer in Robert Siodmak’s bleak film noir “Christmas Holiday” (1944) and as a debutante mixed up in a murder plot in “Lady on a Train” (1945.)
The child-star persona affected her personal life as well.
“When my first marriage failed, everyone said that I could never divorce. It would ruin the ‘image,’ ” she told Robert Shipman in Films and Filming magazine in 1983. “How could anybody really think that I was going to spend the rest of my life with a man I found I didn’t love, just for the sake of an ‘image’?”
The man was Vaughn Paul, an assistant director, whom she had married at 19 in 1941. The marriage lasted two years. Her second marriage, to Felix Jackson, the 43-year-old producer of several of her films, also ended in divorce, after the birth of a daughter.
The third marriage was a success: in 1950, at 28, she married Charles David, the 44-year-old French director of “Lady on a Train.” After starring in 21 feature films, she retired to a French farmhouse.
“I hated being in a goldfish bowl,” she said.
Edna Mae Durbin was born on Dec. 4, 1921, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and grew up in Southern California, where she studied singing. She was discovered by an MGM casting director searching Los Angeles singing schools for someone to portray the opera star Ernestine Schumann-Heink as a child.
Signed by the studio at 13, Ms. Durbin, who already possessed a mature coloratura soprano, soon appeared in a one-reel short, “Every Sunday,” with another recently signed 13-year-old, Judy Garland, who sang swing while Ms. Durbin sang classical music.
Her MGM career ended suddenly, however, when Schumann-Heink, who was to play herself as an adult in the movie about her life, died at 75 and the studio did not pick up Ms. Durbin’s option. Shortly afterward she moved to Universal, shepherded there by Rufus Le Maire, a former MGM executive who had switched his allegiance to the rival studio.
Ms. Durbin was quickly handed to Joe Pasternak, who produced her first 10 movies, and to Henry Koster, who directed six of them: “Three Smart Girls,” “One Hundred Men and a Girl,” “Three Smart Girls Grow Up,” “First Love,” “Spring Parade” and “It Started With Eve.”
In his autobiography, “Easy the Hard Way,” Mr. Pasternak — who would eventually move to MGM and build the careers of two other coloratura sopranos, Kathryn Grayson and Jane Powell — said that stardom was always “a matter of chemistry between the public and the player” and that no one could take credit for discovering Deanna Durbin.
“You can’t hide that kind of light under a bushel,” he wrote. “You just can’t, even if you try.”
Ms. Durbin, who was originally to have ninth billing in “Three Smart Girls,” became the movie’s star when studio executives saw the first rushes. About the same time, in 1936, she began singing on Eddie Cantor’s popular weekly radio program.
In 1938 there was a nationwide search to choose the young man who would give Ms. Durbin her first screen kiss in the movie “First Love.” (Robert Stack was the actor chosen.) She was given a special miniature 1938 Academy Award for her “significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth.”
In movie after movie Ms. Durbin’s character found a way to help the struggling grown-ups in her life: reuniting her divorced parents, persuading the conductor Leopold Stokowski to help her out-of-work musician father, cajoling a stranger into becoming her father for a day.
Many of the films were Depression fairy tales in which Ms. Durbin won over or defeated silly rich people with the help of butlers, cooks and chauffeurs, who often risked their jobs to aid her.
After moving to France in 1949 and settling outside Paris in the village of Neauphle-le-Château, Ms. Durbin devoted most of her time to keeping her home, cooking and raising her children. In addition to Peter, her son from her marriage to Mr. David, Ms. Durbin had a daughter, Jessica, from her second marriage. Mr. David died in 1999, a few months before their 50th wedding anniversary.
Mr. David once said that he and Ms. Durbin had made a deal that he would protect her “from spiders, mosquitoes and reporters.”
Ms. Durbin, who gave almost no interviews after she left Hollywood, did send reporters a letter in 1958 that read in part: “I was a typical 13-year-old American girl. The character I was forced into had little or nothing in common with myself — or with other youth of my generation, for that matter. I could never believe that my contemporaries were my fans. They may have been impressed with my ‘success.’ but my fans were the parents, many of whom could not cope with their own youngsters. They sort of adopted me as their ‘perfect’ daughter.”
In the letter, which was excerpted in some newspapers, she also wrote: “I was never happy making pictures. I’ve gained weight. I do my own shopping, bring up my two children and sing an hour every day.”
Decent woman, and I'm glad she was able to survive child stardom and live a fulfilling life.
So many, then and now, aren't able to do so.
In other news, a gnat farted.
Yet you posted about both, r4.
So did you!
What was the big Deanna Durbin/DL kerfuffle (before my time) about?
Yes, r6, because I was interested in the topic, so I posted in the thread, as opposed to disliking it, then coming in to bitch.
"In the late 1970s, in response to a career retrospective article the late film historian William Everson had written on her, Deanna recalled how difficult it was to maintain this private identity in the face of her incredible popularity:
"Thank you for all the pleasant things you wrote about me, thank you specially for your interesting point of view about my pictures and my career - It puzzles me that after so many years the character still has a mysterious appeal...I remember 'Deanna' as a byproduct of my youth which had so many facets that I had to struggle not to be engulfed by it and start leading somebody else's life. Now time has passed with the many grave and exciting events and I can look back dispassionately and understand and appreciate others' views and explanations of the Durbin phenomenon...and yours pleased me particularly."
All I know is that police better not be raiding bars where elderly people hang out tonight. The harassment mixed with grief could lead to a silver Stonewall.
Deanna Durbin...that's a thing, right?
Deanna Durbin was supposed to be the future of MGM musicals, despite her unibrow, and then a little filly named Judy Garland arrived on the lot and the rest is history.
She was a HUGE star in her time ... they'd better damn well feature her in next year's "In Memoriam" section at the Oscars.
That old drunk Judy Garland could make fun of her unibrow, but Deanna outlived that crazy junkie by over 40 years!
As Deanna was fond of saying at parties: "You never caught me singing my hit song with heroin in my veins and jizz in my mouth!"
To which someone responded: "You never had a night song."
Legend has it that Louis B. Mayer was angry when he found out that Durbin's contract was snatched from MGM, and so he vowed to make Garland a bigger star than Durbin.
Mickey Rooney, Shirley Temple, and Jane Withers (a top ten box office draw in '37 and '38) are probably the only big stars of the 30s who are still alive.
[quote]... she almost [bold]single-handedly [/bold]fixed the problems of her fretting bosses at Universal, bringing them box-office gold.
It would have to have been single-handedly.
Was Durbin the inspiration for Mario Puzo's Deanna Dunn character in 'The Godfather?'
Durbin was the grandmother of Josh David, co-founder of The High Line.
Doesn't she have a gay grandson living in NYC?
Interesting even among fans of old films, so few people know her movies. Some were not even released on VHS, including Spring Parade which was considered one of her best films. See LADY ON A TRAIN or FIRST LOVE, both of which are terrific, little-known films.
The bleak, mistitled film CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY starred her with Gene Kelly but it is an abysmal film though I read it was her biggest financial hit. Still it probably hurt her career. It was from this film she introduced the standard song "Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year".
It was at a party she gave that Francis Farmer left and ended up getting arrested, beginning her downfall.
How interesting to have outlived almost everyone you worked with who seemed so vital and important in their day. She was smart to get out with money and sanity intact.
How terribly sad. Durbin was such a far superior singer to Garland. My thoughts go out to her family.
[quote]Was Durbin the inspiration for Mario Puzo's Deanna Dunn character in 'The Godfather?'
No not at all, they just have the same first name.
[quote]It would have to have been single-handedly.
She was a cripple, not an amputee.
I like her claim that she spent an hour each day singing.
[quote]I like her claim that she spent an hour each day singing.
Why? Do you doubt she sung for an hour a day.
Oh r43, obviously the word "night" was supposed to be "hit" - but you really could not figure that out?
In any case, typically witless post should have just been ignored.
Well, no. That's why I asked. Thanks for going out of your way to be extra-twatty in your explanation, r44.
[quote]Do you doubt she sung for an hour a day.
No, I don't doubt it. I think it's great. I said that I like it! An hour of total involvement in creating music every day, is an hour that is very well-spent. I hope she was able to do this until her very last days.
Pardon me, R46. I misinterpreted your post. I thought you were saying, "her claim" sardonically.
Yes, Deanna had a beautiful voice:
Did the other "joke" mean that she gave her fretting bosses handjobs singlehandedly?
Box office gold is a euphemism?
Smart lady and uncommonly self-aware. Durbin was fortunate to have two very grounded supportive parents.
I guess she was smart, I suppose she had a pretty voice and a charming personality for the pictures.
But did she have to be so BORING?
I'd rather watch a few of Judy Garland's reaction shots than a whole raft of Miss Durbin's singing.
She sounds bitterly and obnoxiously ungrateful for the Hollywood career that was handed to her on a silver platter. Not to mention humorless. Give me Judy's neuroses and wit anyday.
You're welcome to it, R51. Neuroses galore -- but what wit?
Both talented women, though it seems that Durbin may have had a happier life. To each her own.
Deanna Durbin became a big star before Judy Garland did and Garland NEVER got over it. Deanna was prettier and classier; Judy always bore a grudge against her. She'd go on Jack Paar's show and joke about Deanna's "one eyebrow" and would sometimes cruelly imitate Deanna's rather awkward singing posture (she had broken an arm and it never healed correctly).
By the way, most of Judy's anecdotes were a load of hooey. Judy never let a little thing like accuracy get in the way of a good story.
R53 makes a good point. Years later, Judy sounded bitter and jealous, perhaps of Deanna's superior voice? I don't find anything odd about Deanna's eyebrows.
And, I disagree with R51; I don't think she sounded "obnoxiously ungrateful" about her career, she seems self-aware. Her decision to leave Hollywood was probably a wise one.
r 52: Judy had a very sharp and dry wit.
I'm a fan of both ladies, and find the whole Durbin-bashing by Judy fans and Garland-bashing by Deanna fans very tiresome.
Judy is timeless, but Durbin was very much of her time (late '30s -mid-'40s) when classical "sweet" singing formed a sizable portion of the Hollywood musical. While Garlands unique swing-pop-and-torch outlasted Durbin's tonier repertoire, Durbin (despite the decreasing quality of her films as the 1940s wore on) still had a strong fan base at the time of her retirement, so much so that MGM tried to lure her back for Magnolia in SHOW BOAT (with Garland as Julie) and only went with Kathryn Grayson (MGM's own wannabe-Deanna) after Durbin turned them down. A few years later, Mario Lanza wanted Durbin as his co-star for a number of his MGM films.
But Durbin got out of Hollywood at the right time. I can't imagine her as a film star in the 1950s.
I created a new genre called "jizz singing".
Judy, Judy, Judy!
Hey, let's cast the movie..."The Jizz Singer".
Gay son of a cantor wants to go into show business...
Deanna might have taken a cue from Alice Faye who, a few years earlier, also retired from films while she was still a box office star and hugely adored.
Both ladies hankered for a normal life and a happy marriage and family and neither seemed to have any regrets.
It was certainly harder for musical actresses to age into anything but mother roles and I think they were both uncommonly realistic in seeing the inevitable future Hollywood had in store for them.
The young Robert Stack, who was hailed for being chosen to give Deanna her first film kiss was so hot as a young man.
I wonder why he didn't have greater success in Hollywood until landing the rather dry (if enormously successful) role of Elliot Ness on Desilu's The Untouchables in the late 1950s. And Bob was apparently a last minute replacement for Van Johnson!
Why does this thread have to turn into another Garland bashing thread? Like the poor woman didn't have enough shit flung at her in life without a couple of vicious queens piling on top of her in death.
Durbin didn't want fame. She was a great actress who had her day. But a better singer than Garland? Time to call the loony bin, because you have flipped. Not to mention it's borderline sacrilidge.
Some of you just need a good shake. I swear.
OK, so I just rewatched that clip of DEanna and Judy in Every Sunday.
Can't imagine how or why LB Mayer let Deanna go to Universal unless maybe she seemd not enough of a contrast to his reigning singing diva Jeannette MacDonald?
[quote]But Durbin got out of Hollywood at the right time. I can't imagine her as a film star in the 1950s.
I could easily imagine her playing Kathryn Grayson's and Ann Blyth's roles at MGM. Had she have stayed in Hollywood, I imagine she would've remained a big star in the fifties, not the sixties though. She probably would've been better off at MGM than Universal, too.
[quote] But a better singer than Garland? Time to call the loony bin, because you have flipped. Not to mention it's borderline sacrilidge.
Durbin was a better singer than Garland.
Deanna was supposed to be Dorothy in OZ. Right? Wasn't there a mistake?
CAN'T HELP SINGING!!!!!
[quote]Durbin was a better singer than Garland.
Put down the crack pipe.
But neither of them can compete with Madonna or Janet Jackson, can't we agree on that?
I think you need to put down the crack pipe, R65, and listen to this:
Judy Garland was the ultimate star of American musical film. (Documentation available)
So sad, so sad, RIP Miss Durbin
Considering Deanna retired to a French chateau just outside of Paris at the height of her fame and wealth and raised a happy healthy family there including a 50 year marriage with two respectable kids and she didn't die until she was 91, it can be safely said she made the right decisions and can RIP.
I could go on jizz singing!
Judy, Judy, Judy!
There's no disputing that Deanna Durbin was technically a better singer than Judy Garland. I can understand how some people would prefer dear little Judy's tremulous vibrato; it's just a matter of taste. But face it; Deanna Durbin was a better singer.
You're right, R74.
But on DataLounge, no one will ever be better than Judy.
Sopranas are ten a penny!
I wanna hear Deanna take on "Black Bottom"
just too soon :(
It is sad that the stars of Old Hollywood grow thinner and thinner.
I'm still chunky.
[quote]The young Robert Stack, who was hailed for being chosen to give Deanna her first film kiss was so hot as a young man
He remained hot even into old age. This pic as taken in 2002 -- he was 83!
I hope this will spur interest in financing an 'End of the Rainbow' type broadway retrospective of the elusive star's life set to her greatest hits.
Stack adored his fans. In fact he was found dead at his desk with a pen in his hand signing an autograph.
"The rest of us will be forgotten, never Judy."
"Judy Garland was the greatest singer of the 20th Century." -Tony Bennett
THIS PERFORMANCE of "Over the Rainbow" was selected as the Number One song of the 20th Century by the Recording Industry and the National Endowment for the Arts.
It was also selected as the number one film song by the American Film Institute. Judy Garland had 3 songs in the top 25.
If these FACTS are not enough, try the clip of Garland's 1954 performance of "The Man that Got
Away" on YouTube.
No doubt Judy has contributed to popular culture, R84. But Deanna was the better vocalist.
She was very sweet.
All you hysterical Judy Garland queens can squeal about how Judy was the better singer all you want, but the fact remains that Deanna Durbin was indeed the superior singer. Judy Garland got syrupy accolades by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett in great part due to her pathetic life and early death. Deanna Durbin abandoned show business and lived to a ripe old age, so she's not going to get the kind of overblown praise that Garland got. But all you have to do is LISTEN to her sing to know that she was better than Garland, unless you're a Judy queen, of course.
could anyone sit through an album of Deanna Durbin songs? then imagine spending an hour with 'judy at carnegia hall' and hmmm, who is the better signer?
I've listened to Durbin sing. She wasn't better than Garland. Unremarkable soprano.
R88 speaks the truth, but the queens here, hear what they want to hear.
I disagree with Madam Queen at R91. Although Deanna Durbin had an excellent voice, Judy is the one who was an expert at selling a song. While Deanna had all the right notes for anyone who listened, it was Judy who made the audience feel the emotion. I appreciate both Judy and Deanna.
[quote]Although Deanna Durbin had an excellent voice, Judy is the one who was an expert at selling a song. While Deanna had all the right notes for anyone who listened, it was Judy who made the audience feel the emotion. I appreciate both Judy and Deanna.
How did Garland manage to "make the audience feel the emotion", more so than Durbin, R92?
Perhaps a link to Garland inducing emotion?
Honestly, I thought she had died years ago.
Her fan club sounds a little crazy. Judy is an showbiz icon. But I guess if Deanna had the better voice...
[quote]But I guess if Deanna had the better voice...
Make no mistake, R94, she did. Anyone who thinks Judy had the better voice, is either deaf or deluded.
[quote] Anyone who thinks Judy had the better voice, is either deaf or deluded.
Why are you harping on about this? I doubt Durbin would appreciate it.
Also, it seems bizarre to be comparing their voices, which are so completely different. Shall we compare Ella Fitzgerald to Jeanette McDonald next?
All yall need to shut the fuck up. They were both excellent female vocalists. Stop pitting them against each other. There CAN be MORE THAN ONE. RIP Ms. Durbin.
[quote]Why are you harping on about this? I doubt Durbin would appreciate it.
I was harping on? I doubt Durbin would care either way, unlike Garland, who appeared to remain bitter years later.
[quote]Also, it seems bizarre to be comparing their voices, which are so completely different. Shall we compare Ella Fitzgerald to Jeanette McDonald next?
Yes, Durbin's voice is in a completely different league than Garland's. You're right in that they can't be compared. MacDonald had a better voice than Fitzgerald, but the former was also leagues ahead for comparison.
[quote]All yall need to shut the fuck up. They were both excellent female vocalists. Stop pitting them against each other. There CAN be MORE THAN ONE. RIP Ms. Durbin.
Yes, but Durbin's voice [italic]was[/italic] better. To quote R74:
[quote]There's no disputing that Deanna Durbin was technically a better singer than Judy Garland. I can understand how some people would prefer dear little Judy's tremulous vibrato; it's just a matter of taste. But face it; Deanna Durbin was a better singer.
For those favoring Deanna as the better singer, can you please recommend a youtube performance that supports your claim?
Thanks so much.
See R67 and R68, R99. They're singing the same song, making it easier for comparison.
[quote] unlike Garland, who appeared to remain bitter years later.
Ah, so that's why you're going on about it.
Do you like any mezzo/contralto-type pop singers, by the way?
It has been said after seeing the short EVERY SUNDAY, L.B. Mayer said, "Fire the fat one" and headed off for Europe. When he got back he was furious that Deanna was gone and Judy was still at MGM, vowing to make her a bigger star than Deanna who was a big hit over at Universal....
And Frances (not Francis) was not at a party at Deanna's house in October, 1942, that was some misinformation from Farmer's autobiography that was ghostwritten by her friend Jean Ratcliffe a couple of years after Frances was dead. She had in fact been at her half sister Rita's house in Santa Monica and consumed a few beers before heading home.
The sources referenced by (R84) are not "Judy Queens." You sound like Republicans, willing to say anything to make your point. How about some backup? Sinatra and Bennett - not Judy queens. The voters of RIAA, the Endowment for the Arts and the American Film Institute - not Judy queens. The two clips cited more than speak for themselves. A distinguished author, Henry Pleasants, has written two definitive texts on singing, America's Great Popular Singers, which includes Judy Garland among a dozen or so singers that he considers great. And, a text on great classical singers, The Great Singers in which Deanna Durbin is nowhere to be found.
There is a reason that Judy queens is in common usage and Deanna queens is not.
[quote]Do you like any mezzo/contralto-type pop singers, by the way?
I like some, I don't like others, the same goes for sopranos.
R103, see R88. Judy did contribute more to popular culture than Deanna, but vocally, the latter was superior. There are many more practically unknown singers who are better than both of them.
The same goes for say... Diana Ross - a legendary figure, but vocally unspectacular. Although of course Garland was far better than [italic]her[/italic], although not Durbin.
What is “better”? It’s all about the criteria one uses. So there must be a parallel universe in which each of the many assistants of Rembrandt was a “better” painter than Picasso, once one likes a well painted vase more than a Guernica. And Engelbert Humperdinck is a superior artist, compared with Bob Dylan. But Art is no longer about meticulous craftsmanship. And while Durbin certainly had the more classically defined tool, which she very pleasantly used, I would say Garland’s rawness is more in tune with more contemporary cultural currents and therefore the more poignant one artistically.
Why hasn't there been a biography written on her? I read that someone was going to write a book on her and it fell through? That was the last time I heard about anything close to a book on her life. I love old Hollywood, when they were real stars verses so many nerds we have now.I adore old movies tremendously. I was raised on watching nothing but old movies on TV.
Deanna was beautiful,and she had a beautiful voice.
I remember reading one time that Judy Garland called Deanna and asked her how she was doing. She told Deanna that she was in the process to do a concert and some film and Deanna said to Judy, are you still in that crappy businesses?! honey, get out of it!
No that people can't enjoy Garland's singing, but Durbin's voice was technically far superior.
"You sound like Republicans, willing to say anything to make your point. How about some backup? Sinatra and Bennett - not Judy queens. The voters of RIAA, the Endowment for the Arts and the American Film Institute - not Judy queens. The two clips cited more than speak for themselves. A distinguished author, Henry Pleasants, has written two definitive texts on singing, America's Great Popular Singers, which includes Judy Garland among a dozen or so singers that he considers great. And, a text on great classical singers, The Great Singers in which Deanna Durbin is nowhere to be found.'
You sound like a hysterical Judy queen.
Sinatra and Bennett were acquantances of Garland's, so of course they'd have kind words for her after she finally overdosed. Bennett had performed with her, but I don't know if they were friends or not. Sinatra was more than a friend; he was one of her lovers. She once complained that all he wanted was blowjobs; she didn't mind blowing him but was quoted as saying "you have to fuck once in a while!" There's a picture of her with him and Dean Martin; I think it was from a performance on her show. She's leaning in to kiss Sinatra...with her mouth wide open. Yech!
Garland has gotten a lot of praise after her death; she's a sentimental favorite. That's the main reason she gets all the gush; a lot of it's due to sentimentality and pity. She was a good singer, but there were definitely BETTER singers.
And yes, those two clips more than speak for themselves. Deanna Durbin sang the song BETTER than Garland. Some people may prefer Garland's version, but on a purely technical level it's quite obvious that Durbin was the more accomplished singer.
Thank you, R109. You're a voice of reason.
Durbin may have been the better singer, but the public loved Garland because she delivered until it finally became impossible.
Few stars had a better year than Garland in 1961; her voice had returned with all its power. She toured constantly to sold out audiences, and the double album, "Judy at Carnegie Hall," was a huge best seller—charting for 73 weeks on the Billboard chart, including 13 weeks at number one, and being certified gold.
The album, which won five Grammy Awards, has never been out of print.
I can speak from first-hand experience because I saw Garland at Boston Garden that year. The other 13,000 people in the audience were there because she was a unique in-person performer, not because they felt sorry for Garland.
I liked Durbin as well, but Garland deserves much credit for continuing on, despite her problems, long after Durbin retired.
[quote]Durbin may have been the better singer, but the public loved Garland because she delivered until it finally became impossible.
Thank you, Garland's vocal prowess came nowhere near Durbin's.
[quote]I liked Durbin as well, but Garland deserves much credit for continuing on, despite her problems, long after Durbin retired.
Why? Durbin didn't owe the public anything.
Enough about Judy! This Deanna's thread....
Can you imagine if Deanna had gone against her better judgment and accepted Lerner and Lowe's invitation to come out of retirement and create their Eliza Dolittle on Broadway?
Would she have gotten the film as well? Would she have gotten any respect from Rex Harrison?
LOL R107 - I think that is mentioned in the Garland bio GET HAPPY.
When Judy mentioned to Deanna that she was still on tour, Deanna asked: "Are you still in that shit business?" Yup she called them and she saw them.
As for any biography that might have been planned - Deanna was completely uncooperative with anyone who wanted to talk about her Hollywood career, and avoided all mention of it with very few exceptions - most of them linked in this thread already.
I remember reading an article in the late 1990's on the NEW internet, that a fan had written a very loving tribute to Deanna, and had sent her the link. Some time later, she received a curt missive from DD that her biography was full of misinformation and that it must be removed from the internet and that there was to be no further communication with the star. That was ONE disappointed fan. Of course I can't find anything about it now...perhaps a more savvy computer person can do so.
Deanna said that's it and left town....and packed on the weight and was very happy...for a LONG LONG time.
There is no Durbin biography because there is no story there beyond what is in this thread.
And that's a huge compliment to Deanna.
[quote]There is no Durbin biography because there is no story there beyond what is in this thread. And that's a huge compliment to Deanna.
I will never forget Deanna Durbin: Two-a-Day at The Palace!
"Nolo contendere." - Spiro Agnew
She IS coloratura!
[quote]I remember reading an article in the late 1990's on the NEW internet, that a fan had written a very loving tribute to Deanna, and had sent her the link. Some time later, she received a curt missive from DD that her biography was full of misinformation and that it must be removed from the internet and that there was to be no further communication with the star. That was ONE disappointed fan. Of course I can't find anything about it now...perhaps a more savvy computer person can do so.
R114, I recall that as well. The fan had set up a fan page for Deanna, and it was kind of funny, when she related about the letter and how disappointed she was.
"And that's a huge compliment to Deanna."
It's fine that Durbin chose to live a conventional life that seemingly was quite happy. I'm glad for her. But, "huge compliment" strikes me as over the top. Most people live lives that are similar to Durbin's,
except Deanna had enough of show business
after a few years of fame.
r121 "most people" were not Golden Age Hollywood box office superstars facing a choice of continuing or retiring to a quiter life.
Her decision to get out (and stay out) of the limelight ultimately proved to be a wise one.
Theda Bara was a better star than Katharine Hepburn.
Marie Dressler was a better actress than Bette Davis.
Any more lunacy we can add to this thread?
Judy is an icon. Whether you think she's a great singer or not doesn't matter. Deanna might have had the better voice, but Judy is one of the greatest entertainers of the twentieth century. Everyone from Aretha Franklin to Streisand to Sinatra to Meryl Streep has said that.
And I'm not an insane Judy queen. But this thread has evolved into such blatant stupidity. It's one thing to be a fan, but entirely another to lose your mind over it.
"But this thread has evolved into such blatant stupidity. It's one thing to be a fan, but entirely to lose your mind over it."
Actually, you're the one who's entirely lost your mind over it. An you ARE a Judy queen.
I think this rivalry can be summed up like this. Judy was the star. Deanna was the artist. Judy hung on until the bitter end and died burnt out and ruined on the toilet. Deanna rejected the life of a "star" and lived with dignity and grace into a ripe old age. Judy may be swooned over by her adoring fans but the fact is that Deanna was the one who came out on top.
Do you Durbin bitches write for Slate magazine or something? (Slate is notorious for its vapid contrarianism).
There's no question that Durbin's singing was superior to Garland's on technical terms. But Garland was by a long shot the superior singer, entertainer, and artist.
People don't listen to pop singers because they want to hear The Voice Beautiful. They want to be moved, and they want to be entertained. Judy Garland was one of the most moving and compelling singers of her time. Her singing and acting are infused by her warmth, wit, and charisma -- qualities that are sadly missing in Durbin's work.
You Durbin queens -- how many of her movies have you seen? Some of them, like It Started with Eve and His Butler's Sister, are agreeable fluff, but no more. And Durbin herself is pleasant enough, but just that. Too often, on screen she comes across as bland and boring. Her voice is wonderfully rich and her singing is near-perfect on a technical level, but in the end it's also cold and colorless. As an interpreter of song, she's not playing on nearly the same level as Garland or Sinatra.
If Durbin rather than Garland had starred in The Wizard of Oz, the film might still be a classic, but I highly doubt it would be iconic. Durbin would not have brought anywhere near the vulnerability, pathos, and lyrical, wistful yearning that Judy brought to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." You would have had another film entirely.
In a straight-acting role like The Clock, Durbin would have come across as a nonentity, but Garland brings real wit to the comedic elements, and great sensitivity and a touching, tremulous romanticism to the dramatic cares. She makes you really care about her character, and you're rooting that her relationship with the Robert Walker character will make it, despite the heavy odds stacked against them. I can't imagine being all that invested in the character or the romance if Durbin had been playing the role.
The inane contrarianism of the Deanna queens has been loads of fun, and thanks for playing, but y'all really need to get a grip.
Sorry -- don't know how it got garbled, but I meant to say "a touching, tremulous romanticism to the dramatic *parts*"!
I know I shouldn't argue with these Judy queens but...
[quote]Judy is an icon. Whether you think she's a great singer or not doesn't matter. [bold]Deanna might have had the better voice[/bold], but Judy is one of the greatest entertainers of the twentieth century. Everyone from Aretha Franklin to Streisand to Sinatra to Meryl Streep has said that.
Durbin [italic]did[/italic] have the better voice.
But what does voice have to do with status.
[quote][bold]There's no question that Durbin's singing was superior to Garland's on technical terms[/bold]. But Garland was by a long shot the superior singer, entertainer, and artist.
Durbin was unquestionably the better technical singer. Feel free to prefer Garland's singing as a matter of taste, but I prefer Durbin's singing. I'm also much more moved by the link at R67, than the one at R68.
[quote]The inane contrarianism of the Deanna queens has been loads of fun, and thanks for playing, but y'all really need to get a grip.
I don't want to turn this into some "queen war", but the Judy queens are definitely more unhinged (whether or not you want to believe it). They were claiming Garland had a better voice than Durbin which just isn't true.
I recently watched some of the concert episodes from Garland 1963-1964 TV series. She did five or six solo concert near the end of the run of the show. I had forgotten how deptly she got through several of the concerts when she was not in particular good vocal shape.
The show did not receive good rating, but the time slot, nine to ten pm on Sunday night on CBS, meant that a lot of people were watching...in those days that was absolute prime time.
Only someon with yeas of experience and show business in their DNA...like Garland and Sinatra could have performed credible under those circumstances. (Ella Fitzgerald also.)
David Bruce, Deanna's co-star in "Lady on a Train" was so hot. It's a shame he didn't have many other leading roles. I think all the stars coming back from WW2 hurt his career.
This Sunday WBAI's Everything Old is New Again will have its 35th Annual Judy Garland Broadcast. What is the date of the Durbin one again?
A singing voice can be technically perfect, but if it makes you feel nothing, it may as well be a pot of potatoes.
Was Deanna also a bit overweight like her great nemesis Judy or did she just have a cherubic face?
R132 - She always had a round face but she gained weight in her 20s.
Just mention the glorious Deanna and the Garland queens get all nervous and shifty-eyed.
R135 That review is so stupid since Lady on a Train is actually one of the few Durbin movies that are still very fun to watch today.
I've always liked Durbin as a comedic actress but I could never bring myself to like her singing. Not only was her voice awful but she made really funny faces while singing.
Deanna certainly lacked Judy's voice and some stand-out movies (although films like Lady on a Train, Christmas Holliday and It Started With Eve are above-average) but at least she didn't die as some fucked-up druggie on a toilet in her mid 40's.
R137 - Deanna and Judy had different voices. Deanna's was more operatic.
Would someone shove a flagpole up R132's ass and send the Ruritanian flag up it for bumping all these dead celebrity threads and playing disingenuous troll about it?
Make it hurt.
She was gorgeous even if chubby.
I liked Deanna Durbin's final film, "I Could Go On Opera Singing"!