“There are two ways to learn anything. An interesting way and a boring way. I like the interesting way.”Depression-era star, Deanna Durbin, died a few days ago, according to her son, Peter H. David. The New York Times said he “thanked her admirers for respecting her privacy. No other details were given.” She was 91.
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 Hollywood portion of Durbin’s life ended when she wed David in 1950 when, at age 28 and having starred in 21 feature films, she retired with her growing family to a small farmhouse in France.