She had Donna Reed looks, Shirley Temple star power, and a vocal talent all her own. Deanna Durbin captivated Depression-era audiences and was once Hollywood's top-paid performer.
She was born Edna Mae Durbin in Winnipeg, Ontario. Her mature, operatic voice quickly caught the attention of MGM. But a bureaucratic mix-up denied Durbin a role in what would have been her first movie, "Every Sunday" (1936). Judy Garland got the part instead.
Durbin's big success came at Universal, where she starred in such musicals as: "Three Smart Girls" (1936), "100 Men and a Girl" (1937), and "First Love" (1939). She was nicknamed "the mortgage lifter" for helping to save Universal. She retired from acting in 1948.
Her third marriage, to director Charles Henri David, lasted 49 years until his death last year. Seeking privacy, the couple had moved to France years ago. Following her husband's death, she asked fans in the Deanna Durbin Society to discontinue their correspondence.
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