HOLLYWOOD SWEETHEART DEANNA DURBIN DEAD AT 91
Musical teen queen DEANNA DURBIN who saved a studio from bankruptcy and was once the highest paid star in Hollywood has passed at 91.
Her fan club broke the sad news and no cause of death was revealed.
Born in Winnipeg, Canada Edna Mae Durbin moved with her British-born parents to Hollywood when she was just a year old.
She began to train with a singing teacher at age 10.
Deanna was initially inked to a deal by MGM and was set to costar with Judy Garland in a musical but that film never happened and Durbin moved over to Universal where she became a breakout star.
Her first starring role was in “Three Smart Girls” in 1936 at age 15 which shattered box office records and saved the floundering studio.
Appearing as a regular on the hit Eddie Cantor radio show, Deanna began recording for Decca Records.
Deanna’s next three films were all blockbusters -- “One Hundred Men and a Girl,” “That Certain Age” and “Mad About Music.”
Deanna was so popular that were Deanna Durbin dolls, Deanna Durbin dresses and Deanna Durbin novels in which a fictional Deanna solved mysteries ala sleuthing ace Nancy Drew.
In the 21 films she made for Universal (including two sequels to “Three Smart Girls”), she would sing a few tunes plus some arias from operas.
She would then record many of the same songs to be released by Decca on 78 sized singles.
As a major superstar Deanna, along with Mickey Rooney, was presented with a special Academy Juvenile Award in 1938.
She was also an international favorite – in fact, Anne Frank famously hung a picture of Durbin on the wall of the attic in which she hid from the Nazis.
Durbin ultimately won from Universal the right to approve her directors, stories and songs but her next four films were box office poison.
At the height of her fame at age 26 she walked away from show business completely despite the fact that the year prior she had the highest salary of any movie star in Hollywood.
In 1950, she married her third husband, Charles David and moved to Normandy, France.
“I did not hate show business,” Deanna said in a rare interview in 1983
“I was the highest-paid star with the poorest material —today I consider my salary as damages for having to cope with such complete lack of quality.”