Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I WAS A TYPICAL THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD AMERICAN GIRL:  Five years ago, I suggested that there was no newspaper obit more stale than that of Deanna Durbin's, the contemporary of Judy Garland who once the highest-paid female star in the world and then, in her mid-twenties, decided she had had enough of Hollywood, enough of fame, and moved to a farmhouse in France for the rest of her life. (How famous? Anne Frank had a Durbin picture on her wall.)  That was 1949, and she never changed her mind.

Ms. Durbin passed away a few days ago; her films live on. Here's her "Nessum Dorma," or if you want to see where it started, an excerpt from 1936's "Every Sunday," in which she co-starred with Garland. To learn more, start where I did: Jeanine Basinger's fantastic book, The Star Machine, which describes the ways in which Hollywood turned Edna Mae Durbin into "Deanna," and you may understand why there became more important things for Durbin than being famous.

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