Deborah Kerr Poster


Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (39) | Personal Quotes (18) | Salary (2)

Overview (5)

Born in Hillhead, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Died in Botesdale, Suffolk, England, UK  (complications from Parkinson's disease)
Birth NameDeborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer
Nickname The English Rose
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Deborah Kerr was born on 30 September 1921 in Helensburgh, Scotland, the daughter of Captain Arthur Kerr-Trimmer. She was educated at Northumberland House, Clifton, Bristol. She first performed at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park, London. She subsequently performed with the Oxford Repertory Company 1939-40. Her first appearance on the West End stage was as Ellie Dunn in "Heartbreak House" at the Cambridge Theatre in 1943. She performed in France, Belgium and Holland with ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association, or Every Night Something Awful) - The British Army entertainment service. She has appeared in many films from her first appearance in Major Barbara (1941).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Born Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer in Scotland in 1921, she was the daughter of a soldier who had been gassed in World War I. A shy, insecure child, she found an outlet for expressing her feelings in acting. Her aunt, a radio star, got her some stage work when she was a teenager, and she came to the attention of British film producer Gabriel Pascal, who cast her in his film of George Bernard Shaw's "Major Barbara" (Major Barbara (1941)) and Love on the Dole (1941). She quickly became a star of the British cinema, playing such diverse roles as the three women in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) and the nun in Black Narcissus (1947). In 1947 she "crossed the pond" and came to MGM, where she found success in films like The Hucksters (1947), Edward, My Son (1949) and Quo Vadis (1951). After a while, however, she tired of playing prim-and-proper English ladies, so she made the most of the role of the adulteress who romps on the beach with Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity (1953). The film was a success, and Kerr received her second Oscar nomination. She also achieved success on the Broadway stage in "Tea and Sympathy," reprising her role in the 1956 film version (Tea and Sympathy (1956)). That same year she played one of her best-remembered screen roles, "Mrs. Anna" in The King and I (1956). More success followed in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), An Affair to Remember (1957), Separate Tables (1958), The Sundowners (1960), The Innocents (1961) and The Night of the Iguana (1964). Then in 1968 she suddenly quit movies, appalled by the explicit sex and violence of the day. After some stage and TV work in the 1970s and 1980s and swan song performances in The Assam Garden (1985) and Hold the Dream (1986), she retired from acting altogether. Kerr holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations for Best Actress without a win (six), but that was made up for in 1994, when she was given an Honorary Oscar for her screen achievements.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tommy Peter

Spouse (2)

Peter Viertel (23 July 1960 - 16 October 2007) (her death)
Anthony C. Bartley (28 November 1945 - 10 June 1960) (divorced) (2 children)

Trade Mark (3)

Playing 'classic' English ladies
Delicately pretty looks
Refined and repressed characters who go through harrowing emotional experiences

Trivia (39)

Similar to her losing streak at the Oscars, she was finally awarded a BAFTA "Special Award" in 1991 after being nominated four times. She did, however, win the New York Film Critics Award three times and the Golden Globe Award for The King and I (1956).
Her last public appearance was in 1994 when she was awarded an honorary Oscar after six failed nominations over the years. Along with Thelma Ritter, she is one of the few actresses to have received six nominations and not have won an Oscar. On Oscar evening, Glenn Close presented a special tribute to her work, and the Oscar audience watched clips of her films to music. She then appeared from behind the screen, obviously frail, in a blue pastel trouser suit and received a standing ovation from her peers. A life-long shy person, she said, "I have never been so terrified in my life, but I feel better now because I know that I am among friends. Thank you for giving me a happy life." Following this, there was another standing ovation and she left the stage, her exit becoming her last official goodbye to Hollywood. Ironically, Close herself has since equaled Kerr and Ritter's record, receiving six nominations with--so far--no wins.
She was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1998 Queen's New Year Honours List for her services to drama.
Has two daughters from her marriage to Anthony C. Bartley: Melanie Jane Bartley (born December 27, 1947) and Francesca Anne Bartley (born December 18, 1951). Bartley was a WWII Royal Air Force squadron leader.
Her singing voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon in The King and I (1956).
Suffered from Parkinson's disease.
Joan Crawford was originally meant to play her role in From Here to Eternity (1953), but when she insisted on shooting the film with her own cameraman, the studio balked. It decided to take a chance and cast Kerr, who then was struggling against her ladylike stereotype, to play the adulterous military wife who has an affair with Burt Lancaster. The casting worked and her career thereafter enjoyed a new, sexier versatility.
Maureen O'Hara was originally meant to play her role in The King and I (1956), but Yul Brynner specifically asked for Kerr.
Mother-in-law of John Shrapnel, who married her daughter Francesca Shrapnel. She is, thus, also the grandmother of writer Joe Shrapnel and actors Lex Shrapnel and Tom Shrapnel.
Her brother Ted Trimmer was killed in a road-rage incident at the age of 78 (August 2004).
When she was a young girl, she had a strict "Victorian" grandmother who made her lie on her back, on the floor, for long periods of time, in order to "straighten her back" and ensure good posture.
She is the great-aunt of Benjamin Viertel.
In Italy, almost all of her films were dubbed by either Lydia Simoneschi or Renata Marini. She was occasionally dubbed by Dhia Cristiani, Andreina Pagnani and once by Gemma Griarotti in Quo Vadis (1951).
Was romantically involved with Burt Lancaster while filming From Here to Eternity (1953).
Originally when filming began on Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), her co-star Robert Mitchum worried that Kerr would be like the prim characters she frequently played. However, after she swore at director John Huston during one take, Mitchum, who was in the water, almost drowned laughing. The two stars went on to have an enduring friendship that lasted until Mitchum's death in 1997.
Lived in Switzerland and Spain after retiring from acting, but returned to England to be with her family when her Parkinson's disease worsened.
Her surname is pronounced "car", not "care" or "cur".
Her signature in cement for Graumans Chinese Theater in Hollywood was actually cast on the set of The King and I (1956) and not at the theater.
Patron of the National Society of Clean Air and Enviromental Protection in Britain from 1992 until her death in 2007.
Her aunt Phyllis Smale, running the Hicks-Smale Drama School in Bristol, became her first acting coach.
Born to Arthur Charles Kerr-Trimmer, a World War I veteran pilot who became a naval architect and civil engineer, and his wife Kathleen Rose Smale, she was originally trained to be a ballet dancer.
She was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in recognition of her outstanding contribution to film culture.
Deborah Kerr, her husband Peter Viertel and her biographer Eric Braun all died within the space of five weeks in the fall of 2007. All were aged 86.
Received one of the longest standing ovations of all Honorary Oscar recipients when she was awarded an Honorary Oscar for her body of work in 1994.
Daughter-in-law of Salka Viertel and Berthold Viertel.
Is one of five Scottish actors to have received an Academy Award nomination. The others in chronological order are Mary Ure, Ian Bannen, Tom Conti and Sean Connery. As of 2017 Connery is the only one to have won an Academy Award (for his performance in The Untouchables (1987)).
She wanted to play in The African Queen (1951) very badly, but MGM refused to loan her because she had just appeared in King Solomon's Mines (1950), which also had an African locale.
She has said that three of her films posed "special challenges" for her--From Here to Eternity (1953), Edward, My Son (1949) and The Innocents (1961).
Her aunt, Phyllis Smale, taught drama and elocution and was the primary influence in her life in introducing her to the theatrical arts.
When she appeared in "The Corn Is Green" in 1985, she was suffering from a case of stage fright and, consequently received some of her most disappointing reviews.
William Wyler said, "I still think of Audrey Hepburn as the princess but Deborah Kerr as the queen".
Is one of 27 actresses to have received an Academy Award nomination for their performance in a musical; hers being The King and I (1956). The others, in chronological order, are: Bessie Love (The Broadway Melody (1929)), Grace Moore (One Night of Love (1934)), Jean Hagen (Singin' in the Rain (1952)), Marjorie Rambeau (Torch Song (1953)), Dorothy Dandridge (Carmen Jones (1954)), Rita Moreno (West Side Story (1961)), Gladys Cooper (My Fair Lady (1964)), Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins (1964), The Sound of Music (1965) and Victor Victoria (1982)), Debbie Reynolds (The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)), Peggy Wood (The Sound of Music (1965)), Carol Channing (Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)), Kay Medford (Funny Girl (1968)), Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl (1968)), Liza Minnelli (Cabaret (1972)), Ronee Blakley (Nashville (1975)), Lily Tomlin (Nashville (1975)), Ann-Margret (Tommy (1975)), Lesley Ann Warren (Victor Victoria (1982)), Amy Irving (Yentl (1983)), Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge! (2001)), Queen Latifah (Chicago (2002)), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago (2002)), Renée Zellweger (Chicago (2002)), Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls (2006)), Penélope Cruz (Nine (2009)), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables (2012)), Meryl Streep (Into the Woods (2014)), and Emma Stone (La La Land (2016)).
Had three grandsons: Joe (b. 1976), Alexander (b. 1979) and Thomas Shrapnel (b. 1981), via her daughter Francesca.
Suffered a miscarriage in February 1961 while two months pregnant with her husband Peter Viertel's baby.
In addition to The King and I (1956), her vocals in An Affair to Remember (1957) were also dubbed by Marni Nixon.
Returned to work 8 months after giving birth to her daughter Francesca to begin filming Edward, My Son (1949).
Was 5 months pregnant with her daughter Francesca when she completed filming If Winter Comes (1947).
Returned to work 4 months after giving birth to her daughter Melanie to begin filming Dream Wife (1953).
Was 1 month pregnant with her daughter Melanie when she completed filming King Solomon's Mines (1950).

Personal Quotes (18)

All the most successful people these days seem to be neurotic. Perhaps we should stop being sorry for them and start being sorry for me--for being so confounded normal.
I came over here [Hollywood] to act, but it turned out all I had to do was to be high-minded, long suffering, white-gloved and decorative.
I am really rather like a beautiful Jersey cow, I have the same pathetic droop to the corners of my eyes.
[speaking in 1969] When I was under contract to MGM, with people like poor Robert Taylor and so many others, the cinema's job was solely entertainment. It filled a public need then. Now the cinema serves so many other purposes; it functions as psychiatrist, politician, message-maker, money maker and, incidentally, entertainer. But it's no good regretting that things are different. Times have to change.
When you're young, you just go banging about, but you're more sensitive as you grow older. You have higher standards of what's really good; you're fearful that you wont live up to what's expected of you.
[on John Wayne] He's a warm, kind-hearted, loving, generous, intellectual genius.
[on Alan Ladd] He was awfully good in putting across what he had, in looks and in manner; he had something very attractive--a definite film personality which he had worked very hard to perfect.
I'm almost hysterical at the thought of making people cry with joy 30-odd years after [Cary Grant] and I did our stuff. I've certainly shed tears at An Affair to Remember (1957), even though I know all the tricks of movie magic that went into it. Believe me, Cary and I knew how to kiss. When we did a love scene, we may not have been trying to swallow each other but, for those brief moments, we just loved each other.
I was mad about ballet, but I grew too tall, and when I eventually realized I'd never become the second Margot Fonteyn, I auditioned for a play instead and got the part.
[about her famous romantic beach scene with Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity (1953)] It had to have rocks in the distance, so the water could strike the boulders and shoot upward -- all very symbolic. The scene turned out to be deeply affecting on film, but, God, it was no fun to shoot. We had to time it for the waves, so that at just the right moment a big one would come up and wash over us. Most of the waves came up only to our feet, but we needed one that would come up all the way. We were like surfers, waiting for the perfect waves. Between each take, we had to do a total cleanup. When it was all over, we had four tons of grit in our mouths--and other places.
[about her work in From Here to Eternity (1953)] I don't think anyone knew I could act until I put on a bathing suit.
[on Elia Kazan] As you know, people will give their right arm, literally, and most of their blood to work with him. He's got a kind of incredible instinct with people. He's so in sympathy with all the fears and frights of actors, through having done it himself. And he's got a personal magic that gets within your very being.
I'd rather drop dead in my tracks one day than end up in a wheelchair in some nursing home watching interminable replays of The King and I (1956).
[after completing her first Hollywood film, _The Hucksters (1947)_ (qv_] I always wondered what it would be like. You come 6,000 miles and then, suddenly, you've done it. It's like having a tooth out.
[on why she keeps returning to the stage] It depend on what one wants from life. If you want to make lots of money, you keep making films. But if you want to exercise your talent, you look for the challenge of the stage where you are completely exposed, with no technicians, clever cameramen, or film editors to help you.
[on her marriage] We are in perfect balance. [Peter Viertel] is very compulsive about sports and I couldn't care less. It's his fantastic humor that I love most.
[on the lack of good roles for women and of good films in general] It's all economics now. With movies it's always been a tricky business combining art and finances, but when they spend 30 million dollars on ONE movie, the mind boggles. It's just absolutely ridiculous! Alost everyone seems to desire more real, more decent, more believable movies. That's why most people watch old movies on television. At the moment the sure-fire things are disaster, pornography, and violence; I suppose men fit into those categories better than women.
[on Robert Mitchum] I admire Mitchum very much for the simple reason that he happens to be a super actor and contrary to public opinion, he is the most amazingly sensitive and poetic man.

Salary (2)

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) £5,000
The Night of the Iguana (1964) $250,000

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