Singer-actress Deanna Durbin, who was the highest-paid female star in Hollywood in 1947 but permanently exited the movie biz the next year at the age of 26, has died, her fan club announced Tuesday. The announcement did not give a date or cause of death. She was 91.
Durbin initially landed at MGM after a successful audition for a part in a planned biopic of opera singer Ernestine Schumann-Heink. She actually made her film debut in the 1936 MGM short “Every Sunday,” with Judy Garland (the two were only six months apart in age), and the opera film was never made. Soon thereafter Universal signed Durbin to a contract.
Her first film at U was “Three Smart Girls” (remade decades later as “The Parent Trap”). That big box office hit, in which she played the perfect teenage daughter, paved the way for many more of the same, and Durbin was credited with saving the studio from bankruptcy. »
- Carmel Dagan
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