Cher Public

Deanna Durbin 1921-2013

The silver-voiced teen star of film musicals of the 1930s and 1940s died earlier this week, according to her son, Peter H. David. She was 91. [New York Times]  

  • la vociaccia

    No!!!! How sad :(
    Deanna came from a time where being the “pop” opera singer meant you were one of the better ones (e.g Traubel,Farrell, Tauber, Schmidt etc.) Now it means you’re Katherine Jenkins.

    When she takes the “Non ti scordar” part….ahhhhh

    • Camille

      Oh, I just saw this for the first time ever a few days ago and liked it so much. In an otherwise so-so movie, it was a highpoint and so unexpected after the movie had gone on at some length. I can see why see complained about the materials she was being handed.

      Thanks for posting it as I was going to do so.

      • papopera

        infernal trash. ah!

  • WindyCityOperaman

    RIP. An angelic gets her wings . . .

  • Camille

    Oh NO, NO, NO!!!!!!!!
    I have just watched her “Three Smart Girls” last week, for he first time!! She was so wonderful in it, so funny and natural, too.

    An exquisite voice—like a stream of silver.

    May she rest in peace. This is our favourite scene with her:
    From Jerome Kern’s score to the movie “Can’t Help Singing”, her only colour film.

    She was ninety+, but I hoped she’d live on forevee. Well she will through her singing.

    Thanks again to Maury D, who just told me about her film Christmas Holiday

    Oh, I am so so sad.

  • Agnese di Cervia

    My father’s favorite singer. Lovely lady.

  • bluecabochon


    One of my favorites…

    • bluecabochon

      I put the “v” in but it wouldn’t embed. Is it because I’m on an iPad?

      • WindyCityOperaman

        • bluecabochon

          Thanks, WCO!

        • perfidia

          What an extraordinary talent the young Garland had. Truly a little girl with the voice of a grown woman. Her mature art is terrific, but never this fresh and spontaneous. Durbin’s screen persona was very much set. Maybe that’s why she couldn’t transition into more mature roles. But I think in the end that worked in her favor. She got out before it got ugly. There’s an anecdote of Garland coming to visit Durbin in London, and Durbin was shocked that Garland was still in the business.

          • armerjacquino

            …and calling her ‘Frances’.

    • Camille

      Bluecabbie, let me pass onto you the tip kashania, principe di persia, lent to me:

      you see the “m.” up there, immediately before “youtube”?——-erase it when you put it on here @ parterre. Then put in the “v”. That should do it.

      Sometimes, now, it doesn’t work WITH the “v”, so I post it with and without.
      Damned machines!

      • Thank you for referring to me by my full title, Camille chere. So few people do…

        • Camille

          It is only seemly and correct to do so. Especially as you stick your neck out for us all, chéri!

          The flags should all be lowered in Canada today, in honor of Winnipeg’s finest diva.


  • RobNYNY1957

    What might have been. It’s fun picturing her as Susanna, Adele, Sophie. And maybe a stretch: Mimi, Adina, Norina,Rosina.

  • WindyCityOperaman

  • armerjacquino

    Just the most lovable performer on screen, and such a ravishing voice. My mum wanted to BE her as a child, and as a result I spent my own childhood watching MAD ABOUT MUSIC (with her unmatched Bach/Gounod AVE MARIA), ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL, and especially CAN’T HELP SINGING.

    She will be remembered, sitting in that carriage in black and white check with the green ribbon, singing beautifully about joy.

    • Camille

      I don’t care what you say, love affects me this way:

      For armerjacquino’s Mum and my dear husband, who love this movie:

      “Can’t Help Singing”, DD’s only technicolour film, from 1944.
      It is one of the movies in the “Sweetheart Pack”, comprised of:
      “Three Smart Girls”
      “Something in the Wind”
      “First Love”
      “It Started with Eve”
      “Can’t Help Singing”
      “Lady on a Train”

      The last film was directed by her husband, of nearly fifty years, Charles David, with whom she abandoned Hollywood in 1949 and, unlike Lot’s wife, never turned around toward again. There is only one real interview in all those years, in 1983, with a film historian David Shipman, and which can be read online.

      Although some of her movies look impossibly corny and old-fashioned to today’s caustic, jaded, sophisticated hipster, I don’t care what they say, love affects me that way. A beautiful voice coupled with a rare ability to make people happy and lift up the spirit.
      Ça suffit.

  • perfidia

    Compared to McDonald, Powell and Grayson, she had the warmest voice, and it seems to have grown richer as she got older. I love Grayson in her candy colored MGM cinematic fruit salads, but, especially up high, she sounds like a dental drill. What a great life she had, and what a wonderful legacy.

  • papopera

    Durbin my God, a ghost from the past. Watching One Hundred Men and A Girl today is enough to make you regurgitate your popcorn. RIP

    • manou

      More emetic outpourings papopera?

      • perfidia

        Or, as that great sage Suzanne Sugarbaker said: “Bad manners is worse than having no money.”

  • Nero Wolfe

    One of my favorites.

    Questions: Did she ever appear live in concert and how did her voice sound and carry? Could she have made it as an opera or Broadway star if she had wanted to? Not her ability to sell tickets, but would she have been good enough?

  • Grane

    My 90-year-old mother is a great fan of hers. Luckily I wasn’t born until after Ms. Durbin retired. Otherwise her NYT quote--that her biggest fans were the parents of unsatisfactory kids--would have me wondering!

    Co-incidentally, tonight my mom will observe her annual May 1 celebration with a glass of wine and “Maytime,” starring her other favorite, Jeannette MacDonald.

  • Ilka Saro

    I didn’t really know anything about Deanna Durbin until I some of those Andy Hardy films at the old Regency. Wow. She was quite a singer!

    I think her withdrawal from the film industry is completely understandable. Although her co-star Judy Garland went on to make some truly outstanding films as an adult, even to produce those films, Garland’s experiences growing up in the industry very likely contributed to her alcoholism, addiction and early demise. Not all child stars go on to have difficult lives, but the wonderful Judy Garland is no exception.
    Durbin’s early departure from the industry may very well have saved her life.