Deanna Durbin was in movies for what, thirteen years? --- from 1936 to 1948 and by-then starring vehicles so poor, at least by her reckoning, as to drive real-named Edna Mae out of the business. Said abbreviated career came to 14.28 percent of Durbin's life, so a question for fans is: How important was any given 14.28 percent of your lives so far? --- let alone a portion that ended sixty-five years ago (I'm still waiting to have been around that long). Most people stay thirty to fifty years at a job/career before retirement or death. Durbin toiled but a fraction of that. Should it be wondered that she chose afterward silence over reflection? Think of folks you've known who submitted to workaday rut for decades until rescue of social security and 401K. Do any of them look longingly back on teller windows or grocery management? Deanna Durbin said she never enjoyed being a movie star, and that put her square in line with fans who for a most part hated their toil as well. She was relief from their misery, but where was relief for Deanna, other than flight to
Deanna Durbin was my favorite actress, along with Norma Shearer. I sort of clung to hope she'd invite me to Rue Du Whatever for cakes and an afternoon reminiscing, but a most this fan received was a friendly note dated 1/30/86, that being plenty in light of near-none access her followers had. Internet disclosure of Durbin's changed address and, well, the Internet itself, renewed avalanche of mail to levels unknown since Universal peonage, which maybe isn't an apt word, for pay-packs gone Deanna's way were said to be most profuse in the industry. How many stars walked away from such money? DD's vehicles were slipping, but not her appeal. She could have gone to MGM and entreaty of Joe Pasternak and done any number of musicals w/ Astaire, Kelly ... name your song/dancing mate. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers with her would have been a certainty. All that's speculation, and it's a cinch Deanna would not have lived to serene ninety-one had she kept pulling careerism's plow.
I could ask all the way out to the county line and find not one who's heard of Deanna Durbin. Ann checked the news earlier and saw nada about her passing. The problem was always Durbin being retired too long and the pictures shown too seldom. Selling her to a modern audience was tough for an image locked into distant past and movies like fragment from another galaxy. Think TCM will salute Deanna with a half-dozen features this week? That would need quick licensing from Universal and attendant expense, the only DD Warner owns being It's A Date and short subject Every Sunday. Maybe there'll be increased Amazon orders for Sweetheart DVD packs. Haven't decided myself what of hers to get out. Lots are eminently rewatchable. Wonder what it's like to outlive nearly everyone you worked with and virtually all of first-run's fan base. Durbin never understood why anybody would take an interest in her screen persona. Was she equally baffled by modern-day devotees?
More Deanna Durbin at Greenbriar's Archive: Her Glamour Starters, Parts One and Two, plus Spreading More Deanna Love, Lady On A Train, Deanna, How Could You Let Them Do This?, and Deanna In Technicolor.