100 Men and A Girl: The Girl Has Died

Deanna Durbin. Just try to upstage her!(Photo: Wikipedia)
Deanna Durbin. Just try to upstage her!(Photo: Wikipedia)

Deanna Durbin has died in France at the age of 91.

Who’s Deanna Durbin?

She was a top box office star for Paramount and MGM from the late 1930s to just after World War II. Judy Garland’s first picture starred Durbin. Durbin was a classically trained coloratura soprano who could never have a career in movies today. She was something more than the recent Charlotte Church-Jackie Evancho idiocy. Durbin could really sing. She would have been viable in opera and concert.

Someone, probably Mr. and Mrs. Durbin, were no fools. All that classy stuff is fine, but this is depression and we got bills to pay. Durbin successfully parlayed vocal dazzle with a girl next door personality that made her equally comfortable with Leopold Stokowski and Mickey Rooney.

She had several hits starting with Pigskin Parade. I’m not kidding, look it up.

Her greatest success, and a huge moneymaker, was 100 Men and a Girl.

You gotta love Durbin for her talent and her sense. She was still a kid when she realized that lissome on screen coloraturas had a short shelf life. Before the age of 25, Durbin counted her money and she got out. Durbin married a Frenchman and lived in France for the rest of her long life. Interviewers and photographers were turned away. Lerner and Lowe got as far as the front door hoping to interest her in My Fair Lady, but they never got inside.

She was a Hollywood comet whose popularity surpassed Clark Gable’s. I admire her for her voice and her level head. No druggy MGM career for our Deanna.

R.I.P.

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