A movie star who became the highest-paid actress of 1947 only to turn her back on Hollywood after a brief career has died. The Los Angeles Times reports that Deanna Durbin, who walked away from Hollywood at age 26, died Tuesday at 91.
Durbin, an accomplished singer as well as an actress, was a teen sensation at Universal Studios. But after retiring from public life in 1949 she moved to a farmhouse outside Paris and remained out of the limelight for the rest of her life.
Durbin’s wildly popular movies were credited with rescuing Universal from bankruptcy during the Depression. She was a teen star during the 1930s, winning the Academy Juvenile Award at age 17. Among her films were “Three Smart Girls” in 1936, “Spring Parade” in 1940 and “Lady on a Train” in 1945.
“Appearing in only one short and 21 feature films in her 12-year career in Hollywood, Durbin nevertheless left behind a treasure trove of upbeat productions that made her one of the biggest stars of her era and earned her loyal fans decades after her last film was released in 1948,” the Times reports.
Since 1950 she had lived outside the village of Neauphle-le-Chateau, near Paris.
“At a time when most girls were barely discovering boys, Durbin was catapulted into her role as a wholesome teen idol to millions of young girls,” the Times reports. “Dresses, dolls, ski suits and hats were named after her. Her fresh face and clear voice were known all over the world. Poignantly, even Anne Frank, confined to her family’s hiding place in Amsterdam during World War II, pasted a movie magazine picture of Durbin on her wall.”