Born to Ada and James Durbin on December 4, 1921, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Edna Mae Durbin grew up to be one of the most famous movie stars of the '30s.

Durbin began taking voice lessons at eleven. She decided to become an opera singer. However, in 1935, she was sidetracked by a contract with MGM. Made in 1935, Every Sunday was a short film starring Edna Durbin and Judy Garland. It has been said that after the audition-like film MGM planned to cut Garland, but let go of Durbin instead because of an administrative mistake (Update*: When L.B. Mayer saw Every Sunday, he asked his assistant to "Sign up that singer - the flat one". The assistant heard "the fat one", and signed Garland, who was apparently on the pudgy side.)

Following release from her MGM contract, Edna signed a contract with Universal, which was then in serious financial trouble. Her name was changed to "Deanna" around the same time as her film debut, Three Smart Girls, was released. With the success of Three Smart Girls and Deanna's next film, One Hundred Men and a Girl, Universal managed to avoid bankruptcy. (Deanna's movies brought in $100 million dollars in the ten years after she signed with Universal.)*

In 1939, Deanna Durbin and Mickey Rooney were awarded Honorary Academy Awards for their "significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth, and as juvenile players setting a high standard of ability and achievement." The "juvenile" image stuck to Deanna. Her first role as an independant woman was in It Started With Eve in 1941, and not until 1944 (at the age of 23) did she begin to receive serious dramatic roles. Unfortunately, the studio and the public did not respond well. When she continued to receive roles not well suited to her, Deanna Durbin retired from acting in 1948 at 27. She has not been interviewed since 1949.

Deanna Durbin now lives in France. She has been married three times (to Vaughn Paul from 1941 to 1943, to Felix Jackson from 1945 to 1949, and to Charles Henri David from 1950 to 1999) She has two children, Jessica Louise Jackson and Peter David. Though she has declined all offers for interviews and comebacks since retiring, Deanna still has a fan following today.


Every Sunday (1936, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Three Smart Girls (1936, Universal)

One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937, Universal)

Mad About Music (1938, Universal)

That Certain Age (1938, Universal)

Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939, Universal)

First Love (1939, Universal)

It's a Date (1940, Universal)

Spring Parade (1940, Universal)

Nice Girl? (1941, Universal)

It Started with Eve (1941, Universal)

The Amazing Mrs. Holliday (1943, Universal)

Hers to Hold (1943, Universal)

His Butler's Sister (1943, Universal)

Christmas Holiday (1944, Universal)

Can't Help Singing (1944, Universal)

Lady on a Train(1945, Universal)

Because of Him (1946, Universal)

I'll Be Yours(1947, Universal-International)

Something in the Wind (1947, Universal-International)

Up in Central Park (1948, Universal-International)

For the Love of Mary (1948, Universal-International)


The Internet Movie Database -
The Deanna Durbin Database -
The Deanna Durbin Page -
Yahoo! Movies Deanna Durbin -

*Servo5678 found this in Uncle John's Fourth Bathroom Reader, pages 121-122. Thanks!

Editors Note:

According to Wikipedia "On April 30, 2013, a newsletter published by the Deanna Durbin Society reported that Durbin died "a few days ago", quoting her son, Peter H. David, who thanked her admirers for respecting her privacy. No other details were given."

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.