Visiting a Deanna Durbin fan site,( Deannadurbindevotees.com), I was fascinated to read an interview author David Shipman did with Deanna in 1983 at her home in France.
Deanna’s observations of her life in Hollywood are so revealing and her honesty is welcome. Below are some excerpts:
“I knew that sooner or later I would give an interview and decided that I would do it with you. I liked your two books on the stars and such statements you made as, “the system was firmly rigged against the individual in favor of the machine”
. …”Why did I give up my career? For one thing, just take a look at my last four films and you’ll appreciate that the stories I had to defend were mediocre, near impossible. Whenever I complained or asked for story or director approval, the studio refused. I was the highest paid star with the poorest material-today I consider my salary as damages for having to cope with such complete lack of quality.”
“I did not hate show business. I loved to sing. I was happy on the set. I liked the people with whom I worked and after the nervousness of the first day, I felt completely at ease in front of the camera. I also enjoyed the company of my fellow actors, the leading men who were so much older, like Herbert Marshall, Melvyn Douglas, Franchot Tone, Walter Pidgeon, Joseph Cotten, Vincent Price and Robert Cummings. I did two films with my special friend, Charles Laughton. Working with these talented men helped me so very much and I grew up much faster than the average teenager. What I did find difficult was that this acquired maturity had to be hidden under the childlike personality my films and publicity projected on me.”
“I hated being in a goldfish bowl. If I went to New York, I had to stay in my hotel room or go everywhere under guard, whisked away in a big black limousine, terrified that the fans running alongside would get hurt in the traffic. My mother and I were once mobbed in Texas: the police lost control of the crowd and my mother suffered two broken ribs from people trying to reach me. I have never been so frightened. They put me in the town jail for safety and to avoid the mob still waiting at the station, they flagged the train down in the middle of nowhere, where I got on safely.”
“Just once was I seriously tempted (to return to performing), by the prospect of My Fair Lady on Broadway. It was still in an embryonic state just a few songs completed when Alan Jay Lerner came to my home to play them for me. I loved them…but I had my ticket to Paris in my pocket and anyway, Julie Andrews was great and so was Audrey Hepburn in the film.”
The whole interview can be read at DeannaDurbindevotees.com.
The late Mr Shipman wrote one of my favourite books , THE GREAT FILM STARS; THE GOLDEN YEARS.
Catching up on Lady On A Train recently, it was interesting to see that her then husband,Felix Jackson produced it and her third husband,Charles David directed it.
Felix Jackson produced 7 of Deanna’s films from 1943 to 1947. They were married from 1945 to 1949.
Charles David directed only two films in Hollywood, both in 1945 – Lady On A Train and Fairy Tale Murder (with Gloria Jean). The French born David married Deanna in 1950 and Deanna chose to leave America and settle in France.
( in the 1981 photo above, is Deanna holding a copy of the BBC ‘s Radio Times?)