Early Hollywood teen star Deanna Durbin dies at 91

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 2, 2013 at 1:13 am •  Published: May 2, 2013
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In 1936, she co-starred with Judy Garland in "Every Sunday." The financially struggling Universal hired her to star in "Three Smart Girls." It was Durbin's first full-length feature, and it was a huge success thanks to the young actress' strong screen presence. A year later, "One Hundred Men and a Girl" followed suit, saving Universal from bankruptcy and earning the renamed Deanna Durbin the nickname, "the mortgage lifter."

Rode said Durbin, along with Abbot and Costello, "saved the studio from going down the tubes."

By 1939 child roles were becoming increasingly out-of-reach for Durbin who had grown into a mature young woman. She was passed over for the role of Dorothy in the classic "Wizard of Oz" and Garland got the part. That same year saw her first on-screen kiss — with Robert Stack — and the news bumped war headlines off daily papers.

Durbin married cinematographer Vaughn Paul in 1941, and was divorced in 1943.

She made "Can't Help Singing," her first and only Technicolor film, in 1944. Her other films were in black-and-white because studio executives said it was too expensive to have Deanna Durbin and color film in the same movie.

That same year she married playwright Felix Jackson, 20 years her senior. They had one daughter and divorced in 1949.

In 1945, Durbin made "Lady on a Train" — directed by Charles David, whom she married five years later. The two moved to France and had a son. David died in 1999.

Durbin is survived by her daughter, Jessica Jackson, and her son, Peter H. David.