Go to Part 3: Whatever happened to Winnepeg's Sweetheart?
This blog was started in 2010 as a tribute to Deanna and her films. On this site you will find reviews, photos, articles, video clips, old time radio programs, news and more.
Before they were stars, they appeared in one short subject together.
Deanna is often credited with helping to save Universal from bankrupcy.
October 6, 1987
NOWADAYS, A KISS IS JUST A KISS
Author: Vernon Scott, United Press International
Section: ARTS AND FILM
HOLLYWOOD -- The movies have been a real social barometer in the past
50 years when it comes to sexual sophistication, especially among the
Take the cases of Deanna Durbin, one of the top box-office stars of
the 1930s, and Molly Ringwald, one of today's major young actresses.
Durbin, a musical star of such films as "Three Smart Girls," "Mad
About Music" and "Spring Parade," was a fresh-faced beauty who
specialized in playing sweet, innocent characters.
Ringwald, the star of "Sixteen Candles," "Pretty in Pink" and "The
Breakfast Club," was cast the same way in all three films directed by
her former mentor, John Hughes.
Both actresses epitomized virtue and innocence, until they turned 19.**
In 1939, Durbin received her first screen kiss, from romantic bounder
Robert Stack in "First Love," and it was the smack heard round the
Universal Studios trumpeted the news as if it were the start of World
War II, newspapers and magazines covered the sensational smooch as a
major news event.
Stack became an overnight celebrity and, in fact, can trace much of
his long and successful career to that memorable kiss.
Dissolve to 1987, and it's more than kissing on the screen. In her
new movie, "The Pick-Up Artist" now playing in Boston at the Charles
and suburban cinemas, Ringwald is seduced in the back of an
automobile, a scene handled discreetly through dialogue.
However, while Durbin's kiss was headline material in 1939,
Ringwald's loss of innocence has not raised an eyebrow, illustrating
how far -- or how jaded -- we've become as moviegoers.
Stack was charmingly gallant about his stolen kiss back then, but
Robert Downey, the cad who seduces Ringwald, is filled with disbelief
when told of the stir made over Durbin's first kiss.
"A kiss doesn't mean much today," said Downey in an interview at a
Beverly Hills restaurant. "And it's no big deal about Molly losing
her virginity in a movie. She's not supposed to be a virgin when my
character meets her in the story. Or at least she's not a novice.
"Come to think of it, we only have one kiss in the film, and in the
seduction scene we're fully clothed," he said. "Girls at 19 today
must be different on and off the screen compared to what they were 50
years ago. Molly is 19 and the last I heard she was dating Adam
Horowitz, one of the Beastie Boys."
Until "The Pick-Up Artist," Downey, 22, had played secondary roles in
such films as "Weird Science" and "Back to School." In his first
costarring part, he was filled with admiration for Ringwald's
"She's a very fine actress," he said. "Really on top of it. Few young
actors are as focused as she is. You've gotta keep eye contact with
her or you lose it in a hurry.
"Molly is always right on the ball, and if I missed a beat and the
scene dropped, she was aware of it and let me know.
"I was a little paranoid when we started the picture because my part
was so much bigger than I had played before. But I took the pressure
off by telling myself I was a supporting player. It was a trick that
worked for me.
"And I learned a lot watching Molly. She keeps growing as a person
and as an actress."
Downey also is doing some growing also. A onetime regular
on "Saturday Night Live," he will be seen later this year starring as
a drug-addicted teen-ager in "Less than Zero."
At the end of the conversation, Downey still seemed a little confused
about one thing. "I still don't understand what the big deal was
about a girl getting kissed in a movie for the first time," he said.
|VHS cover for 3 Smart Girls|
|VHS - MGM's release of It's a Date|
|VHS cover for 100 Men & a Girl|
|VHS cover for It Started With Eve|
|VHS cover for His Butler's Sister|
|VHS cover for Up In Central Park|
|Pittsburgh Press Announces Durbin Marriage Dec 21, 1950|
“I gave a good chunk of my life to the movies and missed a normal girlhood. I am going to run a real home for my own …children.”The star further states that same year in the Corpus Christ Times that
“… I can see how much Jessica [her first child] missed by not having [me around]. When she was a baby, I was at the studio from 6 in the morning until 8 at night. During that time she was in the care of a nurse, and heaven knows what would happen to her while I was at the studio.”Ms. Durbin and Charles David envisioned a different life for themselves, a quieter existence. Their marriage ceremony reflects the choice and the town’s history parallels somewhat the bride‘s own life up to that point.
|Merdian Daily Journal mentions the engaged couple's plans - Dec 16, 1950|
|Durbin and David with son Peter, early 1950s|
|Deanna plays a schoolteacher in China who must flee with a group of orphans after the Japanese attack her village.|
|The film was nominated for an Oscar for |
Best Music Score.
Dear Will Everson
In gratitude for your invitations I thought I'd send you this snapshot I took of Deanna a year ago.
|Copyrights belong to their respective owners|
"[I] had a brief on-the-set fling with Deanna Durbin, when we did a picture together. It is an old Hollywood custom for leading man and leading lady to fall for each other. In That Certain Age I kissed her on screen, and I gave her a few off-screen kisses, too. We had problems finding privacy on the bustling movie set and finally took to a tactic which I imagine has stood romantically inclined couples on movie sets in good stead for many years. We would duck behind the backdrops and find a few precious— although musty— moments of quiet and togetherness. Then, when the call came for the first team to report back, she would go one way and I would go the other way."
|David Bruce and Deanna Durbin|
“One minute she is just a little girl in pigtails lost in a great big raincoat, and the next minute she is a many-curved siren crooning ‘Give Me a Little Kiss, Will You, Huh?’ ….”Ms. Durbin’s maturity and sensuality are so pronounced in this film - with tight-fitting skirts and come-hither stares - one wonders whether the “Daddy,” to whom she coos over the phone, is actually her father or some guy with whom she has a secretly-arranged relationship.
"...he will have to squawk about the book being changed from the picture instead of the picture being changed from the book. This for a change will leave the motion picture industry looking rather pure and angelic, while Charteris can be called the vandal and the heel.
Now while I am awaiting the presentation of a small gilded lily awarded by the Motion Picture Academy for this distinguished service I am privileged to whisper in your ear that wherever this book is different from the picture it is because I think that this is definitely an improvement.”
|Life Mag page 24 - click to enlarge|
|A closer look - click to enlarge|
" Kids in those days [late 1930s] had a rough time going from twelve to sixteen years old. There were no 'in-between' clothes or shoes like kids have today. It was Mary Jane flats, Red Cross shoes or high heels. The dresses were either too young-looking or too old-looking. . . .
I couldn't find the right clothes for the stage that would be appropriate for me at my age. Thank God for Deanna Durbin. She was fifteen or sixteen and in the movies. The studio made some beautiful, youthful evening gowns for her. Lord and Taylor in New York had copies of those dresses. I opened a charge account there and got three of them.... So I was able to get clothes that were right for me."
|Deanna arrives at the hotel with her parents.|
|Deanna presenting her ticket to|
enter the Academy dinner
at the Biltmore Bowl.
|Radio and film star Edgar Bergan (sans his ventriloquist dummy Charlie McCarthy) is at Deanna's table that night. He was to present her with the Oscar.|
|Bergen presents the miniature Oscar to Deanna. Look how small it is!|
There was an honest quality about her, and audiences felt it. Whatever motivated her to leave the business- the desire to be real and have a life that made sense- is the truth that audiences felt in her on-screen presence. Durbin connected right to audiences. She seemed to be one of them. The amazing thing about her was that it turned out to be true, She came down off the screen and proved it by rejoining them. Her defection wasn’t a ploy and was never rescinded. . . . Deanna Durbin, that most open and radiant of movie stars, remains more enigmatic than Garbo. She retired and led a normal life, the one thing that seems to have eluded almost every other movie star.
|click to enlarge|
The opening page of a picture essay on summer theaters ... so impressed Universal's Producer Joe Pasternak that he duplicated it for Deanna Durbin's new movie...."