February 27, 2011

Deanna Durbin's Big Night at the 1938 Academy Awards

The 11th Annual Academy Awards took place in Los Angeles on Thursday February 23, 1939 in the dining room of the Biltmore Hotel, which is still there today but of course no longer hosts the ceremonies.

The dining room, The Biltmore Bowl, was one of the hottest dining rooms and nightclubs in LA at the time.

Below is a photo of what the Oscar ceremony looked like at the time (the photo is on a wall in the hotel today).

Deanna arrives at the hotel with her parents.

Deanna presenting her ticket to
enter the Academy dinner
at the Biltmore Bowl.
Two young motion picture stars who had made quite an impact with audiences and the Academy in 1938 - Mickey Rooney and Deanna Durbin - were to be honored with a special "miniature" Oscar for their "significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth" and for "setting a high standard of ability and achievement."

The big winners were Spencer Tracy for Best Actor, Bette Davis for Best Actress, and "You Can't Take It With You" for Best Picture. Frank Capra won Best Director.

Unfortunately, I cannot find any photos with the two honorary teen stars together - Mickey Rooney and Deanna Durbin.

The juvenile Oscar was a nice tradition.
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!

Special thanks and references:


  1. Amazing! Thank you for sharing this ♥

  2. I didn't realize how teeny the juvenile award was. I wonder how much it weighed?

  3. This article is Fabulous. Deanna's passing mentioned by Academy last night. However big production on Judy Garland & "Wizard of Oz" did not reveal that Deanna was second choice to play Dorothy after Shirley Temple. Both were to BIG to be loaned. MGM settled with Garland.
    Deanna would have been better!

    1. Hi James, sorry about the duplication. I think I need to investigate the blog comment system---it should give you a confirmation that your post went through. -- Tom

  4. Thanks for the comment James! The tribute was nice. Hopefully will inspire more people to discover Deanna!