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Deanna Durbin dies: Depression-era child star was 91

05/01/2013 by Daniel Reynolds

Deanna Durbin, a child star from the Depression era, has died, according to the New York Times. The actress was 91 years old.

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Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1921, Durbin was raised in Southern California, where she was discovered by MGM for her singing abilities at the age of 13. After filming a musical short with Judy Garland, Durbin moved to Universal Pictures, which she is credited with rescuing from bankruptcy.

Durbin rocketed to fame in 1936 after debuting in her first feature film with Universal, "Three Smart Girls," in which she portrayed a daughter determined to mend the ailing relationship of her wealthy parents. Through pluck and song, she saved the day for both fictional parents and real-life studio, whose empty coffers were replenished with box-office gold from Durbin's instant stardom.

By 1946, Durbin had become the second highest earning leading lady in Hollywood after Bette Davis. After starring in 21 movies, Durbin relinquished the title of America's Sweetheart and retired to the French countryside in 1950.

She is survived by her son, Peter H. David, who confirmed the actress' death in a newsletter released by the Deanna Durbin Society. He did not announce the cause of death, and thanked her fans for honoring the family's privacy.

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