18 October 2007

RIP: Deborah Kerr

Deborah Kerr
30 Sep 1921 - 16 Oct 2007

ZUI this article from The Telegraph:
Deborah Kerr, star of From Here To Eternity, has died aged 86.

Kerr was the unfadingly ladylike and prototypical English rose whose red-haired, angular beauty and self-possessed femininity distinguished more than 50 films in four decades of cinema.

She made serenity dramatic; and though her poise might be ruffled at critical moments in scenes of passion (most famously exemplified by her encounter on the beach with Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity in 1953), her well-bred airs and social graces made her a model of British womanhood in Hollywood.

Her best-known film was probably The King and I, in which she played a haughty governess opposite Yul Brynner's Siamese monarch; and her principal problem as an accomplished actress was to convince Hollywood of her sensual potential. Although she herself was a more spirited, relaxed and informal person than her image on the screen suggested, producers were reluctant to cast her in passionate roles.

The Times has this to say:
Deborah Kerr, the Scottish actress who rolled in the surf with Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity and charmed Yul Brynner’s Siamese monarch in the King and I, has died at 86.

She was “an artist of impeccable grace and beauty, a dedicated actress whose motion picture career has always stood for perfection, discipline and elegance”, according to the citation for the honorary Academy Award that she won in 1994.

She died on Tuesday in Suffolk, her agent said. “Her family was with her at the time. She had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for some time and had just had her 86th birthday. She just slipped away.”

And Fox News adds:
Kerr (pronounced CARR) was the only daughter of a civil engineer and architect who died when she was 14. Born in Helensburgh, Scotland, she moved with her parents to England when she was 5, and she started to study dance in the Bristol school of her aunt. Kerr won a scholarship to continue studying ballet in London, and at 17 she made her stage debut as a member of the corps de ballet in "Prometheus."

She soon switched to drama, however, and began playing small parts in repertory theater in London until it was shut down by the 1939 outbreak of World War II.

After reading children's stories on British Broadcasting Corp. radio, she was given the part of a hatcheck girl with two lines in the film "Contraband," but her speaking role ended on the cutting-room floor.

After more repertory acting she had another crack at films, reprising her stage role of Jenny, a Salvation Army worker, in a 1940 adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's "Major Barbara," receiving favorable reviews both in Britain and the United States.

She continued making films in Britain during the war, including one -- "Colonel Blimp" -- in which she played three different women over a span of decades.

"It is astonishing how she manages to make the three parts distinctly separate as characterizations," said New Movies magazine at the time.

I have to admit that when I saw her name, I didn't really recognise it, though it did sound familiar. Looking at IMDb, I only see two movies I'm sure I've seen - The King and I (with Yul Brynner, of course) and Casino Royale (with David Niven and Peter Sellers).

No comments: