Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland, and the Golden Age of Hollywood

Lyons: Globe Pequot. Jul. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781493064335. $29.95. FILM
In the 1930s and ’40s, Judy Garland and Deanna Durbin were very popular singing child stars. While the tragic Garland’s legend is still strong, Durbin’s career has fallen into obscurity. Musician and music historian Gall wants to change that in this first-ever full biography of the teenage superstar who possessed a beautiful voice and was even more famous than Garland in the 1930s. Gall traces her singing and movie career and provides little-known information about her personal life. The Canadian-born Durbin was discovered at 14 and starred in 21 films in little over a decade. She was said to have saved Universal Studios and was at one time the highest-paid woman in America. Despite her early success, Durbin became disillusioned with Hollywood, a place not often kind to aging child stars. At 27, she retired and moved to France. She never made another movie or sang in public again. But unlike Garland’s, Durbin’s life did not end in tragedy. She married French director-producer Charles Henri David and lived happily ever after.
VERDICT A well-written and fascinating biography that celebrity mavens and fans of the Golden Age of Hollywood will enjoy.
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