Deborah Kerr :: Biography
Britain's Most Successful Actress of The 40s & 50s
Deborah Kerr-Trimmer, born in Helensburgh, Scotland in 1921 was the most renowned British film actress of her generation, achieving international stardom when she moved to Hollywood in 1947.
Gabriel Pascal cast her in Major Barbara (1940) after seeing her on stage in Oxford. Kerr distinguished herself in Love on the Dole (1941), Powell & Pressburger's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943, and salary £5,000) and Black Narcissus (1947). The latter film spurred her move to MGM.
"I came over here to act, but it turned out all I had to do was to be high-minded, long-suffering, white-gloved and decorative."
The genteel alcoholic in Edward, My Son (1949) was an exception and won her her first Best Actress Oscar nomination.
Matters improved when, freed from the constraints of her MGM contract, she committed adultery in the surf in From Here to Eternity (1953). It brought her a second Oscar nomination and several memorable films. She was Oscar nominated again for The King and I (1956); Tea and Sympathy (1956); Heaven Knows, Mr Alison (1957) - another Oscar nomination; An Affair to Remember (1957); a fifth Oscar nomination for Seperate Tables (1958), and The Sandowners (1960) brought yet another Academy nomination.
The Academy went a small way (and when I say 'small' I mean a fraction) to compensating her for never having won when, in 1994, she was presented with an honorary Oscar in recognition of:
"an artist of impeccable grace and beauty, a dedicated actress whose motion picture career had always stood for perfection, discipline and elegance."
In 1960, after her divorce from her husband Anthony Bartley, by whom she had two daughters (Melanie Jane, born on December 27, 1947 and Francesca Ann), Kerr married Peter Viertel and moved to Switzerland. In 1964 she made The Night of the Iguana and her salary had risen to $250,000.
She retired from the screen after The Arrangement (1969) and though in the early 1980s she appeared in a couple of things on TV it wasn't until 1985 that she re-emerged on the screen to give a poignant performance in The Assan Garden. It was her last film before the onset of illness. She suffers from Parkinson disease.
Because of illness she no longer signs autographs.
In August 2004, her brother, Edmund Trimmer (78) was murdered in a road rage incident in the Midlands, UK.
Her scene in her first film, Contraband, was cut out completely.
Deborah Kerr :: Death Announced
It was announced on 18th October 2007 that Deborah Kerr died at the age of 86 in Suffolk on Tuesday 16th, her agent said. She had lived in Switzerland but returned to England to be near her family when her illness worsened.
She leaves a husband, the novelist and screenwriter Peter Viertel, two daughters and three grandchildren.
She was really one of the last links to the golden age of cinema. With her passing, we have lost a true icon of British cinema. All that remains is what she left on the silver screen but boy what a legacy. I guess for most that would be the 1950s films like From Here to Eternity and The King and I but for me I think you have to go back a decade to see even better work and by that I'm thinking of the British films she made for Powell & Pressburger, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) an, in particular, Black Narcissus (1947). But that is just a personal opinion and those films from the 1950s do stand the test of time.
Moreover, those films of the 40s and the 50s serve, for me, as supporting roles for her truly great work in the 1961 classic film The Innocents. It is an ambiguous role and I can't think of many mainstream Hollywood stars of the period who would have dared played it but she did and is the heartbeat of the movie.
I feel somehow that we as moviegoers of today are somehow short-changed. I mean moviegoers of the 1950s had Deborah Kerr; what do we have as an equivalent? Sienna Miller.
Can I have my money back??
Gallery :: Photo Stills
Gallery :: Film Posters
You won't be surprised to know but the company with the most varied of Deborah Kerr repro. film posters is amazon. There are a vast array of his posters there - far, far more than here.
They come in various sizes and usually work out to be less than $10 per poster which I don't think is too bad. You get an unusual and beautiful item to hang on your walls and I bet your friends won't have it.
Here, occasionally, you will find an original poster from the time of the release of the movie. They are obviously far more expensive but if you have the money they are worth it as they are works of art in their own right.
A few of The Innocents posters are below but a more comprehensive gallery from that film is now here.
Deborah Kerr Film Posters available @ amazon.com.
Deborah Kerr Film Posters available @ amazon.com.
Sept. 2013: As part of photographing the covers and inner flaps of every book ever published, I've started the scans on Deborah Kerr books which can be viewed here (smartphone page). Just a few for the mo. but will be added to. If you have any photos of any Richard Burton book covers from any part of the world why not e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) them to me and I'll put them up. The aim is to have a visual record of every Deborah Kerr book ever published. Inner flaps and the publishers notes contain so much info about the book - I like to include at least the flap as well if possible. And your help makes it a lot easier. Or, if you prefer, you can send me your unwanted books and I can scan them. Any book, not just this author. Address: Paul Page, 5 High St., South Norwood, London SE25 6EP, UK. If you are thinking of chucking those books out then this would make a perfect alternative home for them