Deborah Kerr was born on September 30, 1921 in Glasgow, United Kingdom.
Father's name: Arthur Kerr-Trimmer
Mother's name: Edmund Trimmer
Brother: Edmund Kerr-Trimmer
Sister: No sister
Spouse: Anthony Bartley/ Peter Viertel
Children: Melanie Jane Bartley/ Francesca Shrapnel
The English Rose
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Height: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
The Scottish born star landed her breakthrough screen role in 1940, as a frightened Salvation Army worker in the all-star adaptation of the satire 'Major Barbara'. Deborah Kerr was born on 30 September 1921 in Scotland. Her father captain Arthur Kerr-Trimmer was a soldier who had been gassed in the First World War. She was educated at Clifton House in Bristol and as a shy, insecure teenager she found an outlet in acting. Originally trained for the ballet, she moved into stage acting and gained some experience in British repertory theatre with her debut being the West End show 'Heartbreak House' in 1943, before segueing to films.Kerr moved into leads in an adaptation of the controversial novel which was England's equivalent of 'The Grapes of Wrath', the touching study of Depression-era poverty, 'Love on the Dole' in 1941.She married Royal Air Force Squadron leader Anthony Bartley on 29 November 1945. They had two children Melanie Jane (born 27 December 1947) and Francesca (born 20 December 1951). However the marriage was troubled due to Bartley's jealously of Kerr's fame and financial success, as well as the fact she was often away from home due to filming. They divorced in 1959.However, it was her work in three separate roles in the splendid Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger time-spanning saga, 'The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp', as the various women in the hero's life, that brought her recognition. She followed up with several excellent performances, as the mousy wife whose marriage is revitalised when she enters wartime service, in 'Perfect Strangers' and the Irish spy in the gripping 'I See a Dark Stranger'. She also gave a marvellous performance as the determined yet fallible Sister Superior who attempts to establish a school and hospital in a remote Himalayan castle, in 'Powell' and Pressburger's 'Black Narcissus'. Kerr was soon co-starring opposite Clark Gable in the enjoyable advertising satire, 'The Hucksters'. Gracious, ladylike and smart, Kerr would in fact recreate two Irene Dunne roles: the proper Englishwoman who becomes governess to a potentate's brood, in the music version of Anna and the King of Siam, 'The King and I', (1956) and the heroine prevented from making a crucial rendezvous with her lover, in 'An Affair to Remember' (1958). The actress' regal quality suited her for period adventures including 'Quo Vadis' and 'The Prisoner of Zenda', and she also ventured into comedy in 'Dream Wife' and 'The Grass Is Greener'. One of the most famous images of Kerr's career was that of her straying wife in 'From Here to Eternity' (1953), making love on the beach with military officer Burt Lancaster. Deborah Kerr then starred in 'Separate Tables' in 1958, 'Sundowners' in 1960 and 'The Night of the Iguana' in 1964.Since her appeal did not really depend upon youthful beauty, she continued impressively, if less prolifically, into 1960s films. She married her second husband author Peter Viertal on 23 July 1960 and acquired a step daughter. Her work as a governess who encounters ghost-possessed charges in 'The Innocents', and free-spirited ones in 'The Chalk Garden' was well crafted, and she had fine moments as a gentle tourist, caring for her aging grandfather, in 'The Night of the Iguana'. In 1968, she suddenly quit movies as she was appalled by the sex and violence seen in the films of the time. Kerr subsequently returned primarily to stage work, keeping very busy in plays until health problems interfered with her work. She made a successful one-shot return to film as a repressed widow in 'The Assam Garden' and was given an honorary Oscar at the 1993 ceremony. Until that point, she held the record for the actress with the most Best Actress Oscar nominations (six) without a win. She is also just one of four Scottish actors to be nominated for an Academy Award, with Sean Connery being the only one to win. In the late 1990s, it was confirmed that she was suffering with Parkinson's disease which eventually confined her to a wheelchair. Although she long resided in Switzerland and Spain, she moved back to Britain to be closer to her children when her illness worsened. In 1997, she was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire).Sadly, Kerr succumbed to her illness and passed away at home in Suffolk in October 2007. She left a husband, the novelist and screenwriter Peter Viertel, who died three weeks later, two daughters and three grandchildren.
Kerr was educated at the independent Northumberland House School, Henleaze, Bristol (the school was demolished in 1937), and at Rossholme School, Weston-super-Mare.
She was a Scottish-born internationally known film, theatre and television actress. Her aunt, a radio star, got her some stage work when she was a teenager, and she came to the attention of British film producer Gabriel Pascal, who cast her in his film of George Bernard Shaw's "Major Barbara" (Major Barbara (1941)) and Love on the Dole (1941). She quickly became a star of the British cinema, playing such diverse roles as the three women in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943). After MGM was compensated to the tune of £16,000 by Powell, she reteamed with the director for his classic "Black Narcissus" (1947). As a resolute nun seeking to establish a school and hospital in a remote area of the Himalayas, Kerr's superb performance helped to make the film a major success in both England and America. She launched her Hollywood career opposite no less than Clark Gable in "The Hucksters" (1947) and earned her first Oscar nomination with a powerful performance as a disillusioned alcoholic in "Edward, My Son" (1949). Now one of the studio's prime assets, Kerr was given the female leads in MGM's adventure spectacles "King Solomon's Mines" (1950) and "Quo Vadis" (1951), both box office smashes and among the most fondly remembered pictures of their type from that era. After a while, however, she tired of playing prim-and-proper English ladies, so she made the most of the role of the adulteress who romps on the beach with Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity (1953). The film was a success, and Kerr received her second Oscar nomination. She also achieved success on the Broadwaystage in "Tea and Sympathy," reprising her role in the 1956 film version (Tea and Sympathy (1956)). That same year she played one of her best-remembered screen roles, "Mrs. Anna" in The King and I (1956). More success followed in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), An Affair to Remember (1957), Separate Tables (1958), The Sundowners (1960), The Innocents (1961) and The Night of the Iguana (1964). In the 1980's she was well received on the television screen in, among other films, "A Woman Of Substance" (1983) and "Reunion at Fairborough" (1985) which reunited her with longtime friend and costar of several films, Robert Mitchum. Her final feature film was "The Assam Garden", also in 1985.
Deborah Kerr was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1998, but was unable to accept the honour in person because of ill health. She was also honoured in Hollywood where, for her contributions to the motion picture industry, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 1709 Vine Street. She won a Golden Globe Award for "Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy" for The King and I in 1957, and a Henrietta Award for "World Film Favorite – Female". She was the first performer to win the New York Film Critics Circle Award for "Best Actress" three times (1947, 1957 and 1960). Although she never won a BAFTA, Oscar or Cannes Film Festival award in a competitive category, all three organizations gave her honorary awards: in 1984, she was awarded a Cannes Film Festival Tribute, in 1991, she received a BAFTA Special Award and in 1994, she received the Academy Honorary Award in recognition of "an artist of impeccable grace and beauty, a dedicated actress whose motion picture career has always stood for perfection, discipline and elegance". Deborah Kerr was nominated six times for the Academy Award for Best Actress: Edward, My Son (1949), From Here to Eternity (1953), The King and I (1956), Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957),Separate Tables (1958) and The Sundowners (1960). She was also nominated four times for the BAFTA Award for Best British Actress: The End of the Affair (1955), Tea and Sympathy (1956), The Sundowners (1961) and The Chalk Garden (1964). She received one Emmy Award nomination in 1985 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special for A Woman of Substance. She was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama for Edward, My Son (1949), Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957) and Separate Tables (1958).
Deborah Kerr died from the effects of Parkinson's disease on 16 October 2007 at the age of 86 in the English village of Botesdale, Suffolk. She was buried at St. Mary Churchyard in Redgrave, Suffolk, England.
All successful people these days seem to be neurotic. Perhaps we should stop being sorry for them and start being sorry for me - for being so confounded normal.
I am really rather like a beautiful Jersey cow, I have the same pathetic droop to the corners of my eyes.
I respect anyone who has to fight and howl for his decency.
I studied voice for three months to get rid of my English accent. I changed my hair to blonde. I knew I could be sexy if I had to.
When you're young, you just go banging about, but you're more sensitive as you grow older.
Personally, I think if a woman hasn't met the right man by the time she's 24, she may be lucky.
In my dressing room, I think, I must be mad to do this!
I suppose the part nearest me is Laura Reynolds in Tea and Sympathy. Of course playright Bob Anderson didn't know that, but he wrote Laura Reynolds, and Laura Reynolds happened to be me. It was the coming together of a part and an actress - the same attitude to life, a certain shyness in life, a deep compassion for people who are being persecuted for anything.
I came over here (Hollywood) to act, but it turned out all I had to do was to be high-minded, long suffering, white-gloved and decorative.