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Midweek Madness remembers the late, great Deanna Durbin

Sad to hear about Deanna Durbin's death this week at the age of 91. The Winnipeg-born Hollywood actress and singer was a terrific talent whose 1930s and '40s movies earned her enormous popularity (my late father was one of her biggest fans).

Deanna Durbin became nearly as famous for her extraordinary retirement from show business in 1949 -- giving up everything to move to France with her third husband. She remained basically secluded for the rest of her long life.

At the risk of seeming inappropriate, I thought you wouldn't mind if I devoted this installment of my Midweek Madness featurette to this endearing artist, especially since this clip manages to capture her operatic ability, charm and comedic flair all in one.

This is a scene from her last film, "The Love of Mary" (1948). Deanna plays a White House switchboard operator, which explains the backdrop. Here, she demonstrates to her operatically inexperienced date the hit tune from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" -- even if that tune is normally sung by a baritone in the title role.

There's something delightfully mad about hearing a fine coloratura soprano appropriating this aria. And, as you will see, Deanna Durbin makes quite a splash with it.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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