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Submitted by: Phil Hite
Is This A New Star?
Picture Post, December 7, 1940
She is called Deborah Kerr --- the "Botticelli blonde." She is only nineteen. And her big new part is in the film "Love on the Dole."
So a new English film actress has appeared in war-time! She is called Deborah Kerr, and she is to appear in the film version of Walter Greenwood's play, Love on the Dole.
Possibly Miss Kerr was not exactly lucky to be born just 19 years ago. For this means that she has come to the age when a film actress ought to get going when the British film industry is pretty far down in the dumps. But luckily for her, films are still being produced. And luckily for her, a beautiful girl is still noticed by the men who make thes films.
She certainly attracts the attention of everybody who comes near her, for she is what they call a "Botticelli blonde"---reddish-gold hair, light blue eyes, and a face capable of expressing "spiritual wistfulness." The Financial Director of Capitol Film Productions, Nicholas Davenport, who first noticed her possibilities as a film actress, maintains her face is a new type on the screen. "It impressed me" he says, because of its profile resemblance to the woman in Botticelli's 'Purification of the leper.'" So he posed her as other Botticelli subjects. And so Miss Kerr started a near career.
Born Deborah Kerr-Trimmer, she is a Scots girl.
Her father died of wounds soon after the last war and she lived with her mother at Bristol, where she went to school before joining the corps de Ballet at Sadler's Wells when she was sixteen. But alas, Deborah grew too big for a ballet student. So she left and took a course of dramatic art with her aunt Phyllis Smal at Bristol. And she appeared once or twice with the Bristol Repertory Company.
Now She had her first film chance in Contraband, produced by British National. But it was hardly a chance. This is what Deborah Kerr says about it:"Oh, disappointment! When I saw the edited version of the film they had cut out my short scene." After this, while keeping the film objective in view, she took a job on the stage, as a member of the Oxford Repertory Company.
Nothing distresses her more than the publicity which harps on "glamour". "Just because I'm Blonde, everybody types me," she grumbles. "I like playing parts with guts." Her description of the way she broke into the big film world has the same sort of racy quality. "I was introduced," she says, "to producer-director Gabriel Pascal, who was looking for the cast of his big film Major Barbara. We were dining at the Mayfair at the time, and when it was suggested he should use me for the part of Jenny, he took one look at me and drawled, "No, she's no good --- too sexy!' But he kept looking at me during the evening, and as he left he turned and said maybe I'll send for you.' A week after he did, and gave me my biggest break in Major Barbara."
Whether Miss Kerr was at home as a Salvation Army lassie must be judged from the film. But she certainly has her chance as the girl in Love on the Dole.
She is a lovely girl. She is crystal fresh in quality. She has intelligence, and that uncommon quality of common sense which endears the best young American actresses to the world's audiences.
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