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Glasgow, Lanarkshire
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Glasgow, Lanarkshire

Deborah Kerr was a well-known English actress during her era. She was born in Scotland and is regarded as a true English beauty, with flawless grace and elegance, a ramrod posture honed during her ballet training, and flame colored tresses that set her apart from other actresses. Her admirers also dubbed her ‘The English Rose.’ She was the recipient of one ‘Golden Globe Award,’ three ‘New York Film Critics Awards,’ one ‘BAFTA Fellowship Award,’ six Oscar nominations, three ‘Golden Globe’ nominations, four ‘BAFTA Award’ nominations, and a ‘CBE’ for her work over a 45-year acting career. She gained prominence for her performances in ‘From Here to Eternity’ and ‘The King and I’. She was admired throughout the industry for her acting ability and the professionalism with which she approached her roles. She was equally adept at playing nuns or slaves on stage or screen. She began her career as a ballet dancer but switched to acting after realizing her five-foot-seven-inch frame was a little too tall for ballet. She performed on stage, on the big screen, and on television.

Childhood & Adolescence

Deborah Kerr was born Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer on September 30, 1921, in Helensburgh, Scotland. Her father was Captain Arthur Kerr-Trimmer, an army engineer, and her mother was Kathleen Rose. Edmund was her younger brother (Teddy).

From the age of five, she began taking ballet lessons and was enrolled at the ‘St. Martha’s School’ in Surrey and then at the ‘Northumberland House Boarding School’ in Clifton, Bristol.

She attended her aunt Phyllis Smale’s ‘Hicks-Smale Drama School’ in Bristol when she was sixteen. She began performing in productions at Regent Park’s ‘Open Air Theater’ and changed her name to Deborah Kerr.

Career of Deborah

Deborah Kerr made her stage debut in 1937 with the play ‘Harlequin and Columbine.’ In 1938, she performed with a ballet group in the ‘Sadler’s Wells Theater School’ production of ‘Prometheus.

From 1939 to 1940, she was a member of the ‘Oxford Repertory Company.’ She was offered a five-year contract and her first role was in the unscreened spy drama ‘Contraband’ in 1939.

She appeared in a film adaptation of Bernard Shaw’s play titled ‘Major Barbara’ and then starred in the 1940 film ‘Love on the Dole.’

In 1943, British director Michael Powell cast her in the film ‘The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp,’ which she appeared in three times.

In 1943, she appeared in George Bernard Shaw’s adaptation ‘Heartbreak House’ on the London stage. She toured Europe in 1945 with the play ‘Gaslight’ to entertain the British Troops. In 1947, she appeared in another British film, ‘Black Narcissus.’

She moved to Hollywood in 1947 and appeared in ‘The Hucksters’, ‘King Solomon’s Mines’, and ‘Quo Vadis’. In 1953, she starred in the films ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘From Here to Eternity.’

In 1953, she made her Broadway debut in the title role of ‘Tea and Sympathy’. In 1955, she starred in Graham Greene’s ‘The End of the Affair’ film adaptation. She reprised the role on stage in 1956 and starred in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s film adaptation of ‘The King and I’ the following year.

In 1957, she starred opposite Robert Mitchum in the film ‘Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.’ In 1957, her performance opposite Cary Grant in ‘An Affair to Remember’ cemented her popularity.

In 1958, she made her film debut in ‘Separate Tables.’ In 1959, she starred in the film ‘Beloved Infidel’ as writer Sheilah Graham. In 1960, she co-starred with Robert Mitchum in the film ‘The Sundowners.’

In 1961, she appeared in both ‘The Innocents’ and the BBC production ‘Three Roads to Rome’. She appeared in Tennessee William’s ‘The Night of the Iguana’ in 1964 and also starred in ‘The Chalk Garden’.

She co-starred in the 1968 film ‘Prudence and the Pill’ alongside David Niven and also appeared in the films ‘The Arrangement’ and ‘The Gypsy Moths’.

She appeared in the London production of ‘The Day after The Fair’ in 1972 and toured the United States with it in 1973.

In 1973, she appeared in the television film ‘A Song at Twilight.’ She made her Broadway debut in 1975 with Edward Albee’s ‘Seascape’.

She toured the United States in 1978 with the play ‘The Last of Mrs. Cheney’. In 1982, she made her television debut on CBS with ‘Witness for the Prosecution.’ In 1984, she released ‘A Woman of Substance,’ and in 1985, ‘Reunion at Fairborough.’

In 1985, she appeared on the London stage in ‘The Corn Is Green.’ In 1986, she made her final screen appearance in the television miniseries ‘Hold the Dream.’

Awards and Accomplishments

Deborah Kerr won the ‘New York Film Critics Award’ for ‘Black Narcissus’ in 1947 and was named one of the highest-earning English stars in a poll conducted by the ‘Motion Picture Herald’.

In 1948, for ‘Edward, My Son,’ she received a ‘Academy Award’ nomination and a ‘Golden Globe Award’ nomination.

In 1953, she received her second ‘Academy Award’ nomination for ‘From Here to Eternity.

In 1955, she was nominated for a ‘BAFTA Award’ for her performance in ‘The End of the Affair. In 1956, she won a ‘Golden Globe Award’ and was nominated for her third Academy Award for the film ‘The King and I.’

In 1956, she was nominated for a ‘BAFTA Award’ for the film ‘Tea and Sympathy. In 1957, for the film ‘Heaven Knows Mr. Allison,’ she received her second ‘New York Film Critics Award,’ a fourth ‘Academy Award’ nomination, and a second ‘Golden Globe Award’ nomination.

In 1958, she received her fifth Academy Award nomination and her third Golden Globe nomination for the film ‘Separate Tables.

In 1960, she was honored with a star on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame.’ Kerr won a third ‘New York Film Critics Award’ and was nominated for a sixth ‘Academy Award’ in 1960, as well as a ‘BAFTA Award’ in 1961 for the film ‘Sundowners.’

In 1964, she was nominated for a fourth ‘BAFTA Award’ for the film ‘Chalk Garden’. In 1991, she was awarded a ‘BAFTA Fellowship Award.’

In 1994, she received a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award, Honorary Oscar’. In 1997, she was awarded the ‘CBE’.

Personal History and Legacies

In 1945, she married Anthony Bartley, a war hero, but divorced him in 1959. Melanie and Francesca were her daughters from this marriage.

Following her divorce from Anthony, she married Peter Viertel, a writer. Deborah Kerr died on October 16, 2007 in Suffolk, England, at the age of 86 due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Deborah Kerr is one of only two actresses in history to have been nominated six times for a ‘Oscar Award’ but never won.

Estimated Net Worth

Deborah Kerr net worth: Deborah Kerr was a Scottish actress who died in 2007 with a net worth of $10 million. Deborah Kerr was born in September 1921 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland and died in October 2007. She appeared on stage, in films, and on television.