THE SMILE was always real and the blue eyes could make you feel alone in a theater when the clear voice of Deanna Durbin told you she loved you, and made your adolescence livable for 90 minutes.
The residents of the small village of Neauple le Chateau outside Paris know a celebrity lives among them but they protest her desire for privacywith a glove of ignorance.
"Deanna is alive and well," said her husband, film director Charles Henri Davis, "but she does want to talk to the press."
Deanna Durbin was born in Winnepeg, Canada, Dec. 4, 1922. She was christened Edna Mae, by her English-born parents, Ada (Read) Durbin and father James.
When Edna Mae was a year old ill health forced her father to move the family to Southern California.
James Durbin went into the real estate business and had no idea of a movie career for his daughter until older daughter Edith graduated from the University of California and took a job teaching dramatics. She used part of her salary to pay for Deanna's singing lessons.
In 1935 MGM officials were having trouble finding a girl to play the part of Madam Schumann-Heink as a child and spread the word to actors' agents to help.
Through a friend, an agent heard about Deanna singing at a neighborhood party. An audition was arranged and a contract signed, but picture was called off when Schumann-Heink became ill, and the contract was cancelled.
Deanna had begun to make public appearances and picked up some local following when she sang on aradio show. Universal Pictures eventually signed her to a $300-a-week contract.
Her first movie was "The Smart Girls," directed and produced by Koster and Pasternak.
While that film was in production, radio superstar Eddie Cantor signed her to his radio show, where she immediately became a star and one of his "discoveries."
In her next movie, "100 Men and a Girl," she appeared with Leopold Stokowski and the two became lasting friends.
There was then a series of 10 consecutive box-office hits as the young star lifted Universal Pictures out of the red.
In 1938 she played in "Mad About Music," and at age 16 she won an Oscar for the best junior screen performance. She grew up in "First Love" and "It's a Date" and in 1941 had a serious love scene with Franchot Tone in "Nice Girl."
When co-starred with Charles Laughton in "It Started With Eve," moviegoers discovered that Deanna had a flair for light comedy.
The 56-year-old Deanna now lives in an old farm-house with her third husband and has two children, Jessica, by her second husband, producer Felix Jackson, and Peter, by her present marriage.
She does all her own shopping, cleaning and cooking and seems to enjoy the quiet life this small village offers, but has assiduously kept herself out of the public eye.