Creator / Deborah Kerr

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Deborah Jane Kerrnote  (30 September 1921 16 October 2007) was a Scottish-born actress who specialized in playing high-souled ladies of quality and one of Hollywood's favorite redheads from the 1940s through the 1960s. She's best known for From Here to Eternity (where she had [implied] sex on the beach with Burt Lancaster); An Affair to Remember (where she fell in love with Cary Grant); and The King and I (where she fell in love with Yul Brynner). Her first leading role was the triple one of the three women loved by the title character of Michael Powell and Emmeric Pressburger's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, but she really shot to stardom in Powell and Pressburger's Black Narcissus, about nuns who struggle with, er, "carnal desires" in a former harem in India. Kerr was the queen of Oscar snubs, as she was nominated six times and never won.


Some films in which Deborah Kerr appeared include:


Tropes associated with her works:

  • Adam Westing: She poked fun at her stuffy English Rose persona in Casino Royale (1967).
  • Award Snub: invoked Six times she was nominated for an Oscar and never won. In the 90s they presented her with an honorary Oscar for her contribution to film.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: invoked
    • From Here to Eternity is a respected war picture among film buffs. But its most memorable detail is the steamy kiss on the beach between Deborah and Burt Lancaster.
    • The Gypsy Moths is remembered for her appearing nude at the age of 47.
  • Colbert Bump: invoked When An Affair to Remember was shown during Sleepless in Seattle, it enjoyed a surge in popularity through video rentals in the 90s - something she was quite pleased about.
  • Contractual Purity: She said in an interview that Hollywood expected its ladies to have no sense of humour, and as such she found herself often playing Proper Lady characters - princesses, nuns, governesses and ladies. Avoiding this trope was the reason she did the steamy beach scene in From Here to Eternity - and although she got many more costume drama roles, she credits the film with helping shake up her image. She invoked it by poking fun at herself while posing in a swimsuit to promote the film, saying "I feel naked without my tiara".
  • Creator Backlash: invoked She referred to many of her Proper Lady costume drama roles as "poke her up the ass parts".
  • Dawson Casting: invoked In The Innocents Miss Giddens is meant to be a young governess on her first job (and is only nineteen or twenty in the novella the film's based on). Deborah was forty when the film was made.
  • Deleted Role: invoked Her first role was in the film Contraband but all her scenes were cut.
  • Fake American: invoked In From Here to Eternity as Karen Holmes.
  • Fake Brit: invoked Technically. She was Scottish but her I Am Very British way of speaking led to her playing English characters.
  • Fake Irish: invoked As Sister Angela in Heaven Knows Mr Allison. Technically as Sister Clodagh in Black Narcissus too, though she's Not Even Bothering with the Accent.
  • Funny Character, Boring Actor: invoked Inverted. Usually typecast as high-minded, long-suffering ladies of various periods. In real life she was reportedly very goofy and fun-loving.
  • I Am Not Spock: invoked Robert Mitchum reportedly thought she would be like the prim and proper characters she played. During one scene in Heaven Knows Mr Allison, she swore at the director - and he almost drowned laughing.
  • I Am Very British: Her voice was naturally this, which was probably the reason she did so many period movies.
  • Loads and Loads of Roles: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp has her playing three different characters in the titular Colonel's life.
  • Non-Singing Voice: invoked In The King and I, dubbed by Marni Nixon. Nixon had been warned not to say anything as usual, but Kerr felt this wasn't right and went to the papers to talk about her singing double.
  • Playing Against Type: invoked From Here to Eternity had her playing a Fake American trophy wife unhappy in her marriage that has an affair with a Pearl Harbor soldier.
  • Playing with Character Type: invoked As a proper governess in The Innocents...who may or may not be going mad and with a questionable relationship to a young boy. Also in King Solomon's Mines, as a Proper Lady thrown into the African wilderness - and needs an Adrenaline Makeover to get by.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: What her hair was usually up in considering the type of characters she played.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Sported a lot of this in many of her period films - The Innocents, The King and I, King Solomon's Mines (at first anyway).
  • Reclusive Artist: invoked She retired from films in the late 1960s and lived a quiet life afterwards. She made one more public appearance at the 1994 Oscars, where she was presented with an honorary award. That was considered her official goodbye to Hollywood and she remained under the radar until her death in 2007.
  • Star-Making Role: invoked Black Narcissus brought her to the attention of Hollywood, though it had the effect of typecasting her as an English Rose.
  • Those Two Actors: invoked
    • She was the favorite leading lady of Robert Mitchum, who co-starred with her in four movies: Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), The Sundowners (1960), The Grass is Greener (1960), and Reunion at Fairborough (1985).
    • She also did a lot of films with Jean Simmons.
  • Type Casting: She played a lot of: invoked
    • English Rose Proper Lady - In her early films.
    • Governesses - The King and I, The Innocents, The Chalk Garden
    • Nuns - Black Narcissus, Heaven Knows Mr Alison
    • She was versatile enough to get plenty of other parts after a while, though. Overall a lot of her characters were delicate or refined, who went through harrowing experiences.
  • What Could Have Been: invoked She really wanted to star in The African Queen, but the studio refused - as she had just done a similar role in King Solomon's Mines - and it went to Katharine Hepburn instead. Nobody is exactly sorry about this, as Hepburn did a bang-up job, but still, you have to wonder...

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