Supporting Players

Eddie Cantor

Eddie Cantor (1892-1964) was a singer and comedian in vaudeville and on stage and a radio and film star. Cantor grew up an orphan in New York's Lower East Side, raised by his grandmother.

 

After winning an amateur night competition at a local theater, Cantor worked his way up to become one of the biggest vaudeville stars of all time. Cantor, always on the lookout for new talent, launched Deanna to fame on his  radio show, "Texaco Town".

Joe Pasternak

Born to a Jewish family in Szilágysomlyó, Austria-Hungary, Pasternak was a successful film producer in Germany and Austria by the time he was 28 years old, making German-language musicals for the international market. He hit upon a successful formula, building light musical comedies around an adolescent soprano (Franciska Gaal).

Following the establishment of the Nazi regime, Pasternak emigrated to the United States.

At Universal's Hollywood studio in 1936. Pasternak cast 14-year-old Canadian singer Deanna Durbin in Three Smart Girls (1936). The film became a huge hit and reputedly saved Universal from bankruptcy.

Ernestine Schumann-Heink

Ernestine Schumann-Heink was an Austrian contralto who was one of the principal interpreters of the operas of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss before the outbreak of World War I.

In her prime she was considered the greatest contralto in the world.

 

Her powerful, rich voice of remarkable range, her command of the grand manner, and her personal warmth and manifest kindliness made her a favourite with audiences for nearly a half century. Deann was first hired by MGM to play the role of young Schumann-Heink in the movie, Gran.

Henry Koster

Flexible studio talent who began his career as a critic, becoming a scenarist in 1926 and a director in 1932. Leaving Germany the year Hitler took power, Koster made several films in Europe before going to Hollywood.

 

His US debut with "Three Smart Girls" (1937), the first in a series of Deanna Durbin vehicles, was a resounding success and helped bolster the straitened Universal studios.

© 2020 by Melanie Gall