Few women stars of the Cladrite Era starred in more iconic motion pictures than Deborah Kerr, born 94 years ago today in Helensburgh, Scotland. The list is an impressive one: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), Black Narcissus (1947), From Here to Eternity (1953), Tea And Sympathy (1956), The King and I (1956), and Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), to name just a few.
And yet, in our sometimes foggy recollection, it seems she played primarily two disparate types of roles (mind you, we haven’t done the math on this): nuns and adulterous wives.
Kerr’s low-key elegance is still quite appealing, though we fear that, considering how big a name she once was, her star has fallen more than many others of her time. And that’s a shame. She was supremely talented—at six, she holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations for Best Actress without a win (she was, thankfully, finally awarded an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar)—and she seems to been a person of principles as well: She was patron of Britain’s National Society of Clean Air and Environmental Protection from 1992 until her death in 2007.
Happy birthday, Ms. Kerr, wherever you may be.