Deborah Kerr Biography

Deborah Kerr
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Quick Facts

Birthday: September 30, 1921

Died At Age: 86

Sun Sign: Libra

Also Known As: Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer

Born in: Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Famous as: Actress

Actresses Theater Personalities


Spouse/Ex-: Anthony Bartley (married 1945), divorced 1959), Peter Viertel (married 1960–2007; her death)

father: Captain Arthur Kerr-Trimmer

mother: Kathleen Rose

siblings: Edmund (Teddy)

children: Christine Viertel (stepdaughter), Francesca Ann Bartley (born 1951), Melanie Jane Bartley (born 1947)

Died on: October 16, 2007

place of death: Botesdale, Suffolk, England

City: Glasgow, Scotland

Diseases & Disabilities: Parkinson's Disease

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Who was Deborah Kerr?

Deborah Kerr was one of the most famous English actresses of her time. She was born in Scotland and considered to be a real English beauty with impeccable grace and elegance, a ramrod posture honed during her training as a ballet dancer, and flame colored tresses that set her apart from other actresses. She was also called ‘The English Rose’ by her admirers. She won 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 during an acting career spread over more than 45 years. She became famous especially for her roles in ‘From Here to Eternity’ and ‘The King and I’. She was admired in the industry for her acting talent and the professional way in which she handled her roles. She was able to excel in any role from a nun to a slave with equal ease for the stage or the screen. She started as a ballet dancer but decided to become an actress instead as her five foot seven inches frame was a little too tall for a ballet dancer. She acted for the stage, the big screen and for the television.
Childhood & Early Life
Deborah Kerr was born Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer in Helensburgh, Scotland, on September 30, 1921. Her father was an army engineer named Captain Arthur Kerr-Trimmer and her mother was Kathleen Rose. She had a younger brother, Edmund (Teddy).
She started taking ballet lessons from the age of five and enrolled at the ‘St. Martha’s School’ in Surrey and then at the ‘Northumberland House Boarding School’ in Clifton, Bristol.
At the age of sixteen she attended her aunt Phyllis Smale’s ‘Hicks-Smale Drama School’ in Bristol.
She started taking part in productions at the ‘Open Air Theater’ in Regent Park, London and changed her name to Deborah Kerr.
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Deborah Kerr made her stage debut in ‘Harlequin and Columbine’ in 1937.
In 1938 she danced with a ballet group in ‘Prometheus’ produced by the ‘Sadler’s Wells Theater School’.
She acted in the ‘Oxford Repertory Company’ from 1939 to 1940.
She was offered a five-year contract and her first role was in a spy drama ‘Contraband’ in 1939 which was never screened.
She acted in a film adaption of Bernard Shaw’s work titled ‘Major Barbara’ and then in the lead role in ‘Love on the Dole’ in 1940.
British director Michael Powell gave her a role in film ‘The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp’ in 1943 in which she appeared thrice.
In 1943 she acted on the London stage in George Bernard Shaw’s adaptation ‘Heartbreak House’.
In 1945 she toured Europe with the play ‘Gaslight’ to entertain the British Troops.
She acted in another British film ‘Black Narcissus’ in 1947.
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In 1947 she moved to Hollywood where she acted in ‘The Hucksters’ in 1947, ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ in 1950 and ‘Quo Vadis’ in 1951.
She appeared in the films ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘From Here to Eternity’ in 1953.
She also made her Broadway debut in 1953 in a lead role in ‘Tea and Sympathy’.
In 1955 she acted in the film version of Graham Greene’s ‘The End of the Affair’. She re-enacted the same role on the stage in 1956 and acted in the film version of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s film version of ‘The King and I’ in the same year.
She acted in the film ‘Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison’ opposite Robert Mitchum in 1957.
‘An Affair to Remember’ in 1957 opposite Cary Grant made her immensely popular.
She appeared in ‘Separate Tables’ in 1958.
In 1959 she portrayed writer Sheilah Graham in the film ‘Beloved Infidel’.
She acted opposite Robert Mitchum in the film ‘The Sundowners’ in 1960.
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She acted in ‘The Innocents’ and also in the BBC production ‘Three Roads to Rome’ in 1961.
In 1964 she acted in Tennessee William’s ‘The Night of The Iguana’ and also starred in ‘The Chalk Garden’.
In 1968 she co-starred with David Niven in the film ‘Prudence and the Pill’ and also acted in the films ‘The Arrangement’ and ‘The Gypsy Moths’.
She starred in ‘The Day after The Fair’ on the London stage in 1972 and toured the United States with it in 1973.
She acted in television movies ‘A Song at Twilight’ in 1973.
In 1975 she appeared on the Broadway stage in Edward Albee’s ‘Seascape’.
In 1978 she toured the US with the play ‘The Last of Mrs. Cheney’.
She made her TV screen debut for CBS with ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ in 1982. She made ‘A Woman of Substance’ in 1984 and ‘Reunion at Fairborough’ in 1985.
She acted on London stage in ‘The Corn Is Green’ in 1985
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Her final screen appearance was in the TV miniseries ‘Hold the Dream’ in 1986.
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Awards & Achievements
Deborah Kerr won the ‘New York Film Critics Award’ in 1947 for ‘Black Narcissus’ and was voted one of the top earning English stars by ‘Motion Picture Herald’ poll.
She won her ‘Academy Award’ nomination and a ‘Golden Globe Award’ nomination in 1948 for ‘Edward, My Son’.
Her second ‘Academy Award’ nomination was for ‘From Here to Eternity’ in 1953.
In 1955 she got a nomination for the ‘BAFTA Award’ for ‘The End of the Affair’.
She won the ‘Golden Globe Award’ and her third ‘Academy Award’ nomination for the film ‘The King and I’ in 1956.
She won a nomination for the ‘BAFTA Award’ for the film ‘Tea and Sympathy’ in 1956.
She received her second ‘New York Film Critics Award’, a fourth ‘Academy Award’ nomination and a second ‘Golden Globe Award’ nomination for the film ‘Heaven Knows Mr. Allison’ in 1957.
She won the fifth ‘Academy Award’ nomination and the third ‘Golden Globe Award’ nomination in 1958 for the film ‘Separate Tables.
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She won a star on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’ in 1960.
Kerr won a third ‘New York Film Critics Award’ and a sixth ‘Academy Award’ nomination in 1960 and a ‘BAFTA Award’ nomination in 1961 for the film ‘Sundowners’
In 1964 she received a fourth ‘BAFTA Award’ nomination for the film ‘Chalk Garden’.
She won a ‘BAFTA Fellowship Award’ in 1991.
She was awarded a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award, Honorary Oscar’ in 1994.
She was awarded the ‘CBE’ in 1997.
Personal Life & Legacy
She married a war hero Anthony Bartley in 1945 but divorced him in 1959. She had two daughters from this marriage - Melanie and Francesca.
After divorcing Anthony she married a writer, Peter Viertel.
Deborah Kerr died age of 86 in Suffolk, England, on October 16, 2007, due to complications arising out of Parkinson’s disease.
Deborah Kerr is one of the two actresses in history who was nominated six time for ‘Oscar Award’ but could never win the award.

Deborah Kerr Movies

1. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)

  (Drama, Romance, War)

2. Black Narcissus (1947)


3. From Here to Eternity (1953)

  (War, Drama, Romance)

4. An Affair to Remember (1957)

  (Drama, Romance)

5. The Innocents (1961)


6. The Night of the Iguana (1964)


7. The King and I (1956)

  (Drama, Romance, Biography, Musical)

8. The Chalk Garden (1964)

  (Mystery, Drama)

9. Separate Tables (1958)

  (Drama, Romance)

10. Julius Caesar (1953)

  (History, Drama, Biography)


Golden Globe Awards
1959 World Film Favorite - Female Winner
1957 Best Actress - Comedy or Musical The King and I (1956)

See the events in life of Deborah Kerr in Chronological Order

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