Someone has just added her 1943 film, His Butler's Sister
, to Youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=B9ex4QG2fH4
I think Deanna may have had tremendous self-confidence as a performer from the first. For instance, Eddie Cantor, recalling her audition for his radio program in 1936, said that, as they walked across the CBS radio studio complex to a rehearsal hall as stopping him and saying: "Mr. Cantor, if you're at all nervous about playing for me, don't be, because I'll be right with you." He later recalled her audition as "remarkable" and said that she was "as sure and confident in her material and presentation as any performer I've ever seen," adding "And Oh, how she sang!
." She also seems completely at ease and natural in both her spoken introductory patter with Wallace Beery (from most published reports, hardly a performer to put a neophyte child at ease!) and her song ("One Night of Love") in her December 1935 debut (as "Edna May Durbin") on MGM's radio show The Shell Chateau Hour
On the other hand, there are accounts which contradict recollections like Cantor's, such as Henry Koster's that, when Deanna was brought in to meet him for casting in Three Smart Girls
, she ultimately burst into tears and sobbed: "I don't want to be a movie star. I want to be an opera singer. You're all torturing me!" At this same interview, Joe Pasternak also recalls Deanna as being quite shy and close-mouthed (but says nothing about the emotional outburst Koster recalled).
Of course, this seeming disparity between Deanna's private and performing demeanors is not unheard of in other performers. Jean Arthur, for example, was by most accounts a nervous wreck off camera, awkward and ill-at-ease at any event that called for socalizing and public performance, yet was completely focused and self-assured when it came to shooting her film assignments.
Deanna herself has stated that she was not "a ham" when it came to performing, yet has also acknowledged that her family often stated she "didn't have a nervous bone in her body."
I must say, I've always found her self-confidence and assurance on camera remarkable. Unlike the majority of her much more professionally seasoned peers like Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and Donald O'Connor, she had none of the extensive background in performance in training that would explain her lack of jitters before the camera, yet she comes across as assured and confident as any of them, and more so than many other film performers.