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Family Life,  Interviews

The Quiet Life of a Great Lady (1991)

Translation of “La vida tranquila de una gran dama”
Carlos Picasso – Lecturas 1991
Given the persistent rumors about an alleged serious disease of the great Hollywood star, Deborah Kerr, and in order to know the truth about her health, we went to chat with the famous actress. Deborah Kerr granted us an exclusive interview at her idyllic retreat in Marbella, where she spends a long time, being close to the nature that she loves so much in the company of her husband Peter Viertel, who pampered and protected her all the time, her cat Kitty and domestic service.
We’re greeted with a smile and we are captivated instantly, with her simplicity, delicacy and a spiritual beauty very rare to find. In the same way she’s done on the big screen through the years for millions of viewers worldwide.
Deborah Kerr is a wonderful woman, mother of two daughters and grandmother of three grandchildren. In September she will be seventy years old. And she still retains the beauty and great sense of humor that got her through stardom in the 50s and 60s.
We began our interview sitting comfortably on the terrace, where the great celluloid diva spends long hours reading and also lost in her memories. In the wonderful peace and quiet, where only the singing of the birds and the rustle of the wind are heard, is where she shares her time with the few visitors they have and some close friends.
– We are alarmed by the news that you suffer from a serious illness, could tell us whether it is true?
– First of all I appreciate the concern, but my condition is not severe, is only a problem that results from age and affects women more than men.
– What is your problem?
– I have arthritis, which affects my hip and I can have surgery, but I don’t want to, unless absolutely necessary. I can say that with total conviction. And thank God I have nothing serious … Yet! (Laughs heartily), in any case, I’ll knock on wood!
– It was possibly your absence from public events what fed the rumors … When was the last time you attended any of these events?
– When I joined the jury at the European Film Festival in Glasgow, the place I was born, and where Carmen Maura awarded as best actress for her work in “Ay, Carmela!”.
– How did it feel to return to the city of your birth?
– It was wonderful! Glasgow has become a wonderful city, of a cultural recognition hard to believe. In a town that was full of crime and gangsters this change is extraordinary.
– What are the childhood memories that you have from Glasgow?
– Almost none, because when I was three, my parents and I left to Bristol where we had family.
– And do you remember your stay there?
– Living in the country I have always liked. I love animals and my first ambition was to become a veterinary but this vocation did not take long to be replaced by that of being a dancer, and later an actress.
– When did you know or realized that your particular sensitivity pointed you towards the performing arts?
– I think it was through my aunt, my mother’s sister. She was an excellent actress, who never moved from the city of Bristol, and had a small academy of ballet and declamation. All I could do later in the theater and film has come from that. And I firmly believe that everything was in my blood: My mother played the piano and my grandfather had a wonderful voice. We were a very artistic family.
– Are you an ambitious woman?
– Not really, my ambition was limited to what I wanted to do and towards learning things about my profession.
– Is there anything you would like to erase or change in your life?
– This is a very difficult question to answer. Only one or two things, but I really don’t want to mention them for they are very personal.
– What were the fundamental changes in your life?
– My first opportunity to go to Hollywood was the most important. I never dreamed as a child, when I went to the movies regularly, that I would reach the Mecca of Cinema. The other one was the first time I traveled to New York to do theater. I’ve been very fortunate.
– And what were your best moments personally?
– Being a mother and meeting Peter.
– Her husband tells us that he had worked all his life in film as a writer, like his father before him: “I was lucky to be hired to work in a movie called” The Journey “which was filmed in 1958 and where Deborah starred. She was already a big star at the time, but she was also still married. Two years later she divorced, and shortly after we were married”.
– What has been the most important role that you’ve had to play in your personal life?
– Being a reasonably good mother. I always tried not to mix my professional life with my daughters. When I crossed the door of my house I was simply “Mummy.”
– Peter, how have you managed to get along so well?
– It was not as difficult as it might seem. We both had our careers, our work. She made at least ten movies after getting married. I tried to advise her in relation to the scripts, but Deborah always made her own decisions about the films in which she wanted to act.
– Deborah, what do you think of what Peter said?
– I see it slightly different: We are completely different, I do not play tennis or golf and I’m almost completely useless in the kitchen. He however is wonderfully good at these things. We complement each other perfectly.
– Peter, how would you define your living together in the last thirty years?
– We have tried to solve all problems together and trying to be very tolerant, especially Deborah; I can assure you that she has been a better wife than I’ve been a good husband. She is, believe it or not, a very shy person, a lover of solitude, and I am a very gregarious person, so we complement each other quite well.
– How have you managed to stay out of Hollywood’s gossiping and to be so dear, so happy and normal?
– As soon as I left the studio I left Deborah – the actress behind. I never mixed the two. When I got home I was the mother and wife, and I’ve always been myself.
– But you were very young when you began your career …
– Yes, but I had a strong education and formation on family values.
– What are your deepest beliefs?
– Always think about other people with love. In order to be loved you have to give everything to those around us. The kindness and simplicity are very important too, what I fear the most is the violence that plagues the world today.
– How would you like to be remembered?
– As a good actress and a good person.
– What was your first impression of Spain and why did you decide to live here?
– I fell in love with Spain almost instantly. We used to go to Biarritz and San Juan de Luz, until one day we crossed the border and saw the care of its people, their quality and their lust for life. But it was Peter and the golf course we have next door the ones truly responsible for our staying here.
– What is happiness to you?
– For me happiness is having a wonderful family and being loved.

One Comment

  • cuckoo4kitties

    That was truly beautiful. I am always so in awe of the love and respect Deborah & Peter had for one another.
    Thank you, Faith, for sharing it.

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