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Family Life

Kerr as in Star (Incomplete)

Part of the “clippings series”: Articles of which I only have found random pages and are incomplete.

[First page is missing]
Kerr as in Star[…] aristocratic features are dotfed with a hint of California freckles. When Clark Gable was originally introduced to her some months ago, he looked twice. He couldn’t believe her beauty the first time. “The most arresting thing about her,” he says, “is her constantly chang.ing ex­pression.” This, in part, is due to her great acting ability, an ability so apparent in her Brit­ish movies that American producers have been falling over themselves for the past two years in the rush to sign her. This year, M-G-M finally won the battle by buying out Gabriel Pascal. the man who discovered Deb­orah in a London restaurant, in 1940. They offered the young lady from Scotland a con­tract which is even fabulous for Hollywood: $3,000 a week, 52 weeks a year for seven years; Miss Kerr to be starred or co-starred in all films, nothing less. Needless to say, Deborah signed the con­tract. This done, she was then ordered to leave England “soonest.” as they say in the transatlantic cables; with the afterthought, “But don’t fly.”
These instructions from her new employer were quite to Deborah’s liking. Although married to Anthony Bartley, a former crack RAF pilot, she doesn’t like to fly, as a matter of fact, she doesn’t care for speed or fast living of any sort. Her idea of a perfect day is to take a long walk with her cocker span­iel, play the piano a bit, suck a few dozen lemons, and then crawl into bed with a good book. There wasn’t time for that sort of thing once she and husband Tony packed their baggage and boarded the Queen Elizabeth. A week later, Deborah Kerr was in Califor­nia and the build-up began.
A studio car met the actress and her hus­nand in Pasadena. They were driven to the Beverly Hills Hotel. . The next day, after a good night’s sleep, Deborah was introduced to the studio’s top executives. They looked and they liked. Deborah was then introduced to L.B. Mayer, head of the studio. He ordered a quick screen test. It was so successful that within three days of her arrival, she was announced as Clark Gable’s new leading lady. Now, if all this sounds like the lucky story of a lucky young actress, it’s only because I’ve left until this point the story of Deborah Kerr’s background. Whatever success she’s achieved, she’s earned only after years of grueling work. Luck happened to enter her career just long enough to give it a boost when she needed it most.
Deborah Kerr was born in Helensburgh, Scotland, a ship-building town on the river Loch Lomond. Her birth date is September 30. Her father, Charles Kerr-Trimmer, was an in­ventor, a draftsman, and a civil engineer. Her father died when she was 14 and left Deborah little but his good looks and im­agination. With her mother and younger brother, she moved to Bristol, England. Here, she attended a dramatic school run by her aunt, Phyllis Smale. She won a scholarship to a ballet school, and she studied the dance, until her weight and height made it evident that this was not her calling. “I realized then,” she says, “that my face was the only thing I had to work with.”
Deborah’s face reflects her mood so vividly that she seems to change almost physically right before your eyes. At the age of 18, she persuaded her moth­er to let her go to London in search of a job. Permission granted, she moved into the Y.W.C.A., at $7 a week; then started making the rounds. No stage producer would have her. Eventually, through a friend, she got a few walk-on parts in the Regent’s Park open­air theatre. She also read children’s stories over the radio. After a while, she dropped the “Trimmer” part of her name. By walk­ing all over London, job-hunting, she also dropped a good deal of weight.
“When the war came and the theatres were closed,” she says, “I thought there was nothing left for me but to enter a rectory.” But then came that one lucky break. She was sitting in a London restaurant one afternoon when Gabriel Pascal, the Hungarian producer-director, waddled over. “Sweet lady,” he said, “you have a spiritual face. How would you like to be in one of my pictures?” That was enough for Deborah. Given a small part in “Major Barbara,” her career was launched. In rapid order, she appeared in four more pictures, including “Love on the Dole.” This was followed by “Colonel Blimp” and “Vacation from Marriage.” In 1945, when she was entertaining troops on the Continent, love entered her life. She was introduced in Brussels to Squadron Leader Anthony Charles Bartley, eldest son of Sir Charles and Lady Bartley. The Allies were about to launch the attack into-Ger­many and Deborah never-knew whether she would see Bartley again. “We were tre­mendously attracted to one another,” she says now. “We hoped we’d meet again. They did. They were married on Novem­ber 28, 1945, in St. George’s Hanover Square Church. Not long after, came the offer to come to Hollywood. Today, being skyrocketed to stardom, Deborah Kerr, sweet and gentle as ever, man­ages to keep both her feet solidly on the ground. She has two main ambitions: a full, successful career and a full, successful fam­ily of young Bartleys.

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