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This Day in WWII 20 April 1940 - 1945 *1889


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USRubber2-April1945.jpg United States Rubber Ad - April 1945

1940: Danish Army demobilized.

1941: British forces in Greece retreat from Mt. Olympus. King George II heads new Greek government.

DeannaDurbin1.jpg **Deanna Durbin

1942: An assassination attempt on Doriol, head of the French Fascists fails. Pierre Laval, the premier of Vichy France, in a radio broadcast, establishes a policy of "true reconciliation with Germany."

1942: In a reprisal for Resistance sabotage of German troop trains, the Germans execute thirty French hostages at Rouen. The next day, twenty more hostages are killed at St. Nazaire.

DeannaDurbin2.jpg Deanna Durbin

1942: Adolf Hitler plans the German summer offensive, but the first priority is to remove the Barvenkovo salient in the Ukraine, which is gives the Russian a springboard to retake Kharkov, or turn South and retake the Ukraine. General Friedrich Paulus, a tall, ascetic Prussian staff officer, draws up the plans for an panzer offensive to pinch out this salient. Amazingly, the Russian are simultaneously planning their own offensive out of the salient.

1942: The US aircraft-carrier Wasp delivers 46 Spitfires to Malta as reinforcement, although such is the intensity of the axis air onslaught (9,599 sorties in April), that almost all these aircraft had been destroyed on the ground within 3 days.

DeannaDurbin3.jpg Deanna Durbin

1942: German Jews are banned from using public transportation.

1942: As a result of the Doolittle raid on Japan, the Japanese decide that Operation 'Mi' must take place as soon as possible, while plans to capture Samoa, Fiji and New Caledonia are to be postponed.

USRubber3-April1945.jpg United States Rubber Ad - April 1945

1943: The limited recruitment of women into the Home Guard is announced in Britain.

1943: The Jewish uprising in Warsaw triggers a massive German response and initiates a month long massacre of the 60,000 Jews in the ghetto.

1943: The Americans announce that their airmen captured in the 'Doolittle Raid' on Tokyo were beheaded by Japanese.

DeannaDurbin4.jpg Deanna Durbin

1944: Colonel General Hans V. Hube, whose hard-charging aggressiveness on the Eastern Front had made him one of Hitler's favorites, is killed when his plane crashes on takeoff from Berchtesgaden on the return trip to his command after offering the Fuhrer birthday greetings. Grief-stricken at losing such an outstanding commander, Hitler orders a state funeral for Hube in the Reich Chancellery in Berlin.

1945: The British Home Secretary says that 60,585 British civilians have died and 86,175 have been seriously injured in air attacks since outbreak of war.

1945: The U.S. Seventh Army takes Nuremberg.

DeannaDurbin5.jpg Deanna Durbin

1945: The U.S. Fifth Army reaches the Po river Plain in northern Italy as a German retreat to river ordered.

1945: Russian artillery begins to shell Berlin. The Germans desperately counterattack both North and South of Frankfurt an der Oder. A Furious battles takes place at Sternbeck and Protzel. In Czechoslovakia the Russian pressure increases at Moravska-Ostrava and Brno.

*1889: Adolf Hitler, the Nazi dictator of Germany who led his country into World War II and was responsible for persecuting millions of Jews, was born.

DeannaDurbin6.jpg Deanna Durbin

**Deanna Durbin was born Edna Mae Durbin on December 4, 1921, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her British-born parents moved to California while she was still young, and her singing voice soon had talent scouts knocking at her door. She signed a contract with MGM in 1936, at the age of 14, which resulted in her appearance in "Every Sunday" (1936), a short that also starred Judy Garland. Deanna was dropped by MGM but was immediately picked up by Universal Pictures, which cast her in the role of Penny Craig in "Three Smart Girls" (1936). While preparing for the role she was coached intensely by director Henry Koster; it's doubtful she would have been the star she was had it not been for Koster. The profits from this film and its follow-up, "One Hundred Men and a Girl" (1937), rescued Universal from bankruptcy. The studio quickly capitalized on these hits, casting Deanna in two successive and highly acclaimed films, "That Certain Age" (1938) and "Mad About Music" (1938). With these films Deanna became Hollywood's darling. She reprised her role of Penny Craig in "Three Smart Girls Grow Up" (1939). Deanna was such a hit that she shared the Academy Award's 1939 Juvenile Award with Mickey Rooney "for their significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth, and as juvenile players, setting high standards of ability and achievement". Deanna's singing and acting ability had the world talking. There was no doubt she was the most popular performer of her day. She was, however, by nature a very private individual, never comfortable with the glitz, glamor and publicity that came with stardom. Despite her uneasiness, she continued to churn out hits and kept the public enthralled. In 1943 she played Penny Craig again, for the third time, in "Hers to Hold" (1943). Deanna's final film was "For the Love of Mary" (1948), whereupon, at the age of 27, she simply walked away. For a star of her stature, that took a tremendous amount of courage. All she wanted was to be anonymous. Today Deanna lives in France, just outside Paris, with her third husband, French director Charles David, whom she wed in 1950. She has had numerous offers to return to the screen and has turned them all down. She has not even been interviewed since 1949. According to a family friend, Durbin died on or about April 20 in Neauphle-le-Château, France.

TRIVIA:

Was an option to play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939).

By twenty-one, she was the highest-paid woman in the United States and highest-paid female film star in the World.

Deanna Durbin dolls existed along with many other types of merchandising in the 1940s.

Universal Pictures top star in the 1940s where she was paid $400,000 per film. She is reported as the star who saved the company.

Tried for the voice of Snow White in Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) but Disney himself rejected her, claiming she sounded "too mature." She was 14 at the time.

She was sought for the female leads of the original Broadway productions of both Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's "Oklahoma!" (1943) and Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's "My Fair Lady" (1956). Universal refused to loan her for Oklahoma! and she turned down the lead in My Fair Lady (after Lerner personally came to her home to audition the songs for her) because, as she said later, "I had my ticket for Paris in my pocket."

She was the number one female box office star in Britain for the years 1939- 1942 inclusive. She was so popular that in 1942 a seven day "Deanna Durbin Festival" was held during which her films were screened exclusively on the Odeon Theatre Circuit throughout Britain, a feat that has never been duplicated for any other star. According to reports from the BBC over the past three decades, it receives more requests from the public for Durbin's films and recordings, than for those of any other star of Hollywood's Golden Age.

She was Holocaust victim Anne Frank's favorite movie star. There are two pictures of Durbin on Anne's "Movie Wall" in the secret annex in Amsterdam where Frank and her family hid from the Nazis.

In 1941, Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini published an open letter to Durbin in his official newspaper, "Il Popolo", asking her to intercede with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on behalf of American youth to dissuade him from becoming involved in Word War II. She didn't.

She was Prime Minister Winston Churchill's favorite movie star. He reportedly insisted that he be permitted to screen her films privately before they were released to the public in Britain, and would often screen her film One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937) to celebrate British victories during World War II. He considered her "a formidable talent."

Personal Quotes:

"I couldn't go on forever being Little Miss Fixit who burst into song."

"Just as Hollywood pin-up represents sex to dissatisfied erotics, so I represented the ideal daughter millions of fathers and mothers wished they had." - 1959

CamelCigarettes-April1945.jpg Camel Cigarette Ad - April 1945

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