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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 October 2007, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Obituary: Deborah Kerr
Deborah Kerr
Deborah Kerr was nominated for six Academy Awards
Actress Deborah Kerr, who appeared in almost 50 films, was often regarded as the actress who, more than any other, successfully exported her Britishness to Hollywood.

Her image was of a refined, lady-like and level-headed person - the perfect English rose. She never liked the image, not least because she was born in Scotland.

Within a few years, her family moved to the south of England, and she went to boarding school in Bristol. At first she studied for the ballet, but then decided on acting.

An aunt taught drama in Bristol, and it was from her that she learned her stagecraft. Just before World War II, she had walk-on parts at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park in London.

Kerr in Black Narcissus
Kerr's role in Black Narcissus led to a Hollywood contract
A film agent saw her, and by the time she was 20, Kerr had played important parts in three films including Major Barbara and Love on the Dole.

She was then in two of the most successful wartime British films, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and Perfect Strangers.

Shortly after the war, she gave a sensitive performance as a nun in Black Narcissus. She was signed up by MGM and went to Hollywood on a 750-a-week contract.

Initially her roles were almost all typecast as the world's idea of an elegant Englishwoman, but soon she showed that her range was considerably wider.

All I had to do in Hollywood was be high-minded, long-suffering, white-gloved and decorative
Deborah Kerr
The image of gentility took a knock in 1953 in From Here to Eternity when, as a lusting wife, she rolled in the surf with Burt Lancaster in what was, for the time, a tempestuous love scene.

Her performances earned her an Oscar nomination. In various films, she played opposite Frank Sinatra, Yul Brynner and Cary Grant.

She received five further Oscar nominations for her performances in Edward My Son, The King and I, The End of the Affair, Heaven Knows Mr Allison, Separate Tables and The Sundowners.

On the stage, she gave a notable performance on Broadway in 1953 in Tea and Sympathy - a role she repeated on the screen.

As Anna in The King and I
Deborah Kerr appeared opposite Yul Brynner in The King and I
After a period of retirement, she returned to acting, most notably in 1985's The Assam Garden.

In 1994, in poor health, she was the most touching participant in the Oscars ceremony, receiving an honorary award to make up for her six unrewarded nominations.

She was twice married, first just after the war to a Battle of Britain pilot. They had two daughters and the marriage was dissolved in 1959.

Since 1960, she moved to Switzerland with her second husband, US scriptwriter Peter Viertel.

Moments from Deborah Kerr's most celebrated films

British actress Kerr dies at 86
18 Oct 07 |  Entertainment

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