Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Remembering and loss

Yesterday, the media reported that actress Deanna Durbin died. She was 91.

It's a death that saddens me.

I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of Americans had no idea who Deanna Durbin was. Even though she was an extremely popular child actress in the 30s and 40s, her retirement from the industry in 1949 and subsequent silence took her enough out of the public eye to pretty much guarantee that the only people who would recognize her name were film lovers.

What makes me sad isn't just how she is sliding into a footnote of film history. It's the bigger picture, how so many people probably aren't even aware of her contribution, how easy it is to be forgotten even when you've imprinted your creations on the consciousness of so many. It's hitting me particularly hard since I'm writing about an aging actor right now, someone who's done everything he can to escape his past and yet can't forget it, someone who fought for his career and still is even after fifty years in the business.

It's inevitable, of course. Only the tiniest percentage of people become known on a wide scale for any length of time. We are remembered by those we touch, whether they be few or many.

Perhaps I'm all contemplative about this because of the loss I suffered last year, too.

I'm going to have a Deanna Durbin marathon this weekend. I hope my kids watch with me. I would love to think I've been able to help her be remembered. Even in a small way.