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When Icons Bid Adieu: Screen Legends Who Died in 2013

The passing of 2013 also meant good-byes to a number of the already-handful screen legends we have today. 

Deanna Durbin (December 4, 1921 – c. April 20, 2013) 

Deanna Durbin
Deanna Durbin wowed Depression- and World War II-era moviegoers with her “sweet, soprano voice” and for her depiction of the ideal teenage daughter in films such as Three Smart Girls (1936). In 1938, together with Mickey Rooney, she was honored with a Juvenile performer Academy Award for her “significant contribution in bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth …” Deanna walked out from Hollywood by 1950, still at the height of her career. She remained a recluse until her death. 

Esther Williams (August 8, 1921 – June 6, 2013) 

Esther Williams
Dubbed as the “Million-Dollar Mermaid,” Esther Williams wasn’t just a popular star of the 1940s, she was also an accomplished swimmer. She was one of the biggest box-office stars of the 1940s, appearing watery MGM extravaganzas, such as Bathing Beauty (1944), Neptune’s Daughter (1949), Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) and Jupiter’s Darling (1955). 

Elliott Reid (January 16, 1920 – June 21, 2013) 

Elliott Reid (with Pat Conway)
Character actor Elliott Reid had his share of fame after playing the role of Ernie Malone, private detective who spied on Marilyn Monroe's character only to fall in love with Jane Russell’s role in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). 

Barbara Lawrence (February 24, 1930 – November 13, 2013) 

Barbara Lawrence
Barbara Lawrence is perhaps best-remembered for portraying the role of Gertie Cummins in Oklahoma! (1953) in which she got into a catfight with Gloria Grahame’s role. 

Eleanor Parker (June 26, 1922 – December 9, 2013) 

Eleanor Parker
Dubbed as the “Woman with the Thousand Faces” for her versatility, Eleanor Parker was hugely praised for her ease in portraying various characters in drama, comedy, or horror. She earned the raves of critics for her Oscar-nominated performances as a prison inmate in Caged (1950), a detective’s wife in Detective Story (1951), and Marjorie Lawrence in the biopic Interrupted Melody (1955). However, her most unforgettable role was a supporting one, as the marriage-minded baroness in The Sound of Music (1965). 

Peter O'Toole (August 2, 1932 –December 14, 2013) 

Peter O'Toole
Considered one of the best English actors of his generation, Peter O’Toole earned overnight fame with, in the words of New York Times, “a hell-raising streak” of a performance in Lawrence of Arabia. The performance earned him his first Oscar nomination and he continued his career with seven more nominations for the following films: Becket (1964), The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), The Ruling Class (1972), The Stunt Man (1980), My Favorite Year (1982) and Venus (2006). Together with Richard Burton, he held the record of having the most Oscar nomination for best actor without a single win, although he was honored with an Honorary Oscar in 2003. 

Joan Fontaine (October 22, 1917 – December 15, 2013) 

Joane Fontaine
Throughout the 30s, Joan Fontaine managed to play lackluster parts until her performance in The Women and Gunga Din (both 1939) gave her to opportunity to somewhat showcase her acting prowess. However, her most stellar—and near Oscar-winning moment—came when she played as the haunted second wife in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940). She won the Oscar for another Hitchcock vehicle, Suspicion (1941), and saw her career thrive in Jane Eyre (1944), The Constant Nymph (1943), for which she earned her third Oscar nomination, A Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948), Ivanhoe (1952); and Island in the Sun (1957). Fontaine’s personal spat with her sister, Olivia de Havilland was also the talk of Hollywood to this day.  The two never fully reconciled.


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