Universal Studios Rescued by Teen Star's 'Miracle Movies'

Deanna Durbin ‘saves’ Universal (photo: Deanna Durbin in Three Smart Girls) [See previous post: "Deanna Durbin: Remembering One of Hollywood's Top Stars."] During the Great Depression most Hollywood studios were in dire financial straits, until, as the story goes, one (or more) lucky star(s) made them once again solvent. Mae West is credited for "saving" Paramount; Shirley Temple "saved" Fox; the Busby Berkeley, Ruby Keeler, and Dick Powell combo "saved" Warner Bros.; and the curious mix of King Kong, Fred Astaire, and Ginger Rogers "saved" Rko. So, did Deanna Durbin truly save Universal from bankruptcy? Well, Charles Rogers’ investment company came to the financial rescue of Universal in 1936, but the success of Durbin’s movies surely helped the new management get the studio back on its feet. For instance, according to author David Shipman, Three Smart Girls cost $300,000 — its budget doubled after studio bosses realized they had a hit in their hands — and earned Universal a hefty $2m. (An unspecified
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