Bookmarks: Fringe Actress Melanie Gall’s Story of Hollywood’s Golden Child

Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland and the Golden Age of Hollywood tells the story of Canada’s lost silver screen superstar.

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She was the most popular movie star of her time, one of the highest paid people in America in the 1940s, and left behind a string of incredibly popular films. Yet Deanna Durbin rarely gets her due, forgotten among the other shining lights of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Local author and actress Melanie Gall is trying to change that.

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Gall tells the story of Durbin’s rise from humble Winnipeg beginnings to megawatt movie star in her new book, Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland and the Golden Age of Hollywood. Durbin and his family moved to Los Angeles in the 1920s so his father could escape the scorching cold of Winnipeg and recover his health in the warmer climate of California.

For Deanna, it would be a fortuitous move: first singing lessons, then a signing with MGM and then Universal Studios. She made her big screen debut in 1937 with Three Smart Girls and became an overnight sensation.

The press adored her, the fans adored her, and her films were incredibly successful. By 1941, she was earning over $200,000 a year, such a large salary that was almost unheard of at the time. Then, in the early 1950s, she simply slipped out of Hollywood.

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“She dropped off the card and she did it on purpose,” Gall says. “I just think people loved her so much and didn’t want to think badly of her.”

Gall, singer and performer, divides her time between Saint-Albert, where she grew up, and New York. She previously wrote a show on Durbin called Ingenue.

“I did the show and it went incredibly well. It got an off-broadway run. I always thought, ‘Hey, I should write a book,’ Gall says. “Then the pandemic hit and people were always like, ‘Are you going to write a book about this?'”

With health restrictions lifted, Gall finds himself touring again, performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She performed at the Edmonton Fringe Festival in 2021 and plans to return in the future.

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Gall’s book Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland and the Golden Age of Hollywood was published July 1 by Lyons Press. Learn more about the author at melaniegall.com.

A personal perspective on the pandemic

A little self-reflection is what an Edmonton author brings to a new book from the University of Alberta Press.

Amy Kaler puts her own personal twist on her pandemic experience in Until Further Notice: A Year in a Pandemic, released earlier this month. Thoughts, emotions, habits: they all fall under the microscope and are subject to observation. She also shares how the pandemic has forced her to become more engaged with her community and her city’s natural spaces, two bright spots in an otherwise horrific mess.

Kaler is a professor of sociology at the University of Alberta and you can find the book at uap.ualberta.ca.

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Five Lives as the Roman Empire Falls

Best-selling author and former Edmontonian Emma Hooper has released a new novel of historical fiction.

We Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Heaven, released August 9 by Penguin Random House Canada, is set during the height of the Roman Empire. Five girls living in a village in Portugal are abducted by the army, forced to confront the secrets of their past and go their separate ways to fight their own battles.

Hooper’s first book, Etta and Otto and Russel and James, was an international bestseller and his second, Our Homesick Songs, was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

To learn more about the author, go to emmahooper.ca.

New mystery from an award-winning writer

Local novelist Kate Boorman published a new young adult novel in late July.

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Into the Sublime, published by Henry Holt and Company, is the story of four girls from a former thrill-seeking group who plan an adventure to a lake the locals call the Sublime. It is shrouded in mystery and supposedly has the power to change things for those who risk its depths, at least for those who survive.

Into the Sublime is Boorman’s fifth novel. Her first, Winterkill published in 2014, won the Writers’ Guild of Alberta’s R. Ross Annett Children’s Literature Award.

To learn more about the author, go to kateaboorman.com.

Indigenous journalist publishes his memoirs

“I am a survivor of the genocide against indigenous women and girls. Now I have a voice as a rising journalist who is determined to right the wrongs against my people.

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This quote is from Brandi Morin, whose new memoir, Our Voice of Fire, was published earlier this month by House of Anansi Press.

It documents his journey from an adopted child on the run who fell victim to predatory men to his career as an internationally renowned journalist, overcoming adversity and finding purpose in life.

Morin lives in Stony Plain, and she has been featured in The New York Times, The Toronto Star, and The Guardian, among other publications.

Find the book, visit houseofanansi.com.

New work by an internationally renowned Indigenous poet

Award-winning painter, photographer, and writer Frederick R. McDonald has a new book of poetry.

In his new book Dreams and Journeys, published Aug. 27 by Harbor Publishing, McDonald explores the interplay between dreams and experience, how we influence our dreams, and how those dreams can change our journeys.

Her poetry explores what it means to be a member of the Fort McKay First Nation, while being part of the larger Canadian society that has persecuted Indigenous peoples for generations.

Learn more about the author and artist at frederickrmcdonaldindigenous.art.

yegarts@postmedia.com

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