Deborah Kerr originally trained as a ballet dancer, first appearing on stage at Sadler's Wells in 1938. After changing careers, she soon found success as an actress. Her first acting teacher was her aunt, Phyllis Smale, who ran the Hicks-Smale Drama School in Bristol.
Kerr's first film role was in the British film Contraband (1940), however her scenes were left on the cutting room floor.
Deborah Kerr made her film debut in Major Barbara (1940).
Her most notable movies, in addition to her Oscar nominated roles below, include The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), The Hucksters (1947), Black Narcissus (1947), King Solomon's Mines (1950), Tea and Sympathy (1956), and An Affair to Remember (1957).
She was nominated six times for an Academy Award for Best Actress for Edward My Son (1949), From Here to Eternity (1953), The King and I (1956), Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), Separate Tables (1958), The Sundowners (1960), and Casino Royale (1967).
She did receive a Golden Globe for Best Actress for The King and I (1956).
She also received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special for A Woman of Substance (1984).
In 1998, she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Her last public appearance was in 1994 when she was awarded an honorary Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement and received one of the longest standing ovations of all Honorary Oscar-recipients.
As a stage actress, Deborah Kerr made her Broadway debut in 1953, in Tea and Sympathy, for which received a Tony Award nomination. She returned to Broadway in 1975 in the play Seascape.
Deborah's first marriage was to Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Anthony Bartley on November 29, 1945. They had two daughters, Melanie Jane and Francessa Ann. They divorced in 1959.
Deborah's second marriage was to author Peter Viertel on July 23, 1960.
After rertiring from acting, she lived in Switzerland and Spain, but returned to England to be with her family when her Parkinson's disease worsened.
Deborah Kerr died from Parkinson's disease on October 16, 2007 at the age of 86.