English actors switch back and forth between stage and screen with more facility than their American colleagues. When I lived in England, the theater was cheap and fun and amazing. For a couple of quid, I could see Alec Guiness from the second or third row at the Oxford Playhouse (in "The National Health"), Ingrid Bergman (in "The Constant Wife"), and Wendy Hiller (in "Crown Matrimonial"). Along with these giants, I saw all-time fave Deborah Kerr in "The Day After the Fair." When it comes to her film roles, others will remember Ms. Kerr for "From Here to Eternity with her famous beach scene with Burt Lancaster. But for me her two best roles were in "Separate Tables" where she plays a mousy woman who defies her mother and social convention to become heroic in a small, understated way and in "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison" where she plays a nun who resists the temptation offered by Robert Mitchum. The "Separate Tables" cast also included David Niven, Gladys Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Rod Taylor, and the aforementioned Wendy Hiller and Burt Lancaster. Among those stars she shined brightest. Here's what the Times review said: "Most brilliant and true of the performers is Deborah Kerr." She once said: "I adore not being me. I'm not very good at being me. That's why I adore acting so much."
Deborah Kerr died Tuesday at age 86. Read the Independent's obituary here.