: [about her work in From Here to Eternity (1953)] I don't think anyone knew I could act until I put on a bathing suit.
Born Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer in Scotland she was the daughter of a soldier who had been gassed in World War I. A shy, insecure child, she found an outlet for expressing her feelings in acting.
Her aunt, a radio star, got her some stage work when she was a teenager, and she came to the attention of British film producer Gabriel Pascal, who cast her in his film of George Bernard Shaw's "Major Barbara" (Major Barbara (1941)) and Love on the Dole (1941).
She quickly became a star of the British cinema, playing such diverse roles as the three women in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and the nun in Black Narcissus.
After getting tired of playing prim-and-proper English ladies she made the most of the role of the adulteress who romps on the beach with Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity. The film was a success, and Kerr received her second Oscar nomination.
She played one of her best-remembered screen roles, "Mrs. Anna" in The King and I. More success followed in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, An Affair to Remember, and Separate Tables.