Muffins and Milk

Does anyone know why Penny has to keep eating muffins and milk fpr her lunch? Is it good for her, or something to do with her singing?


I think it was only used to impress upon the audience that Penny was a child, and so, was served a "children's meal," in contrast to her older sisters, Kay and Joan, who were given more adult fare.

Milk actually doesn't help much with singing. It tends to both coat and freeze the vocal cords, and that can cause the voice to crack and the sound of the voice to be somewhat dimished. In a late 1940s article on her vocal practicing, Deanna stated that she avoided Dairy products before she did her vocal exercises and before her singing engagements.



I agree that muffins and milk are not a meal, however, just because Penny was served them as a first course, doesn't mean that that's all she had for lunch. We don't know what else she might have eaten....just that she probably didn't get chicken livers or caviar, unless, of course, she swiped some off one of her sisters' plates. (Given her character in the film, I wouldn't put this past her. lol!)

Yes, I think 14 was probably considered younger then than it is now, at least by Hollywood's standards. Whatever Penny's age in the film, it's clear that she's supposed to be a "young teen" and her older sisters, young adults.

By making THREE SMART GIRLS the universal critical and popular success it was, Deanna Durbin not only became Popular Culture's first "Teen Idol," but singlehandedly proved the viability of the adolescent female as a potent box office force, a feat publicly and gratefully acknowledged at the time by her adolescent MGM rival, Judy Garland.

The following article from the NEW YORK TIMES, published in December 1936 (a few weeks before TSGs went into general release), reflects the prevailing wary attitude in Hollywood toward teen girls as a viable box office force, predicts great things for Durbin and acknowledges her likely superstardom even before her first feature film went into general release:

"A Corner of Hollywood Talent" By Douglas W. Churchill
December 13, 1936:

"The success of two new youngsters in recent films promises to lift
the ban from half-grown girls, and possibly start a cycle of pictures
involving singing ingenues. Girls in their early and mid teens have
never interested producers, but since Judy Garland attracted attention
in PIGSKIN PARADE, and the industry became aware of Deanna Durbin in
Universal's THREE SMART GIRLS, scouting activity has been noted.

Young Miss Durbin's success has been the more pronounced. Charles R.
Rogers, Universal's head, regards her as one of the important
discoveries of several seasons and is making elaborate plans for her
future. There is talk of reviving "The Phantom of the Opera" in which
she will be starred and Hans Kraly has been commissioned to write an
untitled original for her.

Following Hollywood custom, most of those connected with a successful
film are being advanced to high places. With "Three Smart Girls" Miss
Durbin has been skyrocketed to stardom, and Adele Commandini who wrote
the original, Joseph Pasternak, who produced it, and Henry Koster who
directed the picture are accorded the title of geniuses of the month....

Miss Durbin, Miss Commandini's script, Pasternak and Koster were
thrown together to make a B picture. Pasternak saw the possibilities
in the yarn and while he was pleading for an enlarged budget, Joseph
I. Breen of the Hays office, to whom the scenario had been sent for
approval, called Rogers and complimented him on it. As a result,
without fanfare or announcement, the picture was put on the A list,
money was spent on it and now everyone connected with the project is
in great demand."



I'm not a big fan of milk, either, though I drink it because of its' health benefits.

Still, Muffins and Milk do seem to go together, don't they? And not only because of the alliterative appeal of the two products.



Maybe it was just a snack? She could have eaten more later or for all we know, she could have eaten before she and her sisters arrived to the restaurant.


Thanks for posting the NY Times article. Very interesting.


But this is just a movie. Deanna probably never ate muffins or drank in real life.


But this is just a movie. Deanna probably never ate muffins or drank in real life.

True, it is just a movie, but it still seems like an odd dietary staple to impose upon a child, or anyone for that matter.

I don't know whether Deanna ever had "muffins and milk," but her producer, Joe Pasternak, said in his autobiography that, for as long as he worked with her, she had a liberal helping of french fried potatoes smothered in ketchup, every morning, as part of her breakfast.

Of course, this comment came from a man who, as Esther Williams said, was the only person she ever knew who ate spaghetti with his hands, so who knows? lol!


Hi,one can never be too rich or have too many friends. Interestingly,the MGM commisary had standing orders to bring Judy Garland chicken soup no matter what she ordered.Over at Universal, The producer for Deanna Durbin's films told her no more fench fries,she looked up at him and replied,"Mr. Producer,tomorrow I will have my french fries," and nothing more was said. She had her french fries. It shows how different the two girls were. Deanna refused to be bullied into anything.


Yes, I think Deanna was probably better at standing up for herself and getting concessions from her studio than Judy.

This may have been due (in part) to the fact that Deanna was more valuable to Universal than Judy was to MGM, but I think Deanna also simply managed to do a better balancing act between making demands and giving concessions when it came to dealing with the studio heads.

(Of course, according to several of her contemporaries, Judy often cheated on that studio-imposed diet, so maybe she did "get her way" after all.)


Hi,one can never be too rich or have too many friends. Judy liked to sneak out when she was a teen for ice cream but the studio spys would turn her in to the front office. Personally,I never could see what her crime was. She was more curvy than fat but I guess they wanted a non-sexual image for their Judy. A stick thing girl with sunken cheeks.


I would think if they wanted a non-sexual image for Judy the studios would have allowed her to eat to her heart's content. With her curves not showing because of the added weight, she wouldn't have looked too sexy.

Perhaps the reason Judy looked "curvy" rather than "fat" was because of those studio spies? They kept after her and kept her from becoming too heavy (as she looks in her earliest film appearances like BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938 and THOROUGHBREDS DON'T CRY when her baby fat is quite evident.)

Just wondering...


You're Welcome. Here's a typical commentary on the film and Deanna Durbin from the Los Angeles Times in 1936:

Los Angeles Times
December 2, 1936

Caption: ROCKETS TO STELLAR ROLE: Deanna Durbin, Los Angeles schoolgirl, has the
distinction of shooting to stardom on the screen in her very first motion
picture, "Three Smart Girls." The girl's sensational soprano voice, which gained her millioins
of radio fans in a few weeks, brought her to the attention of Universal studio executives. Now
she's Hollywood's newest "overnight Star," and is rated one of the outstanding singing
discoveries of the decade.

A thrilling modern version of the age-old story of Cinderella comes to a
smashing, glamorous climax today when a 13 year-old girl makes her debut as a motion
picture star.

The heroine of the tale is Deanna Durbin, starry-eyed, golden-voiced youngster,
who has scaled the cinematic heights in one breathtaking leap, and whose vehicle, "Three Smart Girls," has its' world premiere today.

A year ago Deanna Durbin was a Los Angeles schoolgirl. Today she is hailed as
one of the greatest personalities to be discovered in the history of movies. Aladdin and
his wonderful lamp could have brought about no more thrilling adventure than the real-life one
experienced by this charming youngster.


In "Three Smart Girls," Universal's production chief Charles R. Rogers has
given her a setting and a background befitting a princess of the screen. No effort has been
spared, no detail overlooked, in seeing that she is launched in a truly great motion

Supporting her is a distinguished cast of favorites, which includes such stellar
names as Binnie Barnes, Alice Brady, Ray Milland, Charles Winninger, MIscha Auer, Nan
Grey, Barbara Read, Ernest Cossart, Hobart Cavanaugh, John King, Lucille Watson and Nella


The celebrated Austrian director, Henry Koster, was imported by Universal and
given "Three Smart Girls" as his first American picture. Art supervision and gowns for the production were turned over to John Harkrider who spent years with the late great Florenz Ziegfeld.

The famed German tunesmiths, Walter Jurman and Bronislaw Kaper, were engaged to
writeher songs, and Gus Kahn obtained to do the lyrics.

Joe Valentine, one of Hollywood's ace cameramen, was assigned to the


Joseph Pasternak, who is expert at making movies with light appealing comedy,
was assigned to the picture as associate producer.

All this and a year ago Deanna was living the same life as thousands of other
Los Angeles youngsters. She attended Manchester Avenue School and the Brete Harte Junior
High School, and was singing in churches and neighborhood entertainments.

She came to Southern California with her parents at the age of 1 year. Then, and
long after, the idea of a motion picture career for the little girl didn't enter
anyone's head in the Durbin family. As in the case of thousands of other families, the move to
Hollywood was inspired merely by a desire to escape rigorous northern winters.


As soon as she could talk, Deanna began singing children's songs with unusual
clarity and trueness. By the time she reached the age of ten, members of her family began to
feel that she definitely possessed an unusual voice.

Then she began thinking of an operatic career. The idea of a career in motion
pictures didn't even suggest itself.

A housewife in the neighborhood happened to be acquainted with a Hollywood
actor's agent, Jack Sherill, and was so enthusiastic about the youngster's vocal talents
that she called him and insisted that he hear Deanna sing.

The result was one of those things which can only happen in Hollywood.

In twenty-four hours she was embarked upon a professional career. Specialists
peered down her throat and found her vocal organs fully developed despite her youth.


She made one musical short at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and then was signed by
Universal to a long-term contract. The august Metropolitan Opera Company of New York evinced
seriouis interest in her. She became the prima donna of Eddie Cantor's radio

Meanwhile, though "Three Smart Girls" is finished, Deanna Durbin hasn't seen
herself in a movie yet. Mr. and Mrs. James Durbin and studio officials think it wise for her
to see as little of herself as possible on the screen. They want to keep her just as she
is-a charming and unspoiled youngster.

So-as far as it is possible for a rising young movie star to do so-she continues
to live as she did before Hollywood's magic began to work.

She lives to skate and go to movies and eat spaghetti. Her favorite picture
stars are Mickey Mouse and Oswald Rabbit.

She has no boyfriends, goes to school four hours a day, and her marks in algebra
could be better.

If you ask her what her outstanding interest in life is, you'll be surprised at
her answer.

She won't say movies or radio or even singing.

She'll say "Tippy."

Tippy is her cocker spaniel dog.