Oscar-nominee's beach kiss was the screen's most famous smooch

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated October 18, 2007 11:45 AM
Credit: Press Association via AP

Deborah Kerr, who memorably smooched on the beach with Burt Lancaster in the 1953 Oscar-winning Best Picture From Here to Eternity, has died after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease. She was 86.

Her death occurred in England on Tuesday, said the Scottish-born actress’s agent, Anne Hutton, the Associated Press reports.

Nominated for an Oscar six times as Best Actress (a record in the category for someone who never took home the prize), the flame-haired Kerr was presented a special lifetime achievement Academy Award in 1993, to honor the “perfection, discipline and elegance” of her screen work.

A major star during her career, Kerr’s nominations were also for some of the biggest box-office hits of their time. They were: 1949’s Edward My Son (with Spencer Tracy), 1953’s From Here to Eternity, 1956’s The King & I (with Best Actor winner Yul Brynner), 1957’s Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (with Robert Mitchum), 1958’s Separate Tables and 1960’s The Sundowners (again, with Mitchum).

One role for which she was not nominated but for which she will not be forgotten: 1957’s classic tear-jerker, An Affair to Remember, opposite Cary Grant.

Besides a home in England, Kerr and her husband, White Hunter Black Heart author Pieter Viertel, also lived in Switzerland. Viertel survives her, as do two daughters and three grandchildren.