The Scottish-born Kerr began her professional life as a dancer with Sadler's Wells and a British stage actress, where her roles included Ellie Dunn in Heartbreak House, before becoming one of Hollywood's most beloved leading ladies. She received six Oscar nominations, for her work in Edward, My Son, From Here to Eternity, The King and I, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, The Sundowners, and Separate Tables, which was based on Terrence Rattigan's play. She never won the award, but was given an honorary Oscar in 1994.
Kerr also starred in film versions of such plays as Major Barbara, Julius Caesar, The Chalk Garden, and The Night of the Iguana, along with such popular movies as Black Narcissus, An Affair to Remember, and Casino Royale.
Kerr also worked in television, including A Song at Twilight, the 1982 remake of Witness for the Prosecution, opposite Sir Ralph Richardson, Diana Rigg, and Wendy Hiller, and the miniseries A Woman of Substance, for which she received an Emmy Award nomination. The actress eventually returned to the British stage in such plays as The Day After the Fair, Overheard, and The Corn is Green.
Kerr is survived by her husband, Peter Viertel, and two daughters, Melanie and Francesca, from her first marriage to Anthony Bartley.