Monday, November 8, 2010

Dick Powell

I know, Dick Powell (1904 - 1963) is certainly not a Bit Actor.  I don't think he ever was...well maybe in his first few films.  I like him, its my blog, so deal with it.

His life must have been exciting.  He was married to Joan Blondell (1906 - 1979) and then to June Allyson (1917 - 2006).  He was originally a singer, and after making hundreds of Busby Berkeley (1895 - 1976) films, all with hundreds of beautiful women, he started making detective movies.  He even sold Humphrey Bogart his famous boat, Santana.

OK, I got carried away.  He only made eleven Busby Berkeley films.

Powell made 58 movies and several TV shows, including his own "The Dick Powell Theater" in the 1960s.  After a few less popular films, he made 42nd Street in 1933 with Berkeley as a choreographer, and Ginger Rogers (1911 - 1995) and Ruby Keeler (1910 - 1993) in the cast.

That same year he made two shorts and six movies, including two other Berkeley musicals, Gold Diggers of 1933 and Footlight Parade

In 1935 he was a bit out of his element in A Midsummer Night's Dream, starring James Cagney (1899 - 1986) and Mickey Rooney (b. 1920).  I think Cagney was out of his element as well.

The war years brought some war movies, including In The Navy (1941) with Abbott and Costello.  Then, in 1944, he was in one of his most popular films, Murder, My Sweet, as the detective Phillip Marlow.  It is considered film noir at its best.

In the 1950s his popularity started to wane and his movies weren't as memorable.  He found good work on TV, and he played Phillip Marlow again on "Climax!" in 1954.

Dick Powell died of cancer in 1963, which may have been attributed to directing a movie near an atomic bomb test site.  The movie was The Conquerer (1956) with John Wayne playing Genghis Kahn.  (Any relation to Madeline Kahn (1942 - 1999)?)  Apparently, several members of the cast and crew also eventually died of cancer.

To me, the best pairing Dick Powell ever did was with the songs of Al Dubin (1891 - 1945) and Harry Warren (1893 - 1981).  His voice will always ring in my memory.

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