Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tom Powers

Here's a Bit Actor who I mentioned briefly as being in Destination Moon (1950).  Tom Powers (1890 - 1955) was also in over 130 other titles.  His career spanned work at The Vitagraph Company in 1911, all the way into the television era. 

Powers made over 40 silent films, including an uncredited part in Gertie the Dinosaur (1914), an early animated short.  He worked until 1917, and then went to the theater, becoming a playwright and actor. 

In 1944 he was asked to be the murder victim in Double Indemnity starring Barbara Stanwick and Fred MacMurray.  That started another film career for him.  He made 26 films in the 1940s alone.

Look for Powers in The Blue Dahlia (1946), Angel and the Badman and The Farmer's Daughter both in 1947. 

He worked with James Cagney and William Bendix in The Time of Your Life (1948), an unusual film for Cagney.  Other great stars were in many of his films (or was it the other way 'round?) but for some reason, almost all of his films just missed the mark and never became big box office hits.

How about this?  He had a small part in We're Not Married (1952) starring Ginger Rogers and Marilyn Monroe.  Powers even worked with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in Scared Stiff (1953).  His television work was never regular, but he had gigs on "The Lone Ranger" and "Superman" among several others.

Tom Powers' last movie role of note was in Double Jeopardy (1955) starring Rod Cameron (1910 - 1983).  I've never seen it, and it may not have been a very good mystery.  For Tom, it was a job and it helped pay the bills.  That is the life of a Bit Actor.


  1. BP,
    Sadly I don't know much about Mr. Powers so your posts always provide interesting info on our lesser known actors.
    I wasn't aware there was a Double Jeopardy in 1955. I saw the 1999 version which was a pretty good film.
    Have a great week,

  2. Here's Tom Powers as the top cop in "The Blue Dahlia), just a couple of years before "Destination Moon":

    Here's a trivia coincidence about Powers appearing with Cagney. Cagney's name in "The Public Enemy" was Tom Powers.

    He's one of those guys it took me forever to put his name and his face together.

  3. Thanks for the comments, Page and Caftan. You can see how Bit Actors can get under your skin!

    I believe I saw the '99 Double Jeopardy. I always like Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones, but now I have to seek out the 1955 version.

    And a good catch on the Tom Powers character, Caftan. It does sound like a common literary name...the everyday guy Tom, with the powerful Powers for a last name.


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