Eleanor Powell


Actor, Dancer
Eleanor Powell

About

Also Known As
Eleanor Torrey Powell
Birth Place
Springfield, Massachusetts, USA
Born
November 21, 1912
Died
February 11, 1982
Cause of Death
Ovarian Cancer

Biography

Ever-smiling, world-class tap artist who danced her way through a dozen successful MGM musicals in the late 1930s and early 40s before retiring from the screen--save for a guest role in "The Duchess of Idaho" (1950). Typically cast as the determined hopeful whose talent and determination get her to the top, Powell was not a major actress, but she did display exuberance and a certain tong...

Photos & Videos

Born to Dance - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Lady Be Good - Kapralik Trade Ad
Ship Ahoy - Kapralik Trade Ad

Family & Companions

Glenn Ford
Husband
Actor. Married in 1943; divorced in November 1959; reportedly he was frequently unfaithful to Powell during their marriage.

Biography

Ever-smiling, world-class tap artist who danced her way through a dozen successful MGM musicals in the late 1930s and early 40s before retiring from the screen--save for a guest role in "The Duchess of Idaho" (1950). Typically cast as the determined hopeful whose talent and determination get her to the top, Powell was not a major actress, but she did display exuberance and a certain tongue-in-cheek charm, and her aggressive, androgynous dancing style made her as familiar a sight in top hat and tails as Fred Astaire.

Powell's best films include "Broadway Melody of 1936" (1935), which made her a star, its two sequels from 1938 and 1940 (the latter featuring her legendary "Begin the Beguine" duet with Astaire), and "Born to Dance" (1936). Generally a solo dancer, the acrobatic Powell did have George Murphy on hand in several films as a partner; she also teamed with comedian Red Skelton for three films, the best of which is "Ship Ahoy" (1942). Married to actor Glenn Ford from 1943 to 1959, Powell hosted an acclaimed religious program in the 1950s and later performed occasionally onstage and in nightclubs.

Life Events

1925

Hired for first professional engagement by Gus Edwards; performed at the dinner show at the Ambassador Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey

1927

Became emcee at the Martins Club

1929

Broadway debut in "Follow Thru"

1930

Film debut in a dance sequence in "Queen High"

1931

Appeared with Anita Page and Fanny Brice in "Crazy Quilt" on Broadway

1935

Became a star at MGM in "Broadway Melody of 1936"

1935

Made feature film debut in Fox's "George White's 1935 Scandals"

1936

Co-starred with James Stewart in "Born to Dance"

1937

Had title role in "Rosalie"

1940

Teamed with Fred Astaire in "Broadway Melody of 1940"

1941

Saw star status slip a bit when given second lead in "Lady Be Good"; also first of three films with Red Skelton

1943

One of many guest stars to appear in the fund-raising musical, "Thousands Cheer"

1943

Left MGM after completing "I Dood It", co-starring Skelton

1944

Last starring vehicle, "Sensations of 1945"

1950

Returned to films to dance a solo routine in the Esther Williams musical, "The Duchess of Idaho"

1953

Hosted the religious-themed TV program "Faith of Our Children"; won five local area Emmy Awards

1981

Made final TV appearance at the AFI tribute to Fred Astaire

Photo Collections

Born to Dance - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are some photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Born to Dance (1936), starring Eleanor Powell.
Lady Be Good - Kapralik Trade Ad
Here is a trade ad for MGM's Lady Be Good (1941), starring Eleanor Powell, Robert Young, and Ann Sothern. The art is by mixed-media caricaturist Jaques Kapralik. Trade Ads were placed by studios in industry magazines like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
Ship Ahoy - Kapralik Trade Ad
Here is a trade ad for MGM's Ship Ahoy (1943), starring Eleanor Powell and Red Skelton. The art is by mixed-media caricaturist Jaques Kapralik. Trade Ads were placed by studios in industry magazines like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
I Dood It - Kapralik Trade Ad
Here is a trade ad for MGM's I Dood It (1943), starring Red Skelton and Eleanor Powell. The art is by mixed-media caricaturist Jaques Kapralik. Trade Ads were placed by studios in industry magazines like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
Born to Dance - Movie Posters
Here are a few original-release movie posters from Born to Dance (1936) starring Eleanor Powell and James Stewart.
Broadway Melody of 1940 - Fred Astaire & Eleanor Powell Publicity Stills
Here are several dancing stills of Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell, taken for Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Broadway Melody of 1940 - Behind-the-Scenes Stills
Here are a number of photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Broadway Melody of 1940, starring Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, and George Murphy and directed by Norman Taurog.

Videos

Movie Clip

Honolulu (1939) - I'm Liable To Get Killed! Movie star Brooks (Robert Young) recovering from the last time he was mobbed during an east-coast PR swing, getting out of the hospital with the help of hustling agent Duffy (George Burns), with a poor result, in MGM’s Honolulu, 1939, also starring Eleanor Powell and Gracie Allen.
Honolulu (1939) - Throw Myself At Him? Robert Young, in a dual role, here is movie star Books Mason, who’s traded places with his look-alike Hawaiian plantation owner George, cruising home for two weeks of peace and quiet, when he’s recognized by cruise ship entertainer Millie (Gracie Allen), who must tell pal Dot (Eleanor Powell), the first scene for both gals, in MGM’s Honolulu, 1939.
Honolulu (1939) - Title Song Cruise ship entertainers Millie (Gracie Allen) and Dot (Eleanor Powell) persuaded to perform, the title song, an original by Harry Warren and Gus Kahn, Gracie with the vocal then Eleanor, choreographed by Bobby Connelly, handling the jump rope with ease, in Honolulu, 1939, from MGM and producer Jack Cummings.
Ship Ahoy (1942) - I'll Take Tallulah Like many Eleanor Powell numbers, another suggesting she was the best dancer of her generation, devised by Billy Connolly, Bert Lahr and Red Skelton warbling, Tommy Dorsey's band, song by Burton Lane and Yip Harburg, clever bit for drummer Buddy Rich, in Ship Ahoy, 1942.
Ship Ahoy (1942) - Poor You Frank Sinatra is the dandied-up singer performing Burton Lane and E.Y. Harburg's "Poor You," with Tommy Dorsey's band in the Eleanor Powell and Red Skelton vehicle Ship Ahoy, 1942.
Broadway Melody Of 1936 (1935) - Sing Before Breakfast The second piece of maybe the best bit in the movie, hoofers and new neighbors Ted and Sally (Buddy and sister Vilma Ebsen) with Broadway hopeful Irene (Eleanor Powell), reprising the song by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, in MGM's Broadway Melody Of 1936, 1935.
Born To Dance (1936) - Easy To Love James Stewart as sailor Ted is not quite the equal of top-billed Eleanor Parker (as single New York gal Nora) as a singer but makes a game effort, with Cole Porter’s Easy To Love, but he’s not in her species as a dancer, so she does a solo choreographed by Dave Gould, in MGM’s Born To Dance, 1936.
Ship Ahoy (1942) - Hawaiian War Chant Opening, pretty much everybody showing off, the tune a Hawaiian pop standard, first Tommy Dorsey and the band, then drummer Buddy Rich and trumpeter Ziggy Elman, then Eleanor Powell as the fictional "Tallulah Winters," in Ship Ahoy, from producer Jack Cummings at MGM, co-starring Red Skelton.
That's Entertainment! (1974) - You'll Never See The Likes Near the end of Frank Sinatra’s opening narrated segment, something of a climax with Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell’s brilliant single-take tap number to “Begin The Beguine,” from Broadway Melody Of 1940, in MGM’s 50th anniversary clip-fest, That’s Entertainment!, 1974.
Broadway Melody Of 1940 (1940) - I've Got My Eyes On You After the vocal piece of this not-too well-known Cole Porter song, Fred Astaire as hoofer "Johnny" in a famous number, secretly observed by just-friends Broadway star Clare (Eleanor Powell), in MGM's Broadway Melody Of 1940, 1940.
Broadway Melody Of 1940 (1940) - All Ashore Hoofer and would-be boyfriend Fred Astaire has hustled across Broadway to catch Clare (Eleanor Powell, her first scene) in her specialty number, tune by Roger Edens, early in MGM's Broadway Melody Of 1940, 1940, choreography by Bobby Connolly.
Broadway Melody Of 1940 (1940) - I Concentrate On You The singing part of this Cole Porter number finished (with Douglas MacPhail, not seen), disguised Fred Astaire as "Johnny," standing in for an indisposed pal, joins Eleanor Powell as "Clare," in MGM's Broadway Melody Of 1940, 1940, directed by Norman Taurog.

Trailer

Lady Be Good - (Original Trailer) None of the plot but all of the Gershwin songs like "Fascinatin' Rhythm" in MGM's version of Lady Be Good (1941).
Duchess of Idaho - (Original Trailer) During a Sun Valley vacation, a woman tries to solve her roommate's romantic problems in Duchess of Idaho (1950), starring Esther Williams.
Honolulu - (Original Trailer) A movie star trades places with a Hawaiian plantation owner in Honolulu (1939) starring Eleanor Powell and Robert Young.
Broadway Melody of 1936 - (Original Trailer) A Broadway columnist tries to use an innocent dancer to frame a producer in Broadway Melody of 1936 starring Jack Benny & Eleanor Powell.
Born to Dance - (Original Trailer) Eleanor Powell and James Stewart star in Cole Porter's first musical written for a motion picture, Born To Dance (1936).
Broadway Melody of 1938 - (Original Trailer) Backstage problems jeopardize a Broadway musical in Broadway Melody of 1938 starring Eleanor Powell, George Murphy, and Judy Garland.
Thousands Cheer - (Original Trailer) An egotistical acrobat (Gene Kelly) joins the Army and falls in love with his commander's daughter in the all-star spectacular Thousands Cheer (1943).
Rosalie - (Original Trailer) A West Point cadet falls in love with a European princess in the musical Rosalie (1937) with songs by Cole Porter.
Broadway Melody of 1940 - (Original Trailer) A vaudeville team breaks up when both men fall for the same gorgeous hoofer in Broadway Melody of 1940 starring Fred Astaire.
Ship Ahoy - (Original Trailer) A dancer sailing to Puerto Rico hides government messages in her tap routines in the MGM musical Ship Ahoy (1942) starring Red Skelton.
I Dood It - (Original Trailer) A tailor nurses an unrequited crush on a stage star in I Dood It (1943), starring Red Skelton, Eleanor Powell & Lena Horne.

Family

Peter Ford
Son
Born on February 5, 1945.

Companions

Glenn Ford
Husband
Actor. Married in 1943; divorced in November 1959; reportedly he was frequently unfaithful to Powell during their marriage.

Bibliography