Image of Dick Powell

Dick Powell

Richard Ewing "Dick" Powell (November 14, 1904 – January 2, 1963) was an American singer, actor, producer, director and studio boss. Born in Mountain View, the seat of Stone County in northern Arkansas, Powell attended the former Little Rock College in the state capital, before he started his entertainment career as a singer with the Charlie Davis Orchestra, based in the midwest. He recorded a number of records with Davis and on his own, for the Vocalion label in the late 1920s. Powell moved to Pittsburgh, where he found great local success as the Master of Ceremonies at the Enright Theater and the Stanley Theater. In April 1930, Warner Bros. bought up Brunswick Records which at that time owned Vocalion. Warner Bros. was sufficiently impressed by Powell's singing and stage presence to offer him a film contract in 1932. He made his film debut as a singing bandleader in Blessed Event. He went on to star as a boyish crooner in movie musicals such as 42nd Street, Footlight Parade, Gold Diggers of 1933, Dames, Flirtation Walk, and On the Avenue, often appearing opposite Ruby Keeler and Joan Blondell. Powell desperately wanted to expand his range but Warner Bros. wouldn't allow him to do so, although they did (mis)cast him in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) as Lysander. This was to be Powell's only Shakespearean role and one he did not want to play, feeling that he was completely wrong for the part. Finally, reaching his forties and knowing that his young romantic leading man days were behind him he lobbied to play the lead in Double Indemnity. He lost out to Fred MacMurray, another Hollywood nice guy. MacMurray’s success, however, fueled Powell’s resolve to pursue projects with greater range and in 1944, he was cast in the first of a series of films noir, as private detective Philip Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet, directed by Edward Dmytryk. The film was a big hit and Powell had successfully reinvented himself as a dramatic actor. The following year Dmytryk and Powell re-teamed to make Cornered, a gripping, post-WWII thriller that helped define the film noir style. He became a popular "tough guy" lead appearing in movies such as Johnny O'Clock and Cry Danger. But 1948 saw him step out of the brutish type when he starred in Pitfall, a film noir that sees a bored insurance company worker fall for an innocent but dangerous femme fatale, played by Lizabeth Scott. Even when he appeared in lighter fare such as The Reformer and the Redhead and Susan Slept Here (1954) he never sang in his later roles. The latter, his final onscreen appearance in a feature film, did include a dance number with costar Debbie Reynolds. From 1949-1953, Powell played the lead role in the National Broadcasting Company radio theater production Richard Diamond, Private Detective. His character in the 30-minute weekly was a likable private detective with a quick wit. When Richard Diamond came to television in 1957, the lead role was portrayed by David Janssen. In the 1950s Powell produced and directed several B-movies and was one of the founders of Four Star Television, along with Charles Boyer, David Niven and Ida Lupino. He appeared in and supervised several shows for that company. Powell played the role of Willie Dante in Four Star Playhouse in episodes entitled "Dante's Inferno" (1952), "The Squeeze" (1953), "The Hard Way" (1953), and "The House Always Wins" (1955). In 1961 Howard Duff, husband of Ida Lupino, assumed the Dante role in a short-lived NBC adventure series Dante, set at a San Francisco nightclub called "Dante's Inferno". Powell guest starred in numerous Four Star programs including a 1958 appearance on the Duff-Lupino sitcom Mr. Adams and Eve. He appeared in 1961 on James Whitmore's legal drama The Law and Mr. Jones on ABC. In the episode "Everybody Versus Timmy Drayton" Powell played a colonel having problems with his son. He hosted and occasionally starred in his Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater on CBS from 1956-1961. Powell's film The Enemy Below (1957) based on the novel by Denys Rayner won an Academy Award for special effects. Powell also directed The Conqueror (1956) starring John Wayne as Genghis Khan. The exterior scenes were filmed in St. George, Utah, downwind of US above-ground atomic tests. The cast and crew totaled 220 and of that number, 91 had developed some form of cancer by 1981 and 46 had died of cancer by then, including Wayne. This cancer rate is about three times higher than one would expect in a group of this size and many have argued that radioactive fallout was the cause.[1] Powell himself died seven years after The Conqueror was made on January 2, 1963 from lymphoma at the age of fifty-eight. His body was cremated and his remains were interred in the Columbarium of Honor at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

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Nov 14, 1904 In Mountain View, Arkansas
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie Blessed Event 1932-09-10
Latest Project:
Movie Classic Movie Bloopers: Uncensored 2013-01-29
Known For
Poster of Abby
Poster of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross
Poster of It Happened Tomorrow
Poster of Christmas in July
Movie Classic Movie Bloopers: Uncensored Himself (archive footage) 2013-01-29
Series Abby Billy Lawler 2003-01-06
Series Friday Night with Jonathan Ross Philip Marlowe 2001-11-02
Movie Hollywood Out-takes and Rare Footage Himself (archive footage) 1983-02-25
Movie Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? Himself 1975-08-06
Movie Hollywood My Home Town 1965-12-31
Movie The Love Goddesses Himself (archive footage) 1965-03-03
Series The DuPont Show of the Week Unknown 1961-09-17
Series The Dick Powell Show Host 1961-09-26
Series The DuPont Show with June Allyson Unknown 1959-09-21
Series Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater Himself - Host 1956-10-05
Movie Susan Slept Here Mark Christopher 1954-07-14
Series Climax! Unknown 1954-10-07
Series Four Star Playhouse 1952-09-25
Series This Is Your Life Unknown 1952-10-01
Movie The Bad and the Beautiful James Lee Bartlow 1952-12-25
Movie Cry Danger 'Rocky' Mulloy 1951-02-21
Movie The Tall Target John Kennedy 1951-08-17
Movie You Never Can Tell Rex Shepherd 1951-09-23
Movie The Reformer and the Redhead Andrew Hale 1950-05-05
Series Space Patrol Laurence Gerard 1950-12-30
Movie Right Cross Rick Garvey 1950-10-06
Series The Emmy Awards Unknown 1949-01-25
Movie Mrs. Mike Sgt. Mike Flannigan 1949-12-23
Movie To the Ends of the Earth Commissioner Michael Barrows 1948-02-07
Series The Ed Sullivan Show Unknown 1948-06-20
Movie Rogues' Regiment Whit Corbett 1948-12-28
Movie Station West Lt. John Martin Haven 1948-10-16
Movie Pitfall John Forbes 1948-06-24
Movie Blow-Ups of 1947 Himself 1947-01-01
Movie Johnny O'Clock Johnny O'Clock 1947-01-23
Movie It Happened Tomorrow Lawrence " Larry " Stevens 1944-05-28
Movie Meet the People William 'Swanee' Swanson 1944-06-01
Movie Happy Go Lucky Pete Hamilton 1943-01-04
Movie Riding High Steve Baird 1943-11-11
Movie True to Life Link Ferris 1943-12-24
Movie Star Spangled Rhythm Dick Powell - ' Hit the Road to Dreamland' Number 1942-03-05
Movie Model Wife Fred Chambers 1941-04-17
Movie In the Navy Thomas Halstead 1941-05-30
Movie I Want a Divorce Alan MacNally 1940-09-20
Movie Christmas in July Jimmy McDonald 1940-10-18
Movie Naughty But Nice Professor Donald Hardwick 1939-06-23
Movie Hollywood Hobbies Himself 1939-05-03
Movie Cowboy from Brooklyn Elly Jordan, aka Wyoming Steve Gibson 1938-07-09
Movie Breakdowns of 1938 Himself 1938-02-07
Movie Hard to Get Bill 1938-11-05
Movie Going Places Peter Mason 1938-12-31
Movie On The Avenue Gary Blake 1937-02-12
Movie Breakdowns of 1937 Himself 1937-01-23
Movie The Singing Marine Bob Brent 1937-07-03
Movie Varsity Show Charles 'Chuck' Daly 1937-09-04
Movie Hollywood Hotel Ronnie Bowers 1937-12-20
Movie Colleen Donald Ames 3rd 1936-03-21
Movie Hearts Divided Jerome Bonaparte 1936-06-20
Movie Stage Struck George Randall 1936-09-12
Movie Gold Diggers of 1937 Rosmer 'Rossi' Peck 1936-12-28
Movie Page Miss Glory Betty 1935-09-07
Movie Gold Diggers of 1935 Dick Curtis 1935-03-15
Movie Broadway Gondolier Richard 'Dick' Purcell, aka Ricardo Purcelli 1935-07-27
Movie A Midsummer Night's Dream Lysander, In love with Hermia 1935-10-09
Movie Shipmates Forever Richard John 'Dick' Melville III 1935-10-12
Movie A Dream Comes True Himself (uncredited) 1935-12-31
Movie Things You Never See on the Screen Himself 1935-12-01
Movie Thanks a Million Eric Land 1935-11-15
Movie Wonder Bar Tommy 1934-03-31
Movie Twenty Million Sweethearts Buddy Clayton 1934-05-26
Movie Hollywood Newsreel Himself 1934-03-24
Movie Dames James 'Jimmy' Higgens 1934-09-01
Movie Flirtation Walk Dick 'Canary' Dorcy / Richard Palmer Grant Dorcy 1934-12-01
Movie Happiness Ahead Bob Lane 1934-10-27
Movie The King's Vacation John Kent 1933-02-25
Movie Just Around the Corner Jerry 1933-01-17
Movie The Road Is Open Again The Songwriter 1933-01-30
Movie Gold Diggers of 1933 Brad Roberts 1933-05-27
Movie Footlight Parade Scott 'Scotty' Blair 1933-10-21
Movie Convention City Jerry Ford 1933-12-14
Movie College Coach Phillip 'Phil' / 'Sarge' Sargeant 1933-11-13
Movie Blessed Event Bunny Harmon 1932-09-10
Movie Too Busy to Work Dan Hardy 1932-12-02
Movie Big City Blues Radio Announcer (voice) (uncredited) 1932-09-18