Thursday, November 14, 2013

In Appreciation, Mr. Powell

I have been a Dick Powell fan for more years than I would like to admit.  He was the No. 1 Star of Four Star Productions, a very successful TV company that produced a multitude of hit shows in the 50s and on into the 60s.  Charles Boyer and David Niven were two of the other stars, but it was workaholic Powell who was the driving force behind the company's success.  I grew up watching many of his shows including "Richard Diamond, Private Detective" with David Janssen;  "The Rifleman" with Chuck Connors; "The Detectives" starring Robert Taylor; and, "Wanted:  Dead or Alive" which propelled Steve McQueen into stardom. 

Late at night, I would watch the young Powell as the lead juvenile in a whole series of Warner Bros. musicals.  The cute baby-faced singer with a delightfully strong tenor voice was featured in such hits as "The Gold Diggers of 1933" and "42nd Street."  

                      Dick Powell, Nov. 14, 1904 - Jan. 2, 1963

An older Powell excelled as a tough guy in film-noir classics such as "Murder, My Sweet" and "Johnny O'Clock," co-starring Evelyn Keyes.

There are similarities in Dick's and Bob's careers.  From early on, both were typecast by their studios and not allowed to expand into other types of roles.  Bob tried to escape the typecasting, but "Night Must Fall" did not change the way the studio handled him.  Dick had to quit Warner Bros. in order to get a role against type in "Murder, My Sweet."   Bob and Dick both turned to producing movies in the mid to late 1940s, and then went into TV production, Bob in 1950 and Dick in 1952.  Also, they were born in the same year (1904), married very petite ladies and, sadly, they both die of cancer.  Dick was only 58.  It would have been interesting to see what affect Powell would have had on television given a few more years. 

Thank you, Mr. Powell, for many, many hours of enjoyment. 

No comments: