William Powell: The Life and Legacy of One of Early Hollywood's Most Acclaimed Actors

William Powell: The Life and Legacy of One of Early Hollywood's Most Acclaimed Actors - Charles River Editors

William Powell: The Life and Legacy of One of Early Hollywood's Most Acclaimed Actors


*Includes pictures
*Includes a bibliography for further reading
"My first scene with Bill, a night shot on the back lot, happened before we'd even met. Woody was apparently too busy for introductions. My instructions were to run out of a building, through a crowd, and into a strange car. When Woody called 'Action, ' I opened the car door, jumped in, and landed smack on William Powell's lap. He looked up nonchalantly: 'Miss Loy, I presume?' I said, 'Mr. Powell?' And that's how I met the man who would be my partner in fourteen films." - Myrna LoyMovie stars are revered for their ability to captivate audiences, and Hollywood began to flourish before the onset of television, allowing movies to enjoy relatively uncontested supremacy over American entertainment. The popularity of various actors would thus extend well beyond the success of any of their individual films, reflecting their much broader cultural significance as monuments of Hollywood during its Golden Age.
In the 1920s, the burgeoning movie industry was starting to come into its own, and while older silent film stars like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton reached the peak of Hollywood, some actors born near the beginning of the 20th century were ready to capitalize. While actors like Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant remain household names, and actresses like Greta Garbo are still widely remembered, few had careers that enjoyed the success of William Powell.
In a career spanning several decades, Powell would receive three Oscar nominations for Best Actor for critically acclaimed movies, so it is somewhat ironic that he is mostly remembered today for his association with the more famous Myrna Loy. Together, they starred in 14 films, including the 1934 box office hit, The Thin Man.
One thing that helped Powell's career along in the old days when Hollywood would only cast white actors in major roles, no matter what the nationality of the character was supposed to be, were his dark good looks. In pointing this out, a contemporary profile of Powell explained, "Many people imagine that William Powell has a foreign look. His first big stage success, his first big picture roles, were all in foreign parts - Spanish, Italian, Cuban. As a matter of fact, he is American to the core. Perhaps that look is his heritage from a paternal grandfather named Brady. The black Irish fit into any nationality. There is, too, a good strong strain of Holland Dutch, and a bit of French and English."
William
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