Dick Powell

Dick Powell

  • Born on
    • November 14th, 1904
  • Died on
    • January 2nd, 1963
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.

Starring Dick Powell on Plex


Acting (34 Credits)

1985That's Dancing!
1965The Love Goddesses as (archive footage)
1954Susan Slept Here as Mark Christopher
1952The Bad and the Beautiful as James Lee Bartlow
1952Four Star Playhouse
1951Cry Danger as Rocky Mulloy
1951The Tall Target as John Kennedy
1951You Never Can Tell as Rex Shepherd
1948Pitfall as John Forbes
1948Station West as Lt. John Martin Haven
1948To the Ends of the Earth as Commissioner Michael Barrows
1947Johnny O'Clock as Johnny O'Clock
1945Cornered as Laurence Gerard
1944Murder, My Sweet as Philip Marlowe
1944It Happened Tomorrow as Lawrence " Larry " Stevens
1942Star Spangled Rhythm as Dick Powell
1941In the Navy as Thomas Halstead
1940Christmas in July as Jimmy McDonald
1938Hard to Get as Bill Davis
1937Hollywood Hotel as Ronnie Bowers
1937On the Avenue as Gary Blake
1936Gold Diggers of 1937 as Rosmer “Rossi” Peck
1936Hearts Divided as Jerome Bonaparte
1935Gold Diggers of 1935 as Dick Curtis
1935Page Miss Glory as Bingo
1935A Midsummer Night's Dream as Lysander
1934Flirtation Walk as Dick "Canary" Dorcy
1934Dames as Jimmy Higgens
1934Wonder Bar as Tommy
1933Footlight Parade as Scotty Blair
1933Gold Diggers of 1933 as Brad Roberts
193342nd Street as Billy Lawler
1932Blessed Event as Bunny Harmon
1932Big City Blues as Radio Announcer (voice) (uncredited)


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