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Actress Jane Powell (1929-2021)


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https://deadline.com/2021/09/jane-powell-dead-obituary-actress-royal-wedding-seven-brides-for-seven-brothers-was-92-1234838168/

Jane Powell Dies: Hollywood Golden Age Actress & ‘Royal Wedding’ Star Was 92

Jane Powell, who made her screen debut with W.C. Fields, danced with Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding, was one of seven brides for seven brothers in the classic 1954 film musical, sang “Buttons and Bows” at President Harry S. Truman’s Inaugural Ball and was a bridesmaid at the first of Elizabeth Taylor’s weddings, died of natural causes today at her home in Wilton, Connecticut. She was 92.

Susan Granger, a friend of the actress and spokesperson for her family, told Deadline that Powell died peacefully at the house she shared for many years with her husband, the actor and publicist Dick Moore, who died in 2015.

Powell, one of the last surviving stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, continued to appear on stage well into the 21st Century, making her career among her generation’s sturdiest.

Born Suzanne Lorraine Burce in Portland, Oregon, Powell was already a locally successful singer – she had toured her home state as an “Oregon Victory Girl” to sell World War II war bonds – when she moved to Hollywood and signed on as a contract player with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Her film debut came in 1944 with MGM’s Song of the Open Road, in which she played a fictionalized version of herself – a teenage singer who joins up with such show-biz stars of the day as Edgar Bergen (with Charlie McCarthy), Big Band leader Sammy Kaye and W.C. Fields. (In what is thought to have been a largely improvised exchange, Fields hands a microphone to Powell with the immortal line, “Here you are, my little kumquat.”)

Powell cemented her popularity and growing fame with roles in 1945’s Delightfully Dangers, 1948’s A Date With Judy and, in 1951, a career-defining role opposite Astaire in Royal Wedding, in which the two played a brother-sister dance act (one of the duo’s musical numbers features what is considered the longest song title in any MGM musical: “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life?”). For the film, Powell had replaced an ailing Judy Garland, who herself had replaced June Allyson.

Several musical films followed, leading to Powell’s second signature role as Milly Pontipee in 1954’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Paired with Howard Keel as the primary bride and brother, Powell performed such stand-out musical numbers as “Goin’ Courtin’,” “When You’re In Love” and “Wonderful, Wonderful Day.” She would later appear onstage in the role, partnering again with Keel.

Appearing throughout the rest of the 1950s in such films as Athena, Deep In My Heart and Hit the Deck, Powell soon made her way to television, including a starring role in a TV adaptation of Meet Me in St. Louis (again in a role associated with Garland), an unsold 1961 pilot for her own The Jane Powell Show, and numerous appearances on The Red Skelton Hour and other variety shows. She made various appearances in the late 1970s and early ’80s on The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, and recurred throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s on Growing Pains as the mother of star Alan Thicke’s Mike Seaver.

Her final credited TV performance was a 2002 episode of Law & Order: SVU, in which she played a nursing home resident suffering from elder abuse.

Among her many stage credits was a starring role in the 1973 Broadway production of Irene, and, in 2000, a role in the Off Broadway production of Bill C. Davis’ comedy-drama Avow. Powell starred in national touring productions of, among others, Marriage-Go-Round, Same Time, Next Year and Chapter Two.

In 2003, Powell appeared in a Chicago production of a musical that would become among theater’s most storied titles: Stephen Sondheim’s Bounce, which had begun life Off Broadway four years earlier as Wise Guys. For the Chicago production at the Goodman Theatre, Bounce was directed by Harold Prince, choreographed by Michael Arnold and starred Richard Kind, Howard McGillin, Powell, Herndon Lackey, Gavin Creel and Michele Pawk.

Powell and the rest of the Chicago cast soon traveled to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where reviews for the show were lukewarm. Bounce never opened in New York, but a much rewritten version, retitled Road Show, was staged Off Broadway by The Public Theater in 2008, with Alma Cuervo filling the role that had been played by Powell.

Beginning in 2007, Powell occasionally performed with the cross-genre orchestral band Pink Martini, appearing with the group in their shared hometown of Portland, Oregon, as well as at New York City’s Lincoln Center and the Hollywood Bowl.

In 1988, Powell married former child star and longtime publicist Moore (known as a young actor on the “Our Gang” shorts as Dickie Moore) in what would be the actress’ fifth, final and longest marriage. Following his death in 2015, Powell permanently relocated from their Manhattan apartment to their second home in Wilton.

She is survived by children Geary Anthony Steffen III, Suzanne Steffen, and Lindsay Cavalli and granddaughters Skye Cavalli and Tia Cavalli.

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Jane Powell was a beautiful singer, actress and a very good dancer. She held her own against Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding. Howard Keel got away without doing any dancing in 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, but she did dance with a couple of the brothers.  I adore her and will miss her.

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37 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Lovely lady. She will undoubtedly get a  memorial tribute on TCM.

She's great in LUXURY LINER, NANCY GOES TO RIO and RICH YOUNG AND PRETTY.

Rest in peace.

4fac86de-1439-435b-8b04-39c1d84129f3_4_5

She was a beautiful blue-eyed soprano who never lost her youthful outlook and surprisingly, for performer noted for singing, she could keep up with Fred Astaire step for step.

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1 hour ago, MikaelaArsenault said:

https://deadline.com/2021/09/jane-powell-dead-obituary-actress-royal-wedding-seven-brides-for-seven-brothers-was-92-1234838168/

Jane Powell Dies: Hollywood Golden Age Actress & ‘Royal Wedding’ Star Was 92

Jane Powell, who made her screen debut with W.C. Fields, danced with Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding, was one of seven brides for seven brothers in the classic 1954 film musical, sang “Buttons and Bows” at President Harry S. Truman’s Inaugural Ball and was a bridesmaid at the first of Elizabeth Taylor’s weddings, died of natural causes today at her home in Wilton, Connecticut. She was 92.

Susan Granger, a friend of the actress and spokesperson for her family, told Deadline that Powell died peacefully at the house she shared for many years with her husband, the actor and publicist Dick Moore, who died in 2015.

Powell, one of the last surviving stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, continued to appear on stage well into the 21st Century, making her career among her generation’s sturdiest.

Born Suzanne Lorraine Burce in Portland, Oregon, Powell was already a locally successful singer – she had toured her home state as an “Oregon Victory Girl” to sell World War II war bonds – when she moved to Hollywood and signed on as a contract player with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Her film debut came in 1944 with MGM’s Song of the Open Road, in which she played a fictionalized version of herself – a teenage singer who joins up with such show-biz stars of the day as Edgar Bergen (with Charlie McCarthy), Big Band leader Sammy Kaye and W.C. Fields. (In what is thought to have been a largely improvised exchange, Fields hands a microphone to Powell with the immortal line, “Here you are, my little kumquat.”)

Powell cemented her popularity and growing fame with roles in 1945’s Delightfully Dangers, 1948’s A Date With Judy and, in 1951, a career-defining role opposite Astaire in Royal Wedding, in which the two played a brother-sister dance act (one of the duo’s musical numbers features what is considered the longest song title in any MGM musical: “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life?”). For the film, Powell had replaced an ailing Judy Garland, who herself had replaced June Allyson.

Several musical films followed, leading to Powell’s second signature role as Milly Pontipee in 1954’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Paired with Howard Keel as the primary bride and brother, Powell performed such stand-out musical numbers as “Goin’ Courtin’,” “When You’re In Love” and “Wonderful, Wonderful Day.” She would later appear onstage in the role, partnering again with Keel.

Appearing throughout the rest of the 1950s in such films as Athena, Deep In My Heart and Hit the Deck, Powell soon made her way to television, including a starring role in a TV adaptation of Meet Me in St. Louis (again in a role associated with Garland), an unsold 1961 pilot for her own The Jane Powell Show, and numerous appearances on The Red Skelton Hour and other variety shows. She made various appearances in the late 1970s and early ’80s on The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, and recurred throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s on Growing Pains as the mother of star Alan Thicke’s Mike Seaver.

Her final credited TV performance was a 2002 episode of Law & Order: SVU, in which she played a nursing home resident suffering from elder abuse.

Among her many stage credits was a starring role in the 1973 Broadway production of Irene, and, in 2000, a role in the Off Broadway production of Bill C. Davis’ comedy-drama Avow. Powell starred in national touring productions of, among others, Marriage-Go-Round, Same Time, Next Year and Chapter Two.

In 2003, Powell appeared in a Chicago production of a musical that would become among theater’s most storied titles: Stephen Sondheim’s Bounce, which had begun life Off Broadway four years earlier as Wise Guys. For the Chicago production at the Goodman Theatre, Bounce was directed by Harold Prince, choreographed by Michael Arnold and starred Richard Kind, Howard McGillin, Powell, Herndon Lackey, Gavin Creel and Michele Pawk.

Powell and the rest of the Chicago cast soon traveled to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where reviews for the show were lukewarm. Bounce never opened in New York, but a much rewritten version, retitled Road Show, was staged Off Broadway by The Public Theater in 2008, with Alma Cuervo filling the role that had been played by Powell.

Beginning in 2007, Powell occasionally performed with the cross-genre orchestral band Pink Martini, appearing with the group in their shared hometown of Portland, Oregon, as well as at New York City’s Lincoln Center and the Hollywood Bowl.

In 1988, Powell married former child star and longtime publicist Moore (known as a young actor on the “Our Gang” shorts as Dickie Moore) in what would be the actress’ fifth, final and longest marriage. Following his death in 2015, Powell permanently relocated from their Manhattan apartment to their second home in Wilton.

She is survived by children Geary Anthony Steffen III, Suzanne Steffen, and Lindsay Cavalli and granddaughters Skye Cavalli and Tia Cavalli.

This Hurts. 😣😓😓😓😓🙁😓.

 

 

Took Part in - One of the BEST Musical Numbers, EVER. With Mr Fred Astaire.

Sucky Sucky Sucky News.

 

 

 

Rest in Peace.

💃👙🎨🧸🕊🌌.

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Sorry to hear this about a lovely and talented show biz trouper.

However, Heaven may have just gained an angelic voice. I also like to think that a former screen partner named Fred will be waiting for her and welcoming the lady with a few dance steps.

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1 minute ago, TomJH said:

Sorry to hear this about a lovely and talented show biz trouper.

However, Heaven may have just gained an angelic voice. I also like to think that a former screen partner named Fred will be waiting for her and welcoming the lady with a few dance steps.

And They Can Dance (and Sing) Over a Hat in Heaven.

🎩🕊🧸🎨💃🕊🌌.

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I loved her & her films. She was on one of the TCM cruises that I attended. It was pretty good, but it was a time when her husband was very ill & it was sad hearing her speak about it. She was still very lovely. 

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Jane Powell must have been the last of the famous MGM musical stars from the Golden Age.  She introduced her signature song, "It's A Most Unusual Day," in 1949's A Date with Judy, based on a famous radio program.  But she claimed her favorite of her musicals was 1950's Two Weeks with Love because it was the first movie  that allowed her to play an adult.  After June Allyson dropped out of Royal Wedding because of her pregnancy, and Judy Garland dropped out because of illness, Jane Powell was handed the role, proving she could hold her own dancing with Fred Astaire.  Her rendition of "Too Late Now" received an Oscar nod for Best Song.   One of her last musicals was 1957's delightful The Girl Most Likely at RKO.   In her first musical, The Song of the Open Road, she played a character named Jane Powell  and, according to her, liked the name so much, she changed her real name, Suzanne Burce, to Jane Powell.   As you can probably tell, I am and will continue to be a big fan of this beautiful singer~~Jane Powell.

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Despite her success, and the high regard of her, she was still an underappreciated actress.  She lacked the nuclear bomb presence of other actors.  But her acting was always bright, energetic and solid, and was visible every moment she was on screen.  And when she was, she was the center of attention, holding her own (and not barely, thank you very much) with anyone she was paired with, from the likes of Fred Astaire, oozing sophistication and class all over the place, to Howard Keel, munching up the scenery with his machismo. 

I laugh every time I see this:

 

How has this not become a standard?:

And this one of the great moments in cinema:

Adam brings new wife Millie home to his high-country farm, where she meets more than she expected. We follow along with her in the turbulent crescendo of revelations about brothers, and household disorder.  Stanley Donen plays on our stereotypic assumptions leading us to feel sorry for Millie and the shameful way she has been misled.  And at the end of the scene as the camera pulls away, showing her small, isolated, confronted with a daunting burden, as she sets her books, her beloved father's legacy down to the table, everyone watching expects her to break down sobbing at Adam's cruel deception.  But just at that very moment, she pushes up her sleeves and starts tackling the challenge.  She doesn't feel sorry for herself, she doesn't weep and blame others for tricking her.  No one forced her to marry Adam, and she wasn't someone to be taken in by fast talk.  She was made mistress of a realm and it was up to her to make it what she would, a horror or a haven.  Jane Powell beautifully underplays her reactions, allowing us to be the real victims of a deception.  Issues about conventional gender roles can be raised, and I wouldn't dispute them, especially considering when the movie was made.  But it also shows her as a person of strong character, taking responsibility for her own actions and their consequences, and responding brilliantly.  That's some kind of woman.

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Always liked Jane Powell.  She seemed like a very nice, down to earth person in interviews I remember seeing of her.  Some people might have been miffed at being seen as 'third choice' to take a role as she did in "Royal Wedding", but if someone thinks you are good enough and you have the chance to dance with the likes of Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly when they were still on top of their game, why wouldn't you?  It would be easy to set aside your ego for an opportunity such as that, and fortunately for her, Jane Powell never seemed to come off that way and be seen as 'full of herself'.  Credit to someone like Astaire too for taking on a relative newcomer to show business whose principal stock and trade was as a singer.

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8 hours ago, slaytonf said:

That's some kind of woman.

How'd she pack so much talent into such a tiny package?

Jane Powell was a tiny powerhouse, she reminded me of Tinkerbell. She seemed to be level headed, a trait I find in most women from the PNW that ended up in show business. She was so perfect as Millie in Seven Brides and equally perfect dancing with Fred Astaire. Joyous.

RIP with your beloved Dickie.

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