Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of you, from me and Dick Powell. Here is a Christmas card that Dick sent to friends when he was a greenhorn in Hollywood. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Answers

Are you ready for the answers to the trivia questions? Here they are:

1. Mary Brian
  • Newspapers quickly began hinting at a romance between Mary and Dick when he appeared in Blessed Event. It was typical for the studios to drum up such rumors for publicity, so the two were encouraged to be seen together in nightclubs. Although theirs was a friendship and not a romance, they did very much enjoy dancing together. 
  • Mary appeared in A&E's Biography special about Dick Powell. This is where her comment about him always being in good humor comes from.

2. Aaron Spelling
  • Spelling was hired as a young man to write introductions for Dick on The Dick Powell Show. Dick took the beginner under his wing and taught him what he knew about television, but trusted his employee to think for himself and to contribute his good ideas. Dick called Aaron "Skinny" and Aaron called Dick his mentor. This had obvious results, as Spelling went on to become one of the most prolific television producers from the 1960s through the 90s, with shows like Charlie's Angels, Beverly Hills 90210, and 7th Heaven to his credit.

3. James Cagney
  • Cagney and Dick appeared in both Footlight Parade and A Midsummer Night's Dream together. Both were major departures from Cagney's image as a gangster at Warner Brothers, and both showed his tremendous range.
  • Cagney and Dick's second wife Joan Blondell were something of a screen team in the 1930s. They began in films together in the 1930 film Sinner's Holiday, based on the play Penny Arcade that they appeared in together on Broadway. They went on to make 5 other films including Cagney's breakout role in The Public Enemy.

4. Edward Dmytryk
  • When RKO approached director Dmytryk about starring Dick Powell, who had always been a crooner, in his latest film, a detective film, he was hesitant. Powell had been hounding the studio to play against type, but they kept resisting. Of course, Dmytryk and Powell worked well together, and the adaptation of Raymond Chandler's Farewell My Lovely was a huge hit. 
  • The success of Murder My Sweet sent the actor/director pair immediately into another noir drama called Cornered.

5. Sybil Jason
  • Sybil Jason is one of the lesser known child stars of the 1930s, but she appeared in quite a few films, most notably alongside Al Jolson in The Singing Fool. 
  • She and Dick were to appear in The Broadway Gondolier together when she was pulled off that project to appear in Little Big Shot. She was disappointed that she missed her chance to star with him, but tried to keep in touch. Later when he was ill, she sent him one of the handkerchiefs he gave her with a note that said she was coming to claim it soon. Unfortunately, she did not make it in time.

6. Lucille Ball
  • Lucy appeared opposite Dick in Meet the People, a movie that June Allyson had a small role in. Lucy knew June from appearing in Best Foot Forward and introduced the starlet to her leading man. The two hit it off and Dick began giving June acting and career advice, and the rest, of course, is history.
  • Meet the People was the last movie Dick made before reinventing himself as the tough detective type in Murder My Sweet.

7. Pilar Wayne
  • Pilar was a Peruvian actress who met John Wayne when she came to America to dub a film in English. The two married in 1954, so she was married to Wayne when he and Dick filmed The Conqueror. 
  • Their friendship carried on off the set and the Waynes stayed in touch throughout Dick's trial with cancer. Sadly, both men contracted it, and rumors still abound which say the location of shooting for The Conqueror is the culprit.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dick Powell Trivia

Dick Powell had a long career in the entertainment industry, and he met a lot of famous people who had plenty to say about him. See if you can guess who said what:

1. "He always seemed to be in good humor. He gave the impression of always enjoying what he was doing."
     HINT: This starlet was romantically linked with Powell in the newspapers.

2. "Dick hated wearing suits. He was a sportscoat man."
     HINT: This man called Dick his mentor.

3. "Dick Powell had a wonderful way of singing 'When Irish Eyes are Smiling' off key. It was one of the funniest things I've ever heard. In order to sing off key deliberately, one must have excellent pitch, and Dick used to kill me with this crazy thing."
     HINT: He appeared in two movies with Dick, but was more often co-starring with Joan Blondell.

4. "We both bought airplanes and we learned to fly together and we used to go off sometimes into the desert to some stop you know for breakfast or something. He loved all those kind of things."
     HINT: He directed Dick in a role that revitalized his career.

5. "About a year later, I was rushed to the hospital for an operation-- tonsillitis or something-- and when I got home there were two packages from Dick Powell for me. One was a beautiful little evening purse with my initials in gold, and in the other package were a dozen handkerchiefs with my name on them."
     HINT: This child star was originally going to appear in Broadway Gondolier until she was assigned to a different picture.

6. "Dick didn't make noise about his acting, or his marriage troubles, or even his losing fight with cancer. A sane, sensible, stoic man, he was also a loving husband and father and showman of rare ability."
     HINT: She re-introduced Dick to one of his wives.

7. "I'll never forget the day Dick Powell, who had finally given up smoking after being told he had cancer, wryly requested a cigarette sandwich when I asked if I could get him anything."
     HINT: She was married to one of the most famous Hollywood icons of all time.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Now that Thanksgiving is over and all of the great Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are upon us, it is time to start thinking of Christmas, many people's favorite holiday of the year.

Enjoy this photo of Dick digging up a Christmas tree of his very own. In sunny California? Well they like Christmastime too, only they celebrate without the snow. This comes from a magazine archive that apparently only wanted a small clip of Dick's face.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gutes Geburtstag Dick Powell!

It has been 48 years since Dick Powell passed away, but he is still remembered and loved today. Fourteen people stopped by Find a Grave to leave virtual flowers for Dick on his birthday. Turner Classic Movies showed four of his films to honor him. One of those films was You Can't Run Away From It, a movie starring Dick's 3rd wife June Allyson which Dick directed. Here he is on the set of that film celebrating June's birthday with their children.

June's autobiography illustrates one of the sweetest romantic relationships in Hollywood, one which lasted until Dick's death. The book has a section called Richard, but in reality most of the book is permeated with his presence and her devotion to him. "I was madly in love with Richard," she wrote. "By now I was calling him Richard though I was the only one who ever did."

The book includes a note that Ricky wrote just after his father passed away. It said, "...but when I go into his room to kiss Dad he isn't there any more to kiss to to hold his hand and to hear him sing the wonderful tunes."

June wrote, "The world was ugly without Richard."

"He was a joy to live with," June said. "Richard usually acted as if he didn't have a care in the world... He was always either whistling or singing."

Luckily we have his many works, from his films to his records to his radio recordings, so that for a little while Dick is alive again and there to entertain us and to make us smile.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Listen, That's Me on the Radio!

With Linda Darnell for Lux Radio Theater

In honor of the approaching anniversary of Dick Powell's birth (If he were still alive, he would be turning 107 on Monday), I have been invited to be a guest on two radio programs.

With Bette Davis

The first is on Yesterday USA with Walden Hughes and his co-host Patricia on Saturday, November 12 at 10:30 p.m. EST. Click here to listen. I was a guest once on this show before and I was delighted to receive an invitation to chat again.

The second show is a pre-recorded broadcast for Same Time, Same Station with Larry Gassman. It will be available Sunday, November 13. You can stream it here or wait until next Saturday to hear it on Yesterday USA at 3 p.m. EST. I had a lot of fun doing this interview and I hope you enjoy listening.

With Olivia de Havilland and Frances Langford for Hollywood Hotel

Each show will run about a half an hour and cover a wide range of topics, from Dick's music, radio, film and television careers to his upbringing, his home life, and his impact after his death. Please join me in paying tribute to this wonderful actor!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Let's Not Do That Again

When Dick Powell was cast in A Midsummer Night's Dream, he was nervous about the part. That year he was listed as one of the top ten box office stars, so it was no wonder why he was cast in one of the most star-studded ensembles from the Warner Brothers studio. However, Dick had no theatrical training and did not understand his lines. He struggled through each day of shooting, feeling more and more self-conscious. His outrageous costumes did not help his confidence.

He gets through the film remarkably well considering, but it is no wonder Dick was never asked to do Shakespeare again. His best scenes are his tussles with Ross Alexander, an actor with a too-brief career due to his early suicide. He and Dick were paired in three films together and Alexander shows a knack for comedy. It rubs off on Dick here and the two garner quite a few laughs. Dick's romantic interest Olivia de Havilland fared quite well and due to her participation in this film, she became a great star.

Child actor Mickey Rooney also received good notices as the energetic Puck. Like Powell, Rooney had a hard time taking the part seriously. When he was asked not to participate in any sports during the shooting, he went on a ski vacation with some friends. On his way down a hill, he fell and broke his leg, forcing the director to find creative ways to hide his cast. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Tribute to Bob Powell

On April 18, 2010, my friend Bob Powell passed away. I planned a tribute to him to be posted on the anniversary of his death on, but the website went down that very day. Now here it is six months later, and my website is still down, but I think it is high time he had his tribute.

Bob had lung cancer and knew he did not have long to live once he was diagnosed.

I was surprised when he told me about it because his reaction was so casual. He felt he had lived a full life-- he had just celebrated his 50 year wedding anniversary with his wife Caryl-- and he accepted his fate.

Bob reached out to me after finding my website. He was the son of Dick's brother Howard, and he remembered Dick and had a nice memorabilia collection. Although I was a stranger, Bob offered to lend me his large scrapbook collection. He also got me in contact with Dick's children Pamela and Richard.

He was a wonderful man, very kind and generous and genuine, all qualities that sound cliché, but which are so hard to find in actuality. I feel honored for having known him.

Today we remember Bob Powell.
Bob and Caryl

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Das Auto

I was watching one of my favorite TV shows the other day, American Pickers, and Frank and Mike found a 1929 roadster. What does this have to do with Dick Powell you ask? Well, it reminded me of the car that Dick Powell drove into Hollywood for the first time, a canary yellow roadster!

Now I have never seen photos of Dick's car, so I can only make assumptions about what it looked like, but wouldn't it be awesome to find out that this is the car that Dick drove? It would bring up the value on Frank's car, which he was told he overpaid for by the appraiser. (I would have thought it was worth more too.)

Speaking of cars though, a friend named Bob e-mailed me with a list of the cars Dick owned over the years complete with photos. I will now share them with you.

Here is Dick's 1932 Packard Convertible Victoria.

Here he is in a 1934 DeSoto series SE Airflow sedan. (DeSotos always remind me of Groucho Marx. "Tell 'em Groucho sent you!")

Dick and wife Joan Blondell in a 1936 Cord 810.

And this is possibly his most famous car, a 1953 Nash Healy Convertible. It was used to film episodes of Superman and later Sabrina and The Fast and the Furious movies.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm Back! (Sort of)

I have had many inquiries about my website, and whether I have chosen to shut it down. The answer is NO, a million times NO. 

In April, I planned a tribute to my friend Bob Powell on the anniversary of his death. That morning, I logged onto the website to update, and it was down.  While I was frustrated, this was nothing new to me. The site had gone down for a few days at a time before. I planned to wait it out.

But the site never came back up. I asked my friend, whose server was hosting the website, what was going on, and he informed me that the server crashed and it would be very expensive to fix it.

The crash seemed a mild blessing in disguise, as I was planning my wedding, and the fewer distractions I had, the better. But now that the wedding is over, I am anxious to get back to Dick Powell. So while the site is down, this will be its temporary home.

Thanks for the inquiries. I really appreciate all of your support.