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