Dick Powell Biography

PHOTO: Dick Powell

Born in Mountain View, Arkansas, Powell attended Little Rock College in Arkansas, before starting 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 migrated to Pittsburgh, where he found great local success as the Master of Ceremonies at the Enright Theatre, and the Stanley Theatre.

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.

In 1944, he abruptly switched to noir detective roles, first starring as Philip Marlowe in 'Murder, My Sweet'. He became a popular tough-guy lead, appearing in movies such as 'Cornered', 'Johnny O'Clock', and 'The Tall Target'. Even when he appeared in lighter fare, such as 'The Reformer and the Redhead' and 'Mrs. Mike', he never sang in his later roles.

In the 1950s, Powell produced and directed several B-movies, and was one of the founders of Four Star Television, appearing in and supervising several shows for that company.

Powell died on 2 January 1963 of stomach cancer, one of many of the cast and crew of the 1956 movie, 'The Conqueror', who died of the disease. 'The Conqueror' had been filmed in Utah near an atomic test site. Powell was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.

Powell's second wife was Joan Blondell, and his third wife was June Allyson.

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