CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Monday, November 2, 2009

Actress Of The Month - Eleanor Powell

In my opinion Eleanor Powell was a very underrated actress with phenomenal dancing abilities. The fact that she only made a handful of films and basically retired by the time she was 32 only strengthens that fact. She was born in 1912 in Springfield, Massachusetts and got her professional start in Atlantic City clubs, from where she moved into in revue in New York at the Ritz Grill and Casino de Paris at the age of sixteen. She started her career on Broadway in 1929, where her machine-gun foot work gained her the title of world champion in tapping. In 1935 she came to Hollywood where she starred in the great MGM musicals in the late 1930s, establishing herself as a Queen of Ra-Ta-Taps. In spite of the fact that she was primarily a solo performer she also danced with Fred Astaire and George Murphy. She was given the lead in 1936's Born to Dance with Jimmy Stewart and danced her little body off. She also starred in a couple of Broadway Melody films co-starring the likes of Jack Benny, Red Skelton, and Robert Taylor. All her musicals were mainly done for MGM and she was one of their biggest stars. As far as pure dancing goes, Eleanor was the very best. I'd say she would rival a certain Ginger Rogers. She was that good. But moving into the 40's she kinda slowed down and then married actor Glenn Ford in 1943. They would have one child before they divorced in 1959. Her dancing abilities earned her the nickname The Queen of Tap Dancing and was acclaimed "The World's Greatest Feminine Tap and Rhythm Dancer" by the Dance Masters of America in the mid-1930s. TCM usually plays her movies quite frequently so if you ever get the chance to catch one, I recommend not missing them. She was quite amazing to see on film. If I had to rank her essential films to see I would say these are the ones to watch:

Eleanor Powell Essential Films:

Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940) with Fred Astaire
Born To Dance (1936) with Jimmy Stewart
Broadway Melody of 1936 (1936) with Jack Benny
Ship Ahoy (1942) with Red Skelton
Broadway Melody of 1938 (1938) with Robert Taylor

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