July 29th, 2008

carole lombard 02
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116 for Bill, four from TCM

It was 116 years ago today in Pittsburgh that one of my favorite actors, William Powell, was born. There's just something special about the way he conducts himself on screen...so urbane, so dashing. And that voice, so debonair and erudite.

Cary Grant's appeal was somewhat similar, but there was something that set him apart from we mere mortals. It tales a leap of faith to imagine yourself as Cary Grant, but it's comparatively easy to project yourself as Powell. He was handsome, but not in an intimidating way.

Nevertheless, Powell was pretty successful with the ladies. He was the first husband of Carole Lombard...

...then romanced Jean Harlow before her sudden death at age 26. About 2 1/2 years after Harlow's death, he married MGM starlet Diana Lewis, to whom he was wed for 44 years until his death in 1984 at age 91.

Today, Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. is saluting Powell with four of his films. Festivities begin at 1 p.m. Eastern with the 1933 romantic comedy "Double Harness" with Ann Harding (a film out of circulation for decades until TCM restored it and clarified its legal status)...

Next, at 2:15, his breakthrough film with Myrna Loy (and Asta), "The Thin Man"...

How about Bill and Myrna as characters other than Nick and Nora? You'll see it at 4 p.m., in the 1941 comedy "Love Crazy"...

And finally at 6, Powell and Loy are joined by Harlow, Spencer Tracy and Walter Connolly for the classic "Libeled Lady," from Powell's apex year, 1936.

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