William Powell Bio Bits, Page 2
Powell c.1912

In 1922, at the age of 30, Powell was spotted by film director Albert Parker and broke into films playing an evil henchman of Professor Moriarty's in the John Barrymore Sherlock Holmes. The next 10 years or so saw Powell in many, many films, usually as a slimy villain. And even a sheik!

But by the late '20s he was starting to be noticed.The coming of sound films no doubt contributed-- Powell had a good, resonant speaking voice and the transition from silents was to his advantage. By 1930-31 he had progressed to playing romantic leads opposite Kay Francis and Carole Lombard.  Powell and Lombard fell in love and married in 1931. (Click here for news item)  Although the marriage was short-lived, the two remained close friends until Lombard's untimely death in an airplane crash in 1942.

with Lombard


with Loy

By 1934, Powell had made films for Paramount and Warner Bros, but his career was pretty much at a standstill. Powell took the initiative and went over to MGM, where he gave a brilliant performance in Manhattan Melodrama, opposite Clark Gable and...Myrna Loy.  Director Woody Van Dyke immediately picked up on the chemistry Powell had with Ms. Loy, and the duo were next cast in the roles that would make them superstars: Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man.  As the happy-go-lucky sleuthing couple, William and Myrna delighted audiences with their affectionate sparring and a new screen team was born, a pairing that would last for 14 films in as many years.


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