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!
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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