William Powell Bio Bits, Page 3

with Jean Harlow

During the filming of Reckless (1935) Powell's friendship with Jean Harlow developed into a serious romance.  He was reluctant to marry again, however (no doubt due to the failure of his first two forays into matrimony) and, against Ms. Harlow's wishes, delayed any plans in that direction --- until it was too late.  In 1937, at the age of 26, Jean Harlow died suddenly of uremic poisoning.  Powell was plunged into shock and depression and was unable to work for some time.


In 1938, disaster struck a second time when Powell was diagnosed with cancer.  Fortunately, it was treatable, and after long months of recuperation he returned to work in 1939's Another Thin Man. 

 

 

don't they look cute? In 1941 his fortunes improved even more when he met and married Diana Lewis, and this time the marriage was a happy and successful one, lasting 44 years and ending only with Powell's death.

Powell continued working through the 40's and 50's, most notably in Life With Father (1947), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), and his final film, Mr. Roberts in 1955.  At 63, Powell decided to retire from films, and he and his wife moved to Palm Springs where they lived for many long and happy years.
Click here for photos.

Powell's health began to fail as he approached the age of 90, but he remained sharp and in good spirits until his death on March 5, 1984 at the age of 91.  He was laid to rest in Desert Memorial Park,  Cathedral City, CA.

 

 

All the clichés apply: "there will never be another like him", "they don't make them like that any more", etc., but there is nothing cliché about William Powell's work.  He was a debonair sophisticate not afraid to be ridiculous or silly, a deft comedian who could also handle drama and pathos with rare sincerity.  William Powell was a truly fine actor, and a gentleman both on and off screen.   We are lucky to have had him grace the movies.

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