The Great Ziegfeld won the Best Picture Oscar for 1936, and MGM certainly poured all its lavish production values into it.

Powell is Florenz Ziegfeld, the consummate showman who "glorified the American girl" in his Broadway extravaganzas in the Teens and 20s.  The real Ziegfeld's widow, actress Billie Burke (best known as the Good Witch in Wizard of Oz), personally chose the urbane Powell for the role, and who better than Myrna Loy to portray Ms. Burke herself?

The first Mrs. Ziegfeld, singer Anna Held, is played by Luise Rainer.  She won the Oscar for Best Actress that year, it is said for one scene alone: the lengthy telephone monologue where she hides her pain while congratulating her "Flo" on his second marriage.

 Powell said of his role: "I tried to get across the essential spirit of the man --- his love for show business, his exquisite taste, his admiration for the beauty of women.  He was financially impractical but esthetically impeccable -- a unique genius in his chosen field."

The Great Ziegfeld

Powell became Ziegfeld in the public's mind, so much so that he was called upon to repeat the role ten years later in Ziegfeld Follies.  He portrays the showman up in Heaven, speculating on what he could do with all the talent available at MGM in those days....  Hey, it's the movies - anything's possible....

  more Ziegfeld photos

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Powell Filmography | Powell-Loy Films