September 19, 2021

Sad news for fans of classic film musicals: One of the last surviving stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era, Jane Powell, passed away Thursday of natural causes at 92. Powell had a very long career in movies, stage and TV, but is most famous for the classic MGM musicals “Royal Wedding” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Some of her other notable films include “Hit The Deck,” “Small Town Girl” and “A Date With Judy.”

Powell became a star at a time when operatic sopranos such as Jeannette McDonald, Deanna Durbin and Kathryn Grayson could actually become movie stars. She never learned to read music, but despite being only 5-foot-1, she had a powerful coloratura voice. I assume she must’ve had to stand on a pretty tall box to do love scenes with Howard Keel. I had the honor of meeting him once. I’m 6-1, and I had to look up at his face as I shook his hand.

Younger readers might know Powell for her many TV appearances, including a recurring role as Alan Thicke’s mother on “Growing Pains.” Powell’s career spanned 67 years, from her first movie, “Song of the Open Road,” in 1944 to her final guest-hosting stint on Turner Classic Movies in 2011. She even performed in concert with the hot lounge group Pink Martini at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010.

Fun Fact: even though she was so famous as the sunny “girl next door” that her autobiography was called “The Girl Next Door and How She Grew,” she was married five times. I guess she lived next door to a lot of people at one time or another.

If you’d like to check out Jane Powell at her best, stream “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” a fantastic musical with a wonderfully politically-incorrect plot. Or pick up a copy of “Royal Wedding” (the movie in which Fred Astaire dances up the wall and across the ceiling.) It’s out of copyright, so you can find very cheap DVDs. Just make sure you get a good transfer since some of them look like you’re watching it at the drive-in through a dirty windshield

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Comments 1-7 of 7

  • Carole Wilson

    09/21/2021 07:52 AM

    Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was a childhood favorite & remains so today, I have a great dvd. She was multitalented & a continuous sweetheart. RIP, Jane.

  • Clay Barrett

    09/21/2021 06:54 AM

    My wife and I raised our kids on musicals like "seven brides for seven brothers". It was one of our favorites. Thank you for remembering her.

  • Barbara Hill

    09/20/2021 02:19 PM

    I saw Jane Powell in all her movies ( on TV). She was beautiful and had the most lovely voice. I really loved "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". It was funny, wholesome and sweet. I wish we had stars like Jane Powell and movies like she made now instead of the trash Hollywood puts out.

  • Gretchen Grant

    09/20/2021 01:46 PM

    My husband and I own the "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" DVD. We must watch it at least half a dozen times a year. A real feel good movie. My dad took the family to see the movie at the drive-in when I was ten. I have ALWAYS thought it was the most romantic movie ever made. The dancing is superb, and the songs are wonderful. R.I.P. Ms Powell

  • Melinda Smith

    09/20/2021 01:38 PM

    My father is 88 and she was his favorite star and singer. Even today he will stop what he's doing to watch her movies. When I told him she passed away he asked if I had anything on DVR so he could see her again. As I played Seven Brides for Seven Brothers I could see the joy in his face. What an incredible legacy to leave for her legions of adoring fans.

  • Phyllis J Treat

    09/20/2021 10:07 AM

    You died on my birthday, rest in peace, Heaven is hearing your music.

  • Connie Hamrah

    09/19/2021 05:24 PM

    Hi Mike, I always appreciate your mini obituary bios of the stars who have passed. I can tell you are a fan and enjoy sharing something special about the stars of the past.
    Thank you ,
    Connie Hamrah