Eleanor Powell
October 24, 2009 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Eleanor Powell was born to dance.

Ann Miller - who named Powell as the inspiration for her dancing career - credited the popularity of Powell's late-30s films with helping keeping MGM from bankruptcy.

The quality of her dancing even intimidated co-star Fred Astaire - who wrote in his autobiography:

She 'put 'em down like a man', no ricky-ticky-sissy stuff with Ellie. She really knocked out a tap dance in a class by herself.
posted by Joe Beese (15 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for posting this. Had it been a gray and dreary day, it would have cheered me up. As it is, sunny and unseasonably warm here in merry old Oakland, it is just the icing on the cake!

Now, if only I could spot . . .
posted by emhutchinson at 3:20 PM on October 24, 2009

I love Powell's dancing; her acting left a bit to be desired. And I think just about every late-30s film star is credited for keeping his/her respective studio from bankruptcy.
posted by goatdog at 3:28 PM on October 24, 2009

If you aren't familiar with Ann Miller's dancing, you might remember her as Coco, the strange landlord in Mulholland Drive -- it was her final film role.
posted by hermitosis at 3:30 PM on October 24, 2009

It's a gray and dreary evening here, and this was very cheering. Thanks!
posted by EvaDestruction at 3:59 PM on October 24, 2009

And in heels!
posted by The Whelk at 4:03 PM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is fantastic. Best of the web, even.
posted by noahpoah at 4:10 PM on October 24, 2009

Two more Powell scenes worth watching:

1. Fascinating Rhythm from Lady Be Good. (The scene opens with the Berry Brothers, a famous soft-shoe flash act.)
2. Begin the Beguine from Broadway Melody of 1940. (This is the full version with all the vocals--Powell and Astaire do a couple of duets, of which the most famous begins around 6:12.)
posted by thomas j wise at 5:01 PM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Er, pas de deux.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:02 PM on October 24, 2009

I don't have anything to say except great post. Favorited so hard.
posted by pts at 6:57 PM on October 24, 2009

Thank you for bringing this woman to my attention.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:18 PM on October 24, 2009

I love the clips where she's in tails.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:49 PM on October 24, 2009

If you liked this post you'll love Connie Willis's novel Remake, which is an extended meditation on that pas de deux from Begin the Beguine.
posted by rdc at 9:02 PM on October 24, 2009

She's fantastic.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:37 PM on October 24, 2009

I love the clips where she's in tails.

Me too! Eleanor as at her best in Broadway Melody of 1940. But on the You Tube mashup -- that song "Dance Me to the End of Love" by Madeleine Peyroux is ugly, depressing and lazy-- everything Eleanor Powell was not. She was a bright, metallic flower, who blossomed to the music of her own period.
posted by Faze at 7:53 AM on October 25, 2009

I suspect that Fred Astaire's cameramen used special lenses to make him look taller and slimmer. Check out how Eleanor loses a lot of weight in her hips and thighs, when she dances with Fred.
posted by RichardS at 5:27 PM on October 25, 2009

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