Eleanor Powell was born on November 21st, 1912 in Springfield, Massachusetts. At the age of two, her father abandoned her family, leaving her mother working hard to make ends meet. Her mother had told her that her father had died. At twenty three years of age, her father had re-introduced himself to her.
She was a very shy kid, so her mother enrolled her in dance lessons. Eleanor took ballet and acrobatic lessons. Surprisingly enough, she didn’t take tap lessons until a bit later in her life, around the mid-1920’s.
At eleven years old, she was discovered by Gus Edwards and performed in a dinner show called the Vaudeville Kiddie Revue. In her teenage years she could often be found dancing ...view middle of the document...
Her style is described as “powerful”, “aggressive”, “vigorously athletic”, and “rapid-fire” with “high velocity footwork. After watching some videos of her dancing, I agreed with what everyone was saying. She makes tap look easy and effortless. Even with her powerful style, she still managed to have grace and elegance. This wouldn’t have been the case if she didn’t practice. Eleanor was a perfectionist. She would practice all the time. Her son recalled her practicing 12 hours a day in her MGM bungalow.
With Eleanor’s enthusiasm and incredible footwork, she was often seen as a solo dancer. There were only a few select male dancers that she would be paired with. One of them was Fred Astaire. In fact, Astaire said that Eleanor was the only female dancer that could out dance him. He also commented on how mannish and powerful of a dancer she was. In the dance ‘Begin the Beguine’, her and Astaire practiced the arm work nonstop, so that they were perfectly synchronized. They would often get done with a take on film and always ask if they could do it one more time.
Powell was a very nice and genuine person, and never let her stardom get the best of her. At the time, stars would never be seen with people that had lesser value than them on set. Eleanor ignored this, and was friends with people from the crews. She also had great values, being a devoted Christian. She even had a television show called ‘The Faith of Our Children’ which aired from 1953 to 1955. Also, in her time there were still issues with racism. Eleanor rose above it and was also friends with black people. Some even appeared on her television show. She was known as a very caring and kind person. Everyone knew her as an innocent girl, never having a boyfriend. Her one and only true love was her first husband.
In 1943, Canadian actor named Glenn Ford became her husband. Not long after, she retired from MGM to focus on creating a family, charity organizations, and religious work. In 1945, her first son, Peter Ford, was born on February 5th. Eleanor only appeared on film a couple times after her retirement. Her final time on film was in 1950 in ‘Duchess of Idaho’. In 1959, her and Glenn divorced. It is said that he was often unfaithful to Eleanor during their marriage.
After their divorce, times became tough for Eleanor and Peter. To get money, she started dancing in night clubs again. Having hardly any money, they didn’t eat well. Together they grew a vegetable garden. People thought it was a hobby, but it was really so that they could eat and have food on the table.
Eleanor performed in a total of fourteen films during...