Happy 124th Birthday, William Powell!

William Powell was born William Horatio Powell 124 years ago today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Of all the actors of the Cladrite Era, it is Powell we would choose to model ourselves after. He came off as suave, sophisticated, elegant, witty, warm and decent. Here are 10 WP Did-You-Knows:

  • Though their marriage lasted just over two years, ending in divorce in 1933, Powell and Carole Lombard remained close friends until her death in 1942.
  • Powell and legendary baseball manager Casey Stengel attended Central High School in Kansas City, Missouri, together.
  • Harlean Carpenter, who would be known years later as Jean Harlow, lived just a few blocks away from Powell in Kansas City, but the two would not meet until they were both working actors in Hollywood.
  • Powell had been romantically involved with Harlow for two years at the time of her death and he paid for her funeral, spending $30,000.
  • William Powell made 13 pictures with Myrna Loy—14, if you count her cameo in The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947).
  • Politically, Powell was a Republican.
  • Powell’s favorite singer was Jo Stafford.
  • Powell had cancer of the rectum in 1938. An unconventional treatment that involved inserting platinum needles containing radium pellets into his body caused the cancer to go into remission and he lived for another 46 years.
  • Powell’s career was not threatened by the advent of talkies; on the contrary, they caused his star to rise.
  • Though Powell was nominated three times for the Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar, he never won.

Happy birthday, William Powell, wherever you may be!

William Powell

Spend New Year’s Eve with the Marxes & the Charleses

What are you doing New Year’s Eve? We’re not referencing the classic song of that name (a favorite of ours, by the way); we’re asking the question. Because Turner Classic Movies has arranged a day of programming that, for our money, negates any need to even think of joining the inebriated hordes who’ll be out on the town, paying too much to have too little fun. Stay home instead, and enjoy the Marx Brothers all day and Nick and Nora Charles (and Asta, too) all night!

The Marx Brothers‘ first—and finest—seven pictures will air (slightly out of order, which is a bit of a head-scratcher) beginning at 8:15 a.m. ET, followed by all six Thin Man movies (which are being shown in proper order) beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

It’s nearly 23 hours of programming, so you’ll want to get plenty of rest tonight.

New Year's Eve -- Duck Soup and After the Thin Man posters

In Their Words: William Powell

If allowed to experience the career of just one movie star from the Golden Era of Hollywood, we might just choose to be William Powell, who made suavity and elegance seem accessible and fun.

In any case, Powell, whose 121st birthday we missed yesterday, ranks near the top of the list of our favorite stars of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. A belated happy birthday, Bill; we’ll raise two toasts in your honor today.