The son and grandson of actors, Tyrone Power made his stage debut at age seven, appearing with his father in a stage production at San Gabriel Mission. After turning professional, Power supported himself between engagements working as a theater usher and other such odd jobs. Though in films as a bit actor since 1932, Power was not regarded as having star potential until appearing in Katherine Cornell's theatrical company in 1935. Signed by 20th Century Fox in 1936, Power was cast in a supporting role in the Simone Simon vehicle Girl's Dormitory; reaction from preview audiences to Fox's new contractee was so enthusiastic that Darryl F. Zanuck ordered that Power's part be expanded for the final release version. As Fox's biggest male star, Power was cast in practically every major production turned out by the studio from 1936 through 1940; though his acting skills were secondary to his drop-dead good looks, Power was a much better actor than he was given credit for at the time. He also handled his celebrity like an old pro; he was well liked by his co-stars and crew, and from all reports was an able and respected leader of men while serving as a Marine Corps officer during World War II. After the war, Power despaired at the thought of returning to pretty-boy roles, endeavoring to toughen his screen image with unsympathetic portrayals in such films as Nightmare Alley (1947) and Witness for the Prosecution. Though Power's popularity waned in the 1950s, he remained in demand for both stage and screen assignments. Like his father before him, Tyrone Power died "in harness," succumbing to a heart attack on the set of Solomon and Sheba (1958).
by Hal Erickson biography