Curly-haired actor, director, and producer, Powell worked as a vocalist and instrumentalist for bands (he had several hit records), and occasionally was an M.C. He debuted onscreen in 1932, at first as a crooner in '30s Warner Bros. backstage musicals, often opposite Ruby Keeler. After playing choir-boy-type leads for a decade, he made a surprising switch to dramatic roles in the 1940s, showing special skill as tough heroes or private eyes such as Philip Marlowe. Powell's last big-screen appearance was in Susan Slept Here (1954), in which he once again sang; he went on to appear frequently on TV. His career took another turn in the early '50s when he began producing and directing films; he was also a founder and president of Four Star Television, a prosperous TV production company. His second wife was actress Joan Blondell, with whom he appeared in Model Wife (1941) and I Want a Divorce (1940); his widow is actress June Allyson. In John Schlesinger's The Day of the Locust (1975) he was portrayed by his son, Dick Powell, Jr.
Biography by Rovi
- Made his first notable film appearance in the musical Blessed Event (1932) and was subsequently made a contract player by Warner Bros.
- Played clean-cut leads in many early Hollywood musicals, including 42nd Street (1933), costarring Ruby Keeler; they would reunite for several other successful films.
- Also had a knack for hard-boiled dramatic roles, such as Philip Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet (1944).
- Founded Four Star Television, which produced the series Four Star Playhouse in the 1950s; also produced and directed films.
- In the film The Day of the Locust (1975), he was portrayed by his son, Dick Jr.