William Powell was born William Horatio Powell on this day (July 29, 1892) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He passed away on March 5, 1984 at the age of 91.
His film career began in 1924 when he signed with Paramount Pictures. Although is first actual film appearance was in 1922 in Sherlock Holmes as foreman Wells. His final film appearance was in 1955 as Lt. Doc in Mister Roberts.
In 1934, he would go to MGM studios where he was teamed for the first time with Myrna Loy in Manhatten Melodrama. MGM would make him famous with the role of Nick Charles, private detective in The Thin Man. Between 1934 and 1947, he would appear as Nick Charles in six Thin Man Movies.
William Powell and Myrna Loy appeared in fourteen films together. Their partnership was one of Hollywood's most prolific on-screen pairings.
In 1915, he married Eileen Wilson, with whom he had his only child, William David Powell, before an amicable divorce in 1930. In 1931, Powell married actress Carole Lombard, they divorced in 1933. They remained on good terms and she was his co-star three years later in My Man Godfrey. Powell married for a final time in 1940 to Diana Lewis (a woman he had only known three weeks) and the remained married until his death in 1984.
He was engaged to Jean Harlow at the time of her death in 1937. Powell was devastated by her death and would take a year off before returning to films. Powell and Harlow met on the set of Reckless (1935) and began dating almost immediately. Ironically, in 1907, the Powell family moved to Kansas City and lived only a few blocks from Harlow's family, although they never met.
Nick Charles was not the first detective William Powell played. He was also Philo Vance in five movies including the Kennel Murder Case.
During William Powell's 33 film career, he was nominated for an academy award best actor in a leading role on three occassions (The Thin Man, My Man Godfrey and Life with Father). Although he did not win an oscar, he was the recipient of the New York Film Critics Circle award in 1947 for his performances in Life with Father and the Senator Was Indiscreet.
William Powell could play any role although he did best playing authority figures whether in comedies, dramas or thrillers.
William Powell had it all, charisma, charm, good looks, a wonderful smile