Jane Powell, an iconic actress during the Golden Age of Hollywood, passed away this week at the age of 92 in Wilton, Connecticut. Her passing was announced by her friend Susan Granger, but a cause of death was not given.
After she began performing at a young age, Powell — her real name was Suzanne Lorraine Burce — got her first real taste of the film industry in her teens with Song of the Open Road before she went on to star in a number of other movie musicals, eventually landing her first big adult role in 1951’s Royal Wedding alongside the legendary Fred Astaire. Just three years later, she took on the acting job she’s best known for, playing Milly Pontipee in the 1954 musical hit Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, where her love interest was actor Howard Keel. Throughout her movie career, she was almost always typecast as the innocent girl next door due to her small stature, big eyes, and blonde hair.
Despite an exciting career, Powell never quite found her place in the glamorous but cutthroat world of Hollywood in the 1940s and 50s. “I was very shy. And very lonely,” she said to the Geelong Advertiser in 2005. “I really never felt I belonged. I couldn’t believe it was all happening to me. And I still think that.”
After walking away from her studio and striking out on her own in 1955 at the age of 26, Powell didn’t find success on the silver screen again, but she did move onto a lucrative career in theater, TV, and concert appearances, most notably making her Broadway debut in Irene after actress Debby Reynolds. Her last acting credit was for an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2002.
Despite her problems with how Hollywood worked in her younger years, Powell never took issue with her studio itself. “I get angry when I hear other actors blame the studios for all their problems,” she reflected in 1988. “It really bothered me when Judy Garland used to say, ‘The studio made me do this, the studio made me do that.’ Nobody makes you do anything. You make your own choices.”
Jane Powell was married five times, most recently to silent film actor-turned-PR executive Dickie Moore, who passed away in 2015. She leaves behind three children: Suzanne, Gearhardt, and Lindsey.
We send our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones.