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Richard Ewing "Dick" Powell is Born

Today in Masonic History Richard Ewing "Dick" Powell is born in 1904.

Richard Ewing "Dick" Powell was an American entertainer.

Powell was born on November 14th, 1904 in Mountain View, Arkansas. When he was 10 his family moved to Little Rock. In Little Rock he sang in church choirs and with local orchestras. He also started his own band. He attended the Little Rock College before launching his career as an entertainer. He joined various bands and in the late 1920's signed a recording contract with a company which became part of Warner Brothers in 1930.

Warner Brothers was impressed with Powell's singing ability and his stage presence, he had emceed for a time at a theatre. The studio began casting Powell in various roles, every character having in common they were singers of some kind. Many of the films were musicals with choreography. Some of his early films are what are referred to as Pre-Code movies. Pre-Code movies are films created after the start of sound pictures and before the Motion Picture Production Code, a set of moral guidelines for the making of motion pictures.

By 1940, Powell was ready to leave Warner Brothers. He was interested in more dramatic roles, most especially ones where he didn't sing. So Powell bought out his contract with Warner Brothers. By 1944 Powell felt he was too old to be a romantic leading man so he began to try to branch out. One of the first roles he tried for he lost to Fred MacMurray, instead of frustrating him, this proved to Powell he was able to reinvent himself. This was also the end of his singing in film roles. Later in 1944 he was cast to play detective Phillip Marlowe. Powell was the first person to play the character by name in a film.

In the 1950's and early 1960's Powell branched out into radio and then television. Also in the 1950's, Powell was one of the founders of the company Four Star Television. It later branched out to Four Star Films.

In 1956, Powell directed the film The Conqueror which starred John Wayne as Genghis Khan. The film production took place in St. George, Utah which was downwind of the United States above ground atomic testing. The cast and crew totaled 220, by 1981 91 of them had developed some form of cancer and 46, including John Wayne and Powell, had passed away from cancer.

Powell passed away on January 2nd, 1963.

Powell was a member of Ascot Lodge No. 538, Los Angeles, California.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.