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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

April 1, 2009 at 10:11 AM

Happy birthday, Jane Powell

Born 80 years ago today in Portland, Oregon, Jane Powell had a relatively brief but memorable film career in the ’40s and ’50s, playing the sweet-natured leading lady in a series of musicals and romances. I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Powell five years ago, when she was the guest of honor at the Port Townsend Film Festival. There, she reminded the audience of her Northwest roots (her father worked for Wonder Bread in Portland, but they often visited family in Tacoma), smilingly shared that she was only the third choice to play Fred Astaire’s partner in “Royal Wedding” (“June Allyson was taken pregnant, Judy Garland was taken ill”), noted that she was maid of honor at Elizabeth Taylor’s first wedding, and confirmed that the pioneer-lady skirts she wore in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” were indeed made from old quilts, and were “very heavy.”
Powell (who was born Suzanne Burce, and took her screen name from her first movie, 1944’s “Song of the Open Road”) also told us that her favorite film from her career was the 1950 romance “Two Weeks With Love,” where she was partnered with Ricardo Montalban. (She plays a teen who falls in love with a dashing older man while on vacation with her family in the Catskills — sort of a more innocent “Dirty Dancing.”) Here, as a little birthday tribute, is a clip of Powell and Montalban (who died earlier this year, at the age of 88) from that movie, dancing a charming tango.

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