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Eleanor Powell (Hardback)

Born to Dance

P&S History > Humanities > Biography & Memoirs

Imprint: University Press of Kentucky
Series: Screen Classics
Pages: 360
Illustrations: 78 b&w illustrations
ISBN: 9780813197883
Published: 8th August 2023
Casemate UK Academic

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When considering the best dancers in Hollywood's history, some obvious names come to mind - Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Bill Robinson. Yet often overlooked is one of the most gifted and creative dancers of all time, Eleanor Powell. Powell's effervescent style, unmatched technical prowess in tap, and free-flowing musicality led MGM to build top-rate musicals around her unique talents, including Born to Dance (1936) with James Stewart and Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940) with Fred Astaire, in which she became known as the only female tap dancer capable of challenging him. In a male-dominated industry, her fierce drive for perfection, sometimes to her detriment, earned her a place as one of the most accomplished performers in vaudeville, Broadway, and film. Powell's grace, precision, and power established her as one of the greatest American dancers. In 1943, she married actor Glenn Ford and largely stepped away from the spotlight for the duration of their tumultuous marriage. After their divorce, Powell made a courageous comeback, successfully performing in Las Vegas and on the nightclub circuit. Cancer claimed her life at the age of sixty-nine.

Eleanor Powell: Born to Dance by Paula Broussard and Lisa Royère is an all-encompassing work following the American dance legend from her premature birth into a single-parent home in Springfield, Massachusetts, to her first Broadway performance at age fifteen, through her days as a blazing icon in the world of Hollywood, and finally, to her inspiring comeback. With access to rare documents, letters, and production files, as well as drawing on the authors' intimate personal relationships with Powell, this is a thoroughly researched, comprehensive, and fascinating look at an incredibly talented and unforgettable woman.

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