Like Deanna Durbin, Tyrone Power is one of those period Hollywood personalities who still exerts a peculiarly strong fascination for contemporary classic movie fans.
Whenever we run something on this handsome 20th Century Fox star of the Forties and Fifties, we invariably draw email — which we love to get.
So in the interests of giving readers what they want, we’ve decided to combine two recent emails from regular reader The Lady Eve in response to our latest TP blogs: Tyrone Power Quiz — The Answers Part I, published on Aug. 29; and Dashing Tyrone and Nice Guy Don — Readers Respond, published on Sept. 19.
The Lady Eve makes several personal and professional observations about Power, all well worth reading.
Poor Tyrone Power paid dearly for his failed marriages to (first wife) Annabella (pictured with Ty above) and (second wife) Linda Christian (and for his dalliances while married to each of them). I suspect some of his career choices of the 1950s were driven by the need to provide (handsomely) for his ex-wives.
Annabella’s American movie career was derailed by her marriage to Power – which was against (Fox studio boss) Darryl F. Zanuck’s wishes. Zanuck was her boss as well as Power’s. When she and Ty divorced, she got a huge settlement.
I suppose she must’ve felt it was her due since she gave up her career for him and their marriage hadn’t stopped him from regularly romancing his leading ladies, falling in love with the likes of Judy and Lana and seducing the occasional starlet along the way.
Power’s life was, indeed, short and glamorous.
But he was also a much better actor than he has been generally given credit for – and this may have been what was most difficult for him to bear. He wanted to be taken seriously for his acting talent – but it was his incredible good looks and onscreen charisma that Fox valued above all else.
We should add that none other than George Sanders agreed with The Lady Eve. Sanders developed a close friendship with Power when the two costarred in director King Vidor’s biblical epic, Solomon and Sheba, filmed in Spain and released in 1959.
After several strenuous sword-fight scenes with Sanders, Power — who also co-produced the picture — collapsed complaining of pains in his chest and arms. The end came on Nov. 15, 1958, before the movie was completed. Power was just 44 years old. (He was replaced by Yul Brynner)
In his 1960 book about himself — Memoirs of a Professional Cad — Sanders noted that when stars became producers, their attachment to money tends to grow. They start saving, acquiring financial acumen.
This of course was not true of all of them — Ty Power’s attitude for instance was different. He spent his money freely. He had a yacht, a private aeroplane, and gave lavish parties. And women, who are usually more expensive than yachts and aeroplanes, found ways of spending his money when he ran out of ideas.
Ty didn’t seem to mind. Perhaps he had some premonition that he did not need to save for his old age.
Sanders eulogized his friend with these words: I shall always remember Tyrone Power as a bountiful man. A man who gave freely of himself. It mattered not to whom he gave.
His concern was in the giving. I shall always remember his wonderful smile, a smile that would light up the darkest hour of the day like a sunburst.
I shall always remember Tyrone Power as a man who gave more of himself than it was wise for him to give. Until in the end he gave his life.