Although she is almost forgotten today, the woman pictured above is considered the best tap dancer ever to grace the silver screen.

Hello Everybody, Mr. Joe Morella and Mr. Frank Segers, your classic movie guyshere again while Mrs. Norman Maine is out getting her tap shoes.

But she (and Judy Garland, who portrayed her in the 1954 version of A Star is Born) couldn’t hold a candle in the dance department to Eleanor Powell.

She had started on Broadway at 17. A few years later Eleanor hit films with a bang in 1935 in George Whites Scandals and dazzled audiences with her dancing.  She could do it all. She could sing, dance, act and she was pretty. But her tapping was what gained her the most praise. MGM signed her and starred her opposite their top leading men such as James Stewart and Robert Taylor.

Joe’s favorite of her films is Broadway Melody of 1940, where she co-stars with Fred Astaire. Through the years Astaire danced with the top stars of the genre: Ginger Rodgers, Vera Ellen, Cyd Charisse, Leslie Caron, even Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly.

But none overshadowed him except Eleanor Powell.  Perhaps that’s why they made only one film together.

Her career seemed to die in the early Forties, probably because she didn’t find it gave her the satisfaction it once did.  She’d married actor Glenn Ford and had become a mother. Their son Peter became an actor and rock singer.

Powell made a few films in the middle and late forties, then after divorcing Ford in 1959, made a highly successful comeback as a nightclub performer.

Although Joe never met Eleanor Powell he did interview Ann Miller several times over the years. Miller told him she considered Powell the best tap dancer ever.

Joe had an interview scheduled with  Glenn Ford in February 1982. It was long before cell phones and Ford had tried to reach Joe to reschedule the interview, but hadn’t been able to do so.  When Joe showed up at Ford’s house the actor said he’d just heard the news of his former wife’s death.  It had been expected.  She had been ill for some time. But it still was a sad day for him and their son.

 

 

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