Jane Powell, an iconic actress, singer, and dancer and one of the last surviving stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood, has passed away at the age of 92. The news was confirmed in a statement from Susan Granger, a friend of the actress and a spokesperson for her family, who confirmed that the actress died peacefully in her home in Wilton, Connecticut. Powell was best known for her work in the ever-popular musicals of the Golden Age, including 1948's A Date with Judy, 1951's Royal Wedding, 1954's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and 1955's Hit the Deck. She continued to appear on the stage and screen throughout her career, and later found success in arcs on Fantasy Island, Growing Pains, and The Red Skeleton Hour.
Born Suzanne Lorraine Burce on April 1, 1929, Powell first entered the entertainment industry by appearing on a radio program in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. At the age of twelve, Powell was chosen as the "Oregon Victory Girl" singing and selling war bonds at public appearances across the state, and lending her voice to two weekly radio shows. In 1943, Powell participated in the Hollywood Showcase radio talent show, which led to her signing a seven-year contract with MGM Studios.
She made her film debut in United Artists' Song for the Open Road a year later, which saw her portraying the character that would eventually become her stage name. During her early days at MGM, Powell made several movies, as well as performances on radio, theater, vaudeville, and at the inaugural ball for Harry Truman. Powell's breakout work came in Royal Wedding, a musical that saw her share the screen with Fred Astaire and Peter Lawford. She continued to appear in movie musicals up until the late 1950s.
"People are always fascinated by the so-called golden age of musicals, but it wasn't all that great," Powell told the New York Observer in 2000. "Everything was glazed. Those movies didn't reflect reality. I was at MGM for 11 years and nobody ever let me play anything but teenagers. I was 25 years old with kids of my own and it was getting ridiculous. Publicity was froth. Everything you said was monitored. With me, they didn't have to worry. I never had anything to say, anyway. It was hard work, I had no friends, no social interaction with people my age and the isolation was tough. But I had to support my family, so I did what I was told and had no other choice."
After the expiration of her contract with MGM, Powell appeared in theater productions across the country, and began to appear in various variety television shows and movies, including the television adaptation of Meet Me in St. Louis. In 1961, she almost received her own television show with The Jane Powell Show, but the series was scrapped and the pilot was shelved up until it was released on DVD in 2012. Her most prolific television role was a stint on Growing Pains, as the mother of Jason Seaver. Her final onscreen appearance was on a 2002 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but she continued to appear in theater and live performances in the years that followed. Following the 2015 death of her fifth husband, Dick Moore, Powell permanently moved to their second home in Connecticut.
Powell is survived by three children and two grandchildren.
Our thoughts are with Powell's familly, frends, and fans at this time.