Friday, 21 November 2008

World’s greatest tap dancer

The lovely Eleanor Powell was born on this date 96 years ago.

Always a better partner to Fred Astaire than his more famous pairing with Ginger Rogers, Eleanor was indeed born to dance, discovered as she was as part of the Vaudeville Kiddie revue.

She was without a doubt the greatest female tap dancer on screen during the heyday of 30s and 40s musicals, and as well as Astaire, she co-starred with leading men such as Jimmy Stewart, Robert Taylor, Nelson Eddy, and Robert Young. Her shining star faded towards the end of the decade, as more and more parts passed over to newer talents such as Judy Garland.

She married one of her co-stars Glenn Ford and eventually retired from showbiz, only returning briefly in cameo parts in films with novelty stars like Esther Williams, and occasionally on TV variety shows.

Watching her stupendous dancing skills always cheers me up, and here's some examples, starting with a classic:

Possibly my favourite Art Deco cinematic moment:

And a well-constructed video mash-up of the more - ahem - unexpected kind:

Eleanor Torrey Powell (21st November 1912 – 11th February 1982)

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