William Powell

William Powell


7/29/1892, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania



Birth Name

William Horatio Powell



Also Known As

William H. Powell, William Horatio Powell
out of 10
User Rating
8 votes



William Powell was one of the most popular and longest enduring American actors who was was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 29, 1892. In 1912, he starred in his first role in The Ne'er-Do-Well as a walk-on. He was employed by Paramount Picture, in 1924, and starred…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • William co-starred with Jean Arthur in 5 films, including:

      The Canary Murder Case (1929)
      The Greene Murder Case (1929)
      Street Of Chance (1930)
      Paramount On Parade (1930)
      The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936)

    • William appeared with Gary Cooper in 5 films, including:

      Nevada (1927)
      Beau Sabreur (1928)
      Paramount On Parade (1930)
      Make Me A Star (1932)
      It's A Big Country (1951)

    • William made an uncredited cameo as a waiter in Daughter Of Shanghai (1937) despite being at the height of his popularity at the time.

    • William co-starred with Edward G. Robinson in his screen debut in The Bright Shawl (1923).

    • William had known his wife Diana only 3 weeks before they were married.

    • William's son, WIlliam Powell Junior, became a television writer and producer. After suffering from hepatitis and depression, he committed suicide on March 13, 1968.

    • William was diagnosed with and treated for cancer in 1938, recuperating for most of the year.

    • William co-starred in 14 films with Myrna Loy. These included:

      Manhattan Melodrama (1934)
      The Thin Man (1934)
      Evelyn Prentice (1934)
      The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
      Libeled Lady (1936)
      After the Thin Man (1936)
      Double Wedding (1937)
      Another Thin Man (1939)
      I Love You Again (1940)
      Love Crazy (1941)
      Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)
      The Thin Man Goes Home (1944)
      Song of the Thin Man (1947)
      The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947)

    • William and baseball great Casey Stengel graudated in the same class in Kansas City together.

    • William dated Jean Harlow for 2 years until her death on June 7, 1937. He paid $30,000 for her funeral after first refusing, but then reconsidering, afraid Harlow's mother would give him negative publicity. He was so distressed by her death he stopped filming on Double Wedding (1937) for 6 weeks when he left the production to grieve.

    • William was interested in playing the Merry Widow Murderer in Shadow Of A Doubt (1943) after Alfred Hitchcock had asked him to consider the role, but the studio heads at MGM were opposed to this and cast Joseph Cotten.

    • William was married for a total of 3 times, to Eileen Lewis from 1915 to 1930, to Carole Lombard from 1931 to 1933, and to Diana Lewis from 1940 until his death in 1984.

    • William's last on-screen appearance was in a 14-minute short film, Fernes Jamaica (1969).

    • William was nominated 3 times for the Best Actor In A Leading Role for the following films:

      The Thin Man (1934)
      My Man Godfrey (1936)
      Life With Father (1947)

    • William has a Motion Picture star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame at 1636 Vine Street.

    • William was 6 feet tall.

    • The character of Nicky Flippers in the movie "Hoodwinked" is modeled after Nick Charles (The character William Powell made famous in the Thin Man movie series).

  • Quotes

    • William Powell: I have never gone into a picture without first studying my characterization from all angles. I make a study of the fellow's life and try to learn everything about him, including the conditions under which he came into this world, his parentage, his environment, his social status, and the things in which he is interested. Then I attempt to get his mental attitude as much as possible.

    • William Powell: I do not hold that because the author did a bad job of writing the player need trump it with the same kind of acting. When I go into a picture I have only one character to look after. If the author didn't do him justice, I try to add whatever the creator of the part overlooked.

    • William Powell: My friends have stood by me marvelously in the ups and downs of my career. I don't believe there is anything more worthwhile in life than friendship. Friendship is a far better thing than love, as it is commonly accepted.

    • William Powell: There is more money in being liked by an audience than in being disliked by it. The biggest thing about movie audiences is the sympathy they give characters on the screen. But the art of acting and the talent of selecting what one will act are divorced qualities.