Jane Powell was a beloved Old Hollywood actress that is perhaps best known for her starring turn as the character of Milly in the classic film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Recently, Jane passed away at the age of 92. Join Facts Verse as we explore the tragic death of Jane Powell, Old Hollywood’s girl next door.
Jane Powell was born on April 1, 1929, in Portland, Oregon. At birth, Jane was given the name Suzanne Burce. It wasn’t until the start or her Hollywood career that Jane would go on to adopt her more famous stage name. Jane’s parents were named Paul and Eileen. And they got Jane started in dance lessons when she was only two years old. Jane also practiced singing, and by the time Jane was five years old. She was talented enough to appear on a local children’s radio program by the name of Stars of Tomorrow.
The school where Jane was given dance lessons was known as the Agnes Peters School of Dance. It was at this school that Jane’s parents were introduced to a man by the name of Scotty Weston. In addition to being a dance instructor, Scotty was also a talent scout. With Scotty’s encouragement, Jane’s parents decided to take the young girl out to Oakland, California. The family lived in a hotel room in Oakland for a period of three months before eventually giving up and returning to Portland. While in Oakland, Jane’s parents had sought a Hollywood talent agent for her. However, they ended up deciding that Jane’s immediate future was more promising back home.
Back in Portland, Jane’s parents continued to encourage their daughter to pursue a career in entertainment. As Jane got older, she became less interested in dancing and more interested in singing. Though Jane had always had a predilection for singing in addition to her dancing skills. The former began to outshine that latter as she entered into her teenage years. It was Jane’s voice that began getting her noticed. And Jane began vehemently practicing singing with vocal lessons paid for by her neighbors. Who believed that Jane had a very promising future.
It’s at the age of 12 that a local talent promoter gave Jane the title of the “Oregon Victory Girl”. As the Oregon Victory Girl, Jane could heard singing on one of the state’s local radio stations. As well, the Oregon Victory Girl title meant that Jane toured the state for a period of two years selling war bonds. In Jane’s later teenage years, she have the decision to move out to Los Angeles and try her hand at Hollywood fame once again. This bid proved much more successful than the one when she was younger.
Soon after showing up in Los Angeles, Jane given a contract with MGM. The studio impressed by the young star’s singing and dancing talents, and also felt that she showed acting promise. Soon, Jane utilized in various roles by the studio. With her feature debut coming in the 1944 film Song of the Open Road. Jane’s turn in the film impressed, and she’s given many subsequent roles in other features. Including 1945’s Delightfully Dangerous, 1948’s Date with Judy, 1951’s Royal Wedding, and 1955’s Hit the Deck.
It was Jane’s feature debut that granted the star her famous stage name. Up until performing in 1944’s Song of the Open Road, Jane had still known as Suzanne Burce. In Song of the Open Road, she casted as a character by the name of Jane Powell. She liked the name, and took it for herself! From then on, Suzanne Burce officially known as Jane Powell.
While Jane appeared in many memorable roles during the height of her fame. Her most famously regarded role remains her starring turn as the character of Milly in the classic film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The film released in 1954 to critical and audience acclaim. And even nominated for several Academy Awards. Jane later expressed that she believed that the character of Milly represented her last truly great role in a film. Jane was likely correct, as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is her most well-known feature.
Despite the fact that Seven Brides for Seven Brothers went on to become a massive success for MGM. The studio had initially feared that the film was going to underperform. Because of this, they had put a lot more effort into advertising the film Brigadoon. However, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers ended up the bigger hit. Sadly, Jane’s career would never again reach the heights that it did during her performance as Milly. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! As well, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Before appearing in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Jane Powell had starred alongside Fred Astaire in the film Royal Wedding. In that film, Jane and Fred played American siblings going on a tour of London. After Jane’s turn as Milly in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, her starring role alongside Fred in Royal Wedding is arguably her second most well-known role. Later in Jane’s career, she began to receive more roles on the stage than she did on the screen.
Occurring alongside her career in film, Jane could also seen in various touring musical productions. Such touring musical productions that Jane could seen in included Carousel, The Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady. Because of this, Jane had plenty of experience performing in dramatic roles on the stage before given the opportunity to make her Broadway debut with 1974’s Irene.
Jane continued performing on the stage into the 1980s, performing in the touring comedy productions Chapter Two, The Marriage-Go-Round, and Same Time, Next Year. In addition to her continued work on the stage, Jane could also seen in some notable roles on television during the 1980s. Jane given memorable guest-starring roles on the programs Fantasy Island and The Love Boat during the early 1980s, and took on a nine-month-long stint on the soap opera Loving starting in 1985. That same year, Jane given another memorable guest-starring role, this time on the beloved mystery drama Murder, She Wrote. Jane rounded out her string of 1980s television guest-starring roles with a recurring turn on the hit sitcom Growing Pains, playing the mother of Alan Thicke’s character, Dr. Jason Roland Seaver.
Starting in the 1990s, Jane given another notable stint on a soap opera, this time taking over for Eileen Fulton on As the World Turns. The 1990s also saw Jane continue her work on the stage, appearing in an off-Broadway production by the name of After-Play. She later given the role of the Queen in a production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella that put on at the New York City Opera.
Jane’s work on both the stage and television continued into the new millennium. In the year 2000, Jane cast in an off-Broadway production by the name of Avow. She played a devout Catholic mother forced to grapple with the revelation that her son wishes to marry a same-sex partner within the confines of her church. That same year, Jane appeared in another off-Broadway production: 70, Girls, 70.
Not all of Jane’s work in the new millennium was on the stage. In 2002, she’s given a guest-starring role on the hit series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2003, she’s given a role in a made-for-television film that premiered on Showtime. The film called The Sandy Bottom Orchestra, and represented Jane’s last role in a fictional feature film.
2003 was also the year that Jane gave her final dramatic performance on the stage. This came via Bounce, a musical written by Stephen Sondheim. In the musical, Jane played a character by the name of Mama Mizner. Though Jane would go on to make further appearances on the stages as a singer, 2003 marked her final year as an actress.
Despite the fact that 2003 represented Jane’s final year as an actress, she continued to perform on the stage every once in a while in the years leading up to her death. On New Year’s Eve of 2007, Jane put on a performance of Peter and the Wolf in her hometown of Portland with the musical group Pink Martini. She performed with the group yet again in 2008, this time at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. Jane performed with the band Pink Martini for a third notable time in 2010, this time at the Hollywood Bowl. In 2011, Jane returned to the small screen to replace Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne while he was on medical leave for a week in July. Fans of Turner Classic Movies enthused to see that Jane still doing well.
In addition to Jane’s long and storied career in entertainment, she also had a long and storied love life. Jane married five separate times over the course of her life, and had three children. Jane was with her final husband, Dickie Moore, until his death in 2015. Dickie Moore was a former child star, and he and Jane had married in 1988. At the time of Dickie’s passing, he and Jane had been living in an apartment in Manhattan. After her husband’s death, Jane sold the apartment and moved to Connecticut, where the two had maintained a vacation home. It was at this vacation home in Connecticut that Jane eventually passed away. Jane died of natural causes on September 16, 2021. At the time of the beloved star’s death, she was 92 years old.
Before calling it quits on her acting career in 2003, Jane Powell had developed quite the impressive resume, with notable roles on television, in film, and even on Broadway! Comment down below to share if you agree that Jane’s turn as Milly in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers remains her best work, or if you think that there’s another role that she deserves equal or greater credit for! As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!