Fayard Nicholas

Eleanor Powell, the magnificently talented movie-musical performer of the mid-twentieth century, was too good for Hollywood. I don’t mean too virtuous; I mean too virtuosic—too masterful at her specialty, tap dancing, for the powers of the studio system, including its powerful male stars, to tolerate. Powell, who died in 1982, would have turned 100 this past Wednesday. Today, she comes across in film clips as nothing extraordinary, an equal to the men with whom she performed, and that’s what extraordinary about her.

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