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Look, Sept 3, '46


Pin-Up Boy

article by Patricia Coffin
photographs by Earl Theisen

He's a four-to one favorite to make the biggest comeback of all the Hollywood glamour boys who went to war.

Of the big six who went to war from Hollywood -- Clark Gable, Bob Montgomery, Jimmy Stewart, Robert Taylor, Henry Fonda, and Tyrone Power -- the last looks like the hottest postwar box-office bet. He is the youngest. He is one of the handsomest (see left).

Just 32, Power has ten years of starring experience behind him. Now finishing 20th Century-Fox's $4,000,000 production of Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge he stars next in Fox's Technicolor version of another best seller: Captain from Castile -- his 27th film.

No "beautiful but dumb" automaton, Tyrone has an agile mind. Determined to get through Marine Officers Candidate School, he graduated despite the fact that he lacked the two years of college usually necessary. With 250 flying hours to his credit, he was made a transport pilot in the Pacific theater. He flew a C-46 called Blithe Spirit after the play in which is wife Annabella was touring.

Ty had volunteered in '42, unknown to his studio, which was interested in getting him a Navy commission. At first, his fellow Marines at San Diego boot camp were out to get him. They ended by voting him "most popular." Before he was sworn in, his mother had suggested he get a haircut, "What!" he exclaimed. "And deprive them of that pleasure!"

He Is Descended from an Irish Comedian

"When he got his first stripe, he was more thrilled than if he had gotten a boost at Fox," his mother says. She is a brisk, gray-haired, Indiana-born matron who wears a pince-nez, white cotton gloves, and is deeply interested in radiotherapy. She was a singer in her youth, is an ex-drama teacher. Tyrone reflects her sound professional training but inherits his strongest theatrical flair from his father. Papa Power (Tyrone II) made a name as a Shakespearean actor. And Tyrone's great-grandfather (Tyrone I) was a famous Irish comedian in the English theater in the early 1800's.

Thus mentally endowed, Tyrone III is also physically fortunate, gives a dashing black-and-white impression -- black browns, white teeth.

Actually, he was very frail as a child. Says a school-mate: "He was so thin, he was all eyes!" Born May 5, 1914, at his maternal grandmother's in Ohio, Ty landed in Hollywood before he was one: His parents had signed with Famous Players. But they separated when he and his younger sister Ann (Mrs. Peter Hardenburg of Honolulu) were still very young.

In 1923 Mrs. Power settled in Cincinnati. Here she worked as drama coach at the Schuster-Martin school; lived in a ramshackle house. Ty used to drive his mother crazy speeding on a $6 motorcycle. In later years he drove his studio crazy doing the same on a more expensive model. Fellow put-putterers were Keenan Wynn, John Wayne and Clark Gable. Ty even took Annabella on a motorcycle weekend-once.

He was graduated at 17 from Purcell High School. Year Book prediction: "He will succeed Barrymore." The incipient actor decided college would be a waste of time and money. Instead he joined his father's repertory company, made his professional debut in The Merchant of Venice in 1931 in Chicago's Civic Auditorium. With his father he returned to Hollywood, where the senior power became ill and died.

So young Tyrone tried to crash the movies alone. He was received kindly enough but all the producers had to offer were reminiscences of his late parent. In despair he headed for Broadway. On his way east he became sidetracked in Chicago on a radio program with Don Ameche (Later best man at his wedding). Eventually Tyrone landed in New York at the doorstep of Michael Strange, ex-Mrs. John Barrymore and an old family friend. Through her and Helen Menken, he met Guthrie McClintic and Katharine Cornell, got a job understudying Burgess Meredith in Flowers of the Forest. He played in stock that summer, was in Cornell's St. Joan the spring of 1936 when Hollywood, in the person of a Fox talent scout, "discovered" him.

That was what he'd been waiting for . Tyrone sped to the coast to start his spectacular screen career. After his third picture that year, (Lloyd's of London) the feminine fan mail began pouring in -- and he was established.

Despite his childhood ambition to become a railroad engineer,

Tyrone Power III soon succumbed to his heritage: the theater

Power has always been a woman's man. The three greatest forces in his life have been women: his fans, who made him a star; his wife, responsible for his social development; and his mother, who made him what he is.

Annabella put the high gloss on his smooth finish. For example, Annabella, whom Ty met when they were cast in Suez cultivated his acquaintances the Vincent Astors during her wartime stay in New York to star in the 1944 stage hit, Jacobowsky and the Colonel.

When Tyrone came home from the wars, she invited them to Hollywood. Their visit created a social sensation. The Astors found a household consisting of eight women -- and Tyrone. "It's a feast or a famine," he cracked, referring to the contrast between monastic Saipan and his "nunnery": his wife; his birdlike French mother-in-law, Mme Charpentier; his step-daughter, Annie; his sister's child, Pixie, her governess, a cook and two maids.

A dinner dance attended by more than 100 of Hollywood's biggest "names" climaxed the Astors' visit. Minnie (Mrs.) Astor danced until 5 a.m., but was up by 10 the next morning. "A house guest was playing Viennese waltzes," reminisce the Powers. "So we all got up and danced barefoot in the living room."

As an artist, however, Power is serious. He has his mother to thank for this. "His first ambition was to be an engineer," she chuckles. "I told him he could be anything -- a policeman, if he chose -- but that he must be the best."

Webmaster's notes:

Ty had been in starring roles since the end of 1936, but he had taken over 3 years off for military service.

Within weeks after this article was printed, Annabella, who had left Ty back in Hollywood while she went to New York for a stage play, announced their separation. They were divorced in 1949.

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