• Eleanor Powell

A page from an autograph album, signed with a fountain pen by Eleanor Powell (1912-1982), the American actress and dancer of the 1930s and 40s discovered at the age of 11 by the head of the Vaudeville Kiddie revue, Gus Edwards. When she was 17, she brought her graceful, athletic style to Broadway, where she starred in various revues and musicals. During this time, she was dubbed "the world's greatest tap dancer" due to her machine-gun footwork. In 1935, the leggy, fresh-faced Powell made the move to Hollywood and did a specialty number in her first major film, George White's 1935 Scandals, but the experience left her unimpressed with Hollywood and when she was courted by MGM, she initially refused their offers of a contract. Reportedly, Powell attempted to dissuade the studio by making what she felt were unreasonable salary demands, but MGM agreed to them and she finally accepted. Powell would go on to star opposite many of the decade's top leading men, including James Stewart, Robert Taylor, Fred Astaire and Robert Young. Broadway Melody of 1940, in which she starred opposite Fred Astaire, featured the pair dancing a tap routine to Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine", which is considered by many to be one of the greatest tap sequences in film history.

Eleanor Powell

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