ELEANOR POWELL d1982. American film actress and dancer of the 1930-40s known for her exuberant solo tap dancing. She starred opposite many of the decade's top leading men including ; James Stewart / Robert Taylor / Fred Astaire / Nelson Eddy and Robert Young. Among the films she made during the height of her career in the mid-to-late 1930s were ; Born to Dance (1936) / Rosalie (1937) / Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937) / Honolulu (1939) and Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940). All of these movies featured her amazing solo tapping, although her increasingly huge production numbers began to draw criticism. Her characters also sang, but Powell's singing voice was usually (but not always) dubbed. Broadway Melody of 1940 in which she starred opposite Fred Astaire, featured an acclaimed musical score by Cole Porter Together, they danced to "Begin the Beguine" which is considered by many to be one of the greatest tap sequences in film history. According to accounts of the making of this film, including a documentary included on the DVD release, Astaire was somewhat intimidated by Powell, who was considered the only female dancer ever capable of out-dancing Astaire. In his autobiography Steps in Time, Astaire remarked, "She 'put 'em down like a man', no ricky-ticky-sissy stuff with Ellie. She really knocked out a tap dance in a class by herself." She died of cancer aged 69 in 1982.
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