Cover Image: Eleanor Powell

Eleanor Powell

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Member Reviews

"Eleanor Powell: Born to Dance" by Paula Broussard and Lisa Royère is an enchanting journey through the life of one of the greatest dancers of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The authors skillfully weave together Powell's personal and professional stories, offering readers a front-row seat to the dazzling world of dance and film.

The book beautifully captures Powell's passion for dance and her unyielding determination to break barriers in the entertainment industry. Broussard and Royère's writing is both engaging and informative, painting a vivid picture of Powell's charisma on and off the screen. From her early struggles to her triumphs, the narrative unfolds with grace and rhythm, much like the star herself.

What sets this biography apart is its meticulous research and the inclusion of personal anecdotes that breathe life into Powell's extraordinary journey. Whether you're a dance enthusiast or a classic movie buff, "Eleanor Powell: Born to Dance" is a must-read, offering a heartfelt tribute to a woman whose talent continues to inspire generations.

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I love, love, love movie musicals. One of my early memories is me and my dad watching Swing Time with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on public television. I was instantly smitten. As I grew older, I devoured books on the subject and watched as many musicals as I could. One of the things I always wondered was why I couldn’t find a decent biography on one of the best dancers of the silver screen, man or woman, in Eleanor Powell. I’m glad to say that Born to Dance is the biography I’ve been waiting for.

“I had 29 partners, but I met my match with Ellie,” Fred Astaire was quoted to have said about Eleanor Powell. In 1952, he told columnist Hedda Hopper that Eleanor was “one of our greatest talents,” but lamented that she was “a bit too powerful for me.” How about that? That was the reason that Astaire gave as to why the two were only paired up once, in Broadway Melody of 1940. What could have been.

The book is a thorough examination of Eleanor and her life, from growing up with a single mother, to her work on Broadway, and then her relatively short 8-year career at MGM. Also covered is her personal life and several aborted engagements to a couple of men before her heart was thoroughly taken by up-and-coming actor Glenn Ford. Eleanor firmly believed she could not balance a career and raising a child, so when her son Peter was born, she effectively retired from film. She ended up taking a show on the road and appearing independently in a few films and even a Vegas show over the next 15 years to help pay the bills, all while Ford was cheating on her with his leading ladies.

It was interesting to read all about Powell’s work ethic and the fact that the studios did not take her as seriously as they took her male counterparts. It’s also amazing how poorly MGM treated her, as is true of many of their stars, and underutilized her while she was under contract.

If you love movie musicals of the 1930s and 1940s and want to read about the life of a star who has faded from the history of film, you’ll want to check out this book. Highly recommended!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and University Press; I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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This book, written by Paula Broussard and Lisa Royere is a shining tome of the tap dancing life of Eleanor Powell. I had always wondered how in the world did she and Ruby Keeler do what they did with their feet.! The story of Eleanor’s life is wonderful; what a kind, caring and smart person she was. Her relationships with people were so great! Hardworking with an incredible work ethic, as a dancer, she was the greatest! This book goes into my dance history collection, and it’s a story I will share with my dance history students! Thank you to these authors for their expect research. I was enthralled reading about the great Eleanor Powell!

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This book reads like a resume. There is absolutely no narrative flow to this whatsoever. It describes one show to the next, one picture to the other. Very little about her actually life. I don’t see the point in cataloging exclusively her professional endeavors without also including her personal ones. It had a lot of details about the shows and pictures she was in and about the cast of characters he encountered along the way. Although those details are not entirely irrelevant, if I wanted to know the history metro Goldwyn Mayer for example I would have googled it. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that in a book with her name in the cover, it mainly follow Eleanor Powell, not her friends and employers.

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Thank you to Net Galley and The University Press of Kentucky for the chance to read and review this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
This is a great biography of one of the most talented dancers that ever lived. It starts with Eleanor's early life and goes all the way to her death. The author writes about her career at MGM, on Broadway and in the theatre. This book is very well written and kept my attention throughout. After reading this book, I admire Eleanor so much. Even though she was very talented, she often practiced until her feet were bleeding-dancing seemed to be her whole life. I also thought it was interesting to read about her marriage to Glenn Ford-he was such a cad! It was also interesting to learn about all the community service and dancing she did at the end of her life. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who likes to read biographies about famous Hollywood icons.

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