William Powell on the Radio

Upon seeing that the anniversary of William Powell’s death approached, I could not believe I had not yet dedicated a day of old-time radio to him. As one of the most beloved actors from Hollywood’s golden age, Powell proved an oddity displaying a talent only few could claim. That is, epitomizing the sophisticated gentleman while oft making you ugly cry at his silly antics. An acclaimed actor and noted on-screen comedian, William Powell offered an elegant, witty and dignified portrayal in a career that spanned four decades.

While I can suggest any number of movies wherein William Powell’s talents are on full display, from his portrayal of Nick Charles in The Thin Man movies, to his memorable butler in My Man Godfrey, to the stern patriarch in Life with Father (1947) or his final role as Doc in John Ford’s Mister Roberts (1955), Powell simply never disappoints. Even in his lesser outings, he brings his brand of humor to the proceedings. Well, the same can be said of his radio work, which is why I will spend the day listening to the voice of this fabulous actor.

Following is a compilation of William Powell radio performances that will set you up for more than a day. You will not be disappointed with any of these productions, which offer the opportunity to enjoy bill in a few familiar favorites and roles played by others in the movies. I hope you enjoy this as a tribute to a enduring favorite.

We begin with Powell’s Lux Radio Theatre performances:

From June 1936, William Powell receates his role from the popular The Thin Man movies opposite Myrna Loy and the cast of players that made the movie so much fun:

Loy and Powell in The Thin Man (1934)

From May 1938, “My Man Godfrey” with Powell, Carole Lombard, Gail Patrick, Mischa Auer, and David Niven:

Powell joins Janet Gaynor in this January 1939 presentation of “Mayerling”

Two months later, in March 1939, Bill was back at the Lux studios to join Kay Francis for this performance of “One Way Passage”. You’ll hear that Norma Shearer was shceduled to appear in the Francis role, but was unable to do so due to illness.

Powell appeared once again on Lux in May 1939 for “Tovarich” opposite Miriam Hopkins.

From June 1939, “The Ex Mrs. Bradford” with Powell and Claudette Colbert:

In April 1940, Bill appeared opposite Irene Dunne in “Love Affair”

From June 1940, Powell and Loy reunite once again for “After the Thin Man”

The following presentation of “Hired Wife” features Bill and Myrna Loy in November 1941.

Myrna Loy and William Powell at rehearsal in the Lux Radio Theater studio for the performance of “Hired Wife” in November 1941

In October 1942, Powell joined Hedy Lamarr for “Love Crazy”

Teresa Wright reprises her screen role from Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943) for this Lux pairing with William Powell.

In September 1944, William Powell and Olivia de Havilland perform “Suspicion”

Miscellaneous radio appearances:

Powell and Joan Fontaine join forces for the Screen Guild Theatre production of “Ninotchka” in 1950.

I couldn’t find the direct link to the audio for the following, but it is too much fun to leave off the list. This is when william Powell spends the night on The Burns and Allen show” in 1944.

For our final program, from January 1948, William Powell guests on “The Eddie Cantor Show.” If you can put up with Cantor’s energy then you should enjoy this outing:

Thank you.

William Powell (July 29, 1892 – March 5, 1984)

3 thoughts

  1. Thanks for these links to radio performances. So true that he was much beloved. I’ll add respected too. His wide range of talent was wonderful. The sophisticated gentleman to the wildly kooky humor to his often forgotten days as a silent villain. He surely was a unique Hollywood treasure.

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