Jane Powell, a leading lady of the '40s and '50s — and later an indefatigable star of musicals on the road — died Thursday, September 16, at the Wilton, Connecticut, home she once shared with her child actor-turned-publicist husband Dickie Moore (1925-2015).
ExtraTV reports the 92-year-old actress died peacefully. She is survived by three children and two grandchildren.
Born April 1, 1929, in Portland, Oregon, she was a movie star as a teenager, appearing in Song of the Open Road (1944) and in hits like A Date with Judy (1948) with Elizabeth Taylor (a bridesmaid at one of her five weddings), Royal Wedding (1951) with Fred Astaire and her biggest hit, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), a Best Picture nominee in which she sang "Wonderful, Wonderful Day," "When You're in Love," and "Goin' Courtin'."
Her plucky songbird brand waned as the '50s wore on, but she acquitted herself admirably in rare dramatic roles in the films The Female Animal (1958) and Enchanted Island (1958), and drew raves for a TV-movie version of Meet Me in St. Louis (1959).
She rarely appeared in films after that, focusing on TV productions and appearances, and throwing herself into road productions of surefire hits like The Sound of Music.
Among her many TV credits, she appeared on several live theater-oriented programs in the '50s, anchored a failed pilot for The Jane Powell Show (1961), and made guest appearances on The Red Skelton Hour (1962-1970), Fantasy Island (3 appearances, 1978-1982), The Love Boat (1981 & 1982) and, inevitably, Murder, She Wrote (1987).
Probably her most identifiable TV role was as the mother of Alan Thicke's character on Growing Pains (1988-1990), which she played on eight episodes. She was also an infrequent face on soaps like Loving and As the World Turns.
Ageless, Powell continued appearing onstage after her final film in 1999 (Picture This) and her last TV gig, on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2002).
Along with working Off-Broadway in Avow in 2002, in 2003 she joined the Chicago cast of the ill-fated Stephen Sondheim production Bounce. As recently as 2013, she was still out and about, taking a ride on the TCM Classic Cruise.
A wonderful introduction to the angelic singer's voice and style is her 1956 hit record "True Love," a #15 hit.