In 1973, Loretta Powers, a lifelong fan of classic movies and music, commissioned artist Anthony De Frange to paint one of her favorite actors, Tyrone Power, as he appeared in the title role of Irving Berlin's Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938). Dressed in a tuxedo with a violin tucked under his arm, Tyrone Power cuts an elegant figure in this striking painting. It's hard to find such a finely rendered likeness of a movie star as handsome, talented, and enduringly popular as Tyrone Power.
About the original owner:
Loretta Powers (1925-2014), a native San Franciscan, was a classically trained musician and teacher. A child prodigy, Ms. Powers was first violinist with the Portland Youth Symphony. As a movie usher in her youth, she viewed many films. At the tender age of 13, while she was a student of violin, she saw Tyrone Power in the film Alexander's Ragtime Band and thought he was the most beautiful man she'd ever seen with a violin. She also related to the fact that she had an Irish ancestor in London with the last name Powers and that Tyrone was also part Cajun, French, and German like her. She could trace her ancestry back to the 16th century in France. During the 1960s and 1970s, Loretta operated a performing arts studio where she was a music and ballet teacher, an actress turned drama/voice coach, and piano accompanist. During that time she commissioned De Frange to paint this portait of Tyrone Power holding a violin as she had first seen him on the silver screen all those years ago. It fit perfectly in her studio where she hoped it would inspire both her violin and her drama students. She was so pleased with De Frange's work that she purchased a number of celebrity portraits from him for her private art collection, including Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Lord Laurence Olivier, Alan Ladd, and Sir Alan Bates. I remember as a child being so impressed by these wonderful paintings, and I have seen them impress others as well. Her first purchase from De Frange was a stunning portrait of Vivien Leigh as Lady Hamilton in That Hamilton Woman (1941) after the classic portrait "Emma Hart in a Straw Hat" by George Romney circa 1782-1784. Next she purchased a large full body view of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind (1939), wearing her green and white southern belle barbecue dress. Loretta came from a long line of southern belles on her father's side. Her father was Emile Gassie III of the Gassie family in New Orleans, which maintains the Louisiana Historical Society.
About the actor:
Tyrone Power (also called Tyrone Power, Jr., and Tyrone Power III) was a romantic swashbuckling star of the silver screen, and a notable stage and radio actor. Dscended from a thespian father and grandfather who bore the samee, he was born on May 5, 1914 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Both of his parents were actors. His ancestry included English, Irish, German, French Huguenot, and French-Canadian. Darryl F. Zanuck said of Tyrone Power: "It was my good fortune to have launched his screen career. He was an artist with a great heritage as both his father and grandfather before him were illustrious actors. As the then head of 20th Century Fox studios I cast him in a small bit part in his first picture, but so striking was his personality and so perfected his talent that we had no hesitancy in starring him in the very next picture, 'Lloyds of London.' " Power quickly progressed to more leading roles in dozens of films during the '30s, '40s and '50s. He was the epitome of the romantic matinee idol and adventure hero in films such as Marie Antoinette, Jesse James, Brigham Young, Johnny Apollo, The Mark of Zorro, Blood and Sand, The Black Swan, Prince of Foxes, The Sun Also Rises, The Rains Came, The Eddie Duchin Story and Captain From Castile. In spite of his great popularity as a leading man, he longed to play more serious character roles to prove his mettle as a dramatic actor like his forefathers. Eventually, he got his wish in films such ass The Razor's Edge, Nightmare Alley (his favorite film), Abandon Ship! and Witness For the Prosecution. Director Edmund Goulding called Power "the greatest actor of this generation. Ty had a deep, penetrating intelligence. He had the sensitivity and feeling for life that all fine artists must have. And he had a whale of a sense of humor to give him balance." He earned the respect of people who knew him for being professional, dedicated, and determined to be as good as he could be in all he did. On a personal level, he treated people well, from fans to people on the set.
In August 1942, Power enlisted in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He served as a transport pilot, and saw action in the Pacific Theater of operations. For his services during the war, Tyrone Power was awarded the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in the reserves and reached the rank of Major in 1957. He was married three times, first to French actress Annabella, then to Mexican actress Linda Christian, who gave him two daughters, Romina and Taryn Power. Finally, he married Deborah Minardos, a socialite originally from Mississippi. Tragically, on November 15, 1958, Tyrone Power died at age 44 from a heart attack during the filming of Solomon and Sheba (1959) in Madrid, Spain. His widow gave birth to his only son, Tyrone Power Jr. in 1959 shortly after his death. There are yearly memorial services at Hollywood Forever Cemetery for Tyrone Power on November 15th. He is one of the top 100 box office moneymakers of all time (adjusted for inflation).
Alexander's Ragtime Band is a musical extravaganza released in 1938 that was billed by 20th Century Fox as "the motion picture industry's most magnificent achievement", "one of the greatest dramatic spectacles ever produced" and "a mighty cavalcade of memories telling a great human story!" The talented cast included the beautiful actress and singer, Alice Faye, supported by Don Ameche, Eddie Cantor, Ethel Merman, Jack Haley, John Carradine, and Jean Hersholt. This entertaining film, featuring lavish production values and 28 of Irving Berlin's most popular songs, was a huge hit in its day. Spanning over two decades, it is the story of a society boy who scandalizes his family by pursuing a career in ragtime instead of classical music. Starting in San Franciso's Barbary Coast, the film traces the history of jazz music from ragtime to a swing concert performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Alfred Newman won an Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring. The film, directed by Henry King, was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Story (Irving Berlin), Best Song (Irving Berlin for "Now It Can Be Told"), Best Art Direction (Bernard Herzbrun and Boris Leven) and Best Film Editing (Barbara McLean).
© 2019-2020 Gilda Tabarez