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Ona Munson

ONA MUNSON (American actress, b. 1903, d. 1955) Ona Munson was an improbable choice to play the whiskey-voiced prostitute with a heart of gold, Belle Watling, in "Gone With the Wind." Born Ona Wolcott in Portland, Oregon in 1903, she first came to fame on Broadway as the singing and dancing ingenue in the original production of "No, No, Nanette." She had a very successful stage and radio career in the 1930’s in New York. She introduced the song "You're the Cream In My Coffee," to New York audiences. She was the antithesis of the voluptuous Belle: tall, freckled, and of slight build. But her skills as an actress electrified her screen test: it was all in the voice. She spoke deep and throaty in her test, and her voice conveyed sexiness and worldliness. The needed look for Belle could be created in the wardrobe and makeup departments. Early on, Selznick had announced Mae West was to play Belle, but this was of course a publicity stunt. Tallulah Bankhead refused the role as too small. Ona Munson’s career was stalemated by the acclaim of GWTW. She was typecast in similar roles, and in 1955, plagued by ill health, she committed suicide with an overdose of barbiturates in her apartment in New York.


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She was typecast in similar roles, and in 1955, plagued by ill health, she committed suicide with an overdose of barbiturates in her apartment in New York. Resources: Official Eleanor Powell Tribute Site (http://www.lynnpdesign.com/classicmovies/tapdancing/bio.html), IMDB.com (http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0007224/bio). Ona Munson’s career was stalemated by the acclaim of GWTW. Eleanor Powell died of cancer on 11 February 1982 and was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood. Tallulah Bankhead refused the role as too small. Powell was reintroduced to audiences in the popular That's Entertainment! documentary in 1974, and its sequels That's Entertainment Part II and That's Entertainment III which spotlighted her dancing from films such as Broadway Melody of 1940 and Born to Dance. Early on, Selznick had announced Mae West was to play Belle, but this was of course a publicity stunt. Her son, Peter Ford, was a regular on this show.

The needed look for Belle could be created in the wardrobe and makeup departments. She also hosted an Emmy Award-winning Sunday morning TV program for children entitled The Faith of Our Children (1953 - 1955). She spoke deep and throaty in her test, and her voice conveyed sexiness and worldliness. In her later years, she became interested in religion, and was actually ordained a minister of the Unity Church. But her skills as an actress electrified her screen test: it was all in the voice. She divorced Ford in 1959, and that year started a highly-publicized nightclub career, maintaining her good figure and looks well into middle age. She was the antithesis of the voluptuous Belle: tall, freckled, and of slight build. In 1950, Powell returned to MGM just once, to guest star in The Duchess of Idaho, starring Esther Williams.

She introduced the song "You're the Cream In My Coffee," to New York audiences. She danced in a giant pinball machine in Sensations of 1945 (1944), but this picture was a large disappointment, and Powell retired from the cinema to concentrate on raising her son, actor Peter Ford, who was born that year. 1955) Ona Munson was an improbable choice to play the whiskey-voiced prostitute with a heart of gold, Belle Watling, in "Gone With the Wind." Born Ona Wolcott in Portland, Oregon in 1903, she first came to fame on Broadway as the singing and dancing ingenue in the original production of "No, No, Nanette." She had a very successful stage and radio career in the 1930’s in New York. She parted ways with MGM in 1943 after Thousands Cheer, in which she did a specialty number, and the same year married Canadian lead actor Glenn Ford. 1903, d. She was signed to play opposite Dan Dailey in For Me and My Gal in 1942, but the two actors were removed from the picture during rehearsals and replaced by Gene Kelly and Judy Garland. ONA MUNSON (American actress, b. The same happened with Red Skelton in Ship Ahoy (1942) and I Dood It (1943).

1941's Lady Be Good gave Powell top billing, but Robert Young and Ann Sothern carried the movie. In the 1940s, after being sidelined for many months following a gall stone operation, things changed somewhat for the worse, at least as far as Powell's movie career was concerned. Together, Astaire and Powell danced to Porter's "Begin The Beguine", which is considered by many to have been the greatest tap sequence in film history. Most of these movies featured her amazing solo tapping, although her increasingly huge production numbers began to attract criticism. Broadway Melody of 1940, in which Powell starred opposite Fred Astaire, featured a brilliant musical score by Cole Porter.

Films she made during the height of her career in the mid-to-late 1930s co-starred these men and others and included Born to Dance (1936), Rosalie (1937), Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), Honolulu (1939), and Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940). Powell would go on to star opposite many of the decade's top leading men such as Jimmy Stewart, Robert Taylor, Fred Astaire, George Murphy, Nelson Eddy, and Robert Young. She was well-received in Broadway Melody of 1936 (in which she was supported by Jack Benny and Frances Langford), and delighted 1930s audiences with her endless energy and enthusiasm, not to mention her stunning dancing. Nonetheless, she was signed by MGM soon after, which groomed her for her future stardom making minimal changes in her (non-Egyptian) makeup and conduct.

The experience left her unimpressed with Hollywood. In 1935, the leggy, fresh-faced Powell made the move to Hollywood and did a specialty number in George White's 1935 Scandals which she later described as a disaster due in part to her accidentally being made up to look like an Egyptian due to a mix-up prior to filming her scene. During this time, she was dubbed "the world's greatest tap dancer" due to her machine-gun footwork. When she was 17, she brought her graceful, athletic style to Broadway, where she starred in various revues and musicals.

A dancer since childhood, she was discovered at the age of 11 by the head of the Vaudeville Kiddie revue, Gus Edwards. Eleanor Torrey Powell was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Eleanor Powell (21 November 1912 - 11 February 1982) was an American actress and dancer of the 1930s and 1940s, known for her exuberant solo tap dancing.

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