Jane Powell appears at screening of MGM musical

A screening of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which features one of the most rousing dance numbers on film, will be shown this Saturday, April 12, at 3 p.m. at the Weston High School auditorium.

Sponsored by WestonArts, the film’s star, Jane Powell, will be on hand after the film to discuss her life and career in a Q&A hosted by actress Maureen Anderman.

Set in Oregon in 1850, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is considered one of the best MGM musicals of the 1950s and features highly energetic choreography by Michael Kidd, including a boisterous ax-jumping, barn-raising scene.

In the film, Ms. Powell plays Milly, the new bride of rancher Adam (Howard Keel), who is tasked with teaching her husband’s brothers manners when it comes to courting their future brides.

A triple threat, Ms. Powell acts, sings, and dances in the film, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and won an Oscar for Best Musical Score. “It was a lovely story and a lovely film,” Ms. Powell said in an exclusive interview with The Bulletin’s sister paper, The Weston Forum.

She said the dancers in the film, which included Julie Newmar, Russ Tamblyn and Jacques d’Amboise, were from New York, which brought a different sensibility to the film than traditional Hollywood-style dancers. “They were so good and Michael Kidd was a great choreographer,” Ms. Powell said.

Long career

Ms. Powell, who lives in Wilton with her husband, Dickie Moore, has had a show business career that spans more than 50 years.

Born Suzanne Lorraine Burce on April 1, 1929, in Oregon, she took the name Jane Powell after the name of a character she played in her first movie role, Song of the Open Road.

She was signed to a contract with MGM while still in her teens, and appeared in a number of studio musicals, including Royal Wedding with Fred Astaire and A Date with Judy with her friend Elizabeth Taylor.

Ms. Powell moved away from movies at the end of the 1950s and in ensuing years had an active career working in television and on the stage. She also performed for five presidents — including at the inauguration of Harry S. Truman and at a state dinner for Dwight D. Eisenhower — and Queen Elizabeth on a royal visit to Washington, D.C.

Her last major TV appearance was a guest spot on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2002.

East Coast move

While Ms. Powell spent most of her life on the West Coast, she was enticed to come east by Mr. Moore, a child actor, who interviewed her for his autobiography, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, But Don’t Have Sex or Take the Car.

The two married in 1988 (Ms. Powell’s fifth marriage), and while living in New York City searched for a home in Connecticut to serve as their weekend house. They found their country home in Wilton, and it has become the couple’s main residence. “I like New England, I would never live in California again,” she said.

Ms. Powell has three grown children and two grandchildren and enjoys cooking and reading. Asked the secret to her good health and longevity, Ms. Powell is rather modest. “I guess it’s just good genes, I don’t know. I guess I just have a positive attitude,” she said with a laugh.

With a huge body of work to her credit, she said one of her favorite films is Two Weeks with Love, a 1950 romantic musical set in the early 1900s. Ms. Powell’s leading man in the film was Ricardo Montalban, and the film included the famous song Aba Daba Honeymoon. “I think this is my favorite film because it’s a warm, family piece,” she said.

Actress Maureen Anderman of Weston, who has been friends with Ms. Powell for nearly 30 years, will host the Q&A following the screening.

—Jeannette Ross contributed

to this story.