Those who have had the pleasure of meeting Tyrone Power, talk of his charm and his poise. He has the ease of manner, the culture and graciousness for which producers and directors are forever searching. He receives one with the cordiality and sincere interest that gives impetus to conversation.
Yet....a few years ago, Hollywood turned its back nonchalantly on the handsome brown-eyed youth. In the language of the studios, Hollywood gave Tyrone Power a "kick in the pants" and a "slap in the face" and sent him on his tortuous route to Broadway success on the stage.
Just how much obstacles play in the game of building a career is difficult to determine. This much is apparent, however, no man has ever risen to greatness without being forced to hurdle some obstacle, or to overcome some handicap.
In the case of youthful Tyrone Power, it was his distinguished ancestry, more than any one thing, that proved a handicap, insofar as Hollywood was concerned. Even on Broadway, it was an obstacle, for a time, to be overcome in establishing himself as an individual--as an actor by right of his own shining talent.
Tyrone's ancestral trees on both sides of the family bear many famous names. On the paternal side, the roots of the tree are imbedded in the soil of Ireland, and in England; on the maternal side, in France and America. When the fighting blood of such a foursome mingles and flows through the heart of a courageous youth, it is a combination hard to beat.
Success, apparently, is in the blood. there are some humans whom Fate can never keep down. They march forward and take by divine right the best the world affords. But success, after all, is nothing more than courage....the will to fight and keep on when everything seems darkest.
Of such stuff ins young Tyrone Power made. You will see for yourself as his story unfolds.
Tyrone Power, 20th Century-Fox star, is the third of his family to beat the name. the first was his great-grandfather, namend after County Tyrone, the homeland of the Power family, and his son, Harold Power, was the father of Tyrone, the second, who, in turn, named his only son, the subject of this sketch, Tyrone. Harold Power, during his lifetime, was one of England's famous concert pianists. Young Tyrone's father was born in London.
Tyrone's mother, Patia Power, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. she is an exceptionally beautiful and talented woman. Her voice is recognized by critics as one of the most expressive and flexible on the state and radio. Her eyes and her smile, all embracing, she gave to her son and their duplication of his mother's are among his outstanding assets.
Her family name is Reaume. She was given the name of Emma at birth, but at the time she married Mr. Power in 1912, she had her name changed legally to Patia, and as Patia Power she is known throughout the theatrical and radio world.
Tyrone Power, the third, was born one bright spring day--May 5, 1914--at 5:30 o'clock in the afternoon, in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the home of his Grandmother Reaume, 2112 Fulton Avenue.
In speaking of that eventful occasion, Mrs. Power said: "Tyrone was a most considerate baby. I was appearing with Mr. Power in Shakespearean roles during this parental period, and I worked ion the stage until within two months of his birth. Incidentally, consideration for others has always been one of my boy’s outstanding characteristics."
When Tyrone was between two and three months of age, his parents were signed under contract to Famous Players and worked in silent pictures in about [and about] New York. When the baby was a year old, they were transferred to Hollywood under contract to Selig pictures.
When Tyrone was seventeen months of age, his sister, Ann, was born in Hollywood. Ann is now Mrs. Leslie Tyrer.
Shortly afterward, Mr. Power was engaged to play in the New York stage production of "Chu Chin Chow." The family moved to New York and established a home there.
Little Tyrone, who was a frail child until his seventh year, could not combat with the rigors of an eastern winter. Patia Power and the two children returned to California, going directly to San Diego.
By that time, the first of the American Expeditionary forces and landed in France. Mrs. Power provided a home for herself and the children, secured a dependable nurse for them and entered into the work of the American Red Cross. Troops for overseas service and for coast defense were mobilizing in the and about San Diego harbor. Realizing the need for entertainment in the various camps, Patia Power, always resourceful organized a branch of the Stage Women's War Relief, a unit of the Red Cross. she formed a little stock company, the Power Players, and, for the duration of the war and through the demobilization period, she staged plays, vaudeville shows and concerts for the men at arms in the recreation halls and huts. she received national recognition for her valiant service.
In the meantime, little Tyrone played on the sands of Coronado beach, gaining in health and strength in the sunshine, with his sister, Ann.
When her war work was completed, Patia Power moved with the children to Alhambra, in the sun-kissed San Gabriel Valley, near Los Angeles. She had been engaged to play the leading feminine role, Senora Josefa Yorba, in John Steven McGroarty's celebrated Mission Play, staged annually at old Mission San Gabriel. she played the part, which, for its emotional appeal was the high spot in the production, for five seasons.
One might say that Tyrone was literally brought up on the Mission Play, as a child. His mother's dressing room was his playroom and also his classroom during the run of the play every season. He was always asking Mr. McGroarty when he and Ann would be "growed up enough" to be real actors in the production.
It was a red-letter day in his life, when at the age of seven years, Mr. McGroarty assigned him to the role of Pablo, a neophyte of the Franciscan padres. It was his first role in any theatre.
Strangely enough the older Tyrone Power, during his residence in Hollywood, played the role of Father Junipero Serra, founder of the California missions, in the McGGroarty play when the boy was two years of age. Mrs. Power took the children to see their father. Ann was a babe in arms. It was the first time either had even been inside of a theatre.
Mr. McGroarty was so impressed with young Tyrone's talent in the Pablo role that, when he decided to stage his next play, "La Golodrina" he gave the boy, then seven, an important role. The piece, dealing with early California life, was staged in the Mission theatre also.
Edwin Schallert, dean of Los Angeles dramatic critics, reviewing "La Golondrina" in the Los Angeles Times, said: "Among those cited for masterful performances is Master Tyrone Power, especially, for the miniature hit."
In 1923, Patia Power was engaged by the Schuster-Martin School of Drama, in Cincinnati, to take over the chair of voice and dramatic expression. with the children she moved to the Ohio city and again established a home.
Tyrone, always a slender child was restored to splendid health during the years in California. He was enrolled with his sister, at the Sisters of Mercy Academy in the third grade. When Tyrone reached the sixth grade he was sent to St. Xavier Academy where he completed his elementary school work. From there, he went to the preparatory school of the University of Dayton, in Dayton, Ohio. this was the boy's first experience in being away from home. Like all the other schools he attended, it was parochial under the supervision of the Brothers of Mary. He spent two semesters at Dayton and then returned to Cincinnati and entered Purcell High School, also a Brothers of Mary institution. He graduated from Purcell in 1931, at the age of seventeen.
During school years he took active part in dramatics, studied the speech arts under his mother's supervision and played the lead in the senior class play the year he graduated. The play was "Officer 666." Tyrone also "went to business" during those adolescent years. When he was fifteen he worked as a drug clerk and when he was sixteen he ushered at the Orpheum Theatre when not in school.
when he graduated from Purcell, there was a family conference relative to sending the boy to College. He persuaded his parents to permit him to take a practical course in Shakespearean roles on the spoken stage, rather than go to college. He wanted more than anything in the world to be not only an actor, but a good actor. and that is his ideal today in his screen work....but, now, he not only want to be a good actor, he wants to be the best.
Mr. Power had been engaged for a short season in Shakespearean repertoire in the Chicago Civic Auditorium for the early fall of 1931. Others in the notable cast were Fritz Leiber, William Faversham and Helen Mencken.
He decided to give his son the opportunity he craved. With that in mind, he took Tyrone to a quiet summer retreat in Quebec. There, during the summer of 1931, under the direction of his father, recognized as one of the greatest actors in theatrical history, the boy was given intensive study and rehearsals in roles, small though they were, that he was to delineate in the Chicago season. It was a summer for young Tyrone never to be forgotten...a priceless memory of a beloved father.
The first production in which Tyrone appeared as a professional actor was "The Merchant of Venice" and he played an old man, friend of the Doge of Venice, impersonated b his illustrious father.
And...in that first professional appearance, Tyrone came as near to a tragic ending as any human would ever care to be!
As part of the action of his part, Fritz Leiber, playing the title role, picked up a huge knife of the period. while gesticulating with it, inadvertently it slipped from his grasp, flying across the stage with terrific force. It passed so close to Tyrone's cheek that it fanned his hair! It stuck in the scenery at this back almost up to the hilt! The boy, posed, as always remained in character and perfectly calm. His father, sitting nearby in a chair, stiffened clenched the sides of the chair and breathed in a whisper: "My God! Son, are you hurt?" Lieber had practically collapsed, fearing the worst. The audience, for several minutes went through an emotional upheaval.
Thus, was Tyrone Power's introduction to the stage!
At the conclusion of the Chicago season, Mr. Power was engaged to go to Hollywood to play the starring role in Paramount's spoken production of "The Miracle Man." Tyrone went to Hollywood also, as he had been promised a small part in the play. Ms. Power was taken ill on the set. But, trouper that he was, he made no complaint and worked until midnight, when he collapsed. Tyrone was called and took him home. At four o'clock that morning--December 30, 1931, he died in his son's arms.
Patia Power and Ann came at once form Cincinnati to be with Tyrone. The small pat he was to have in "The Miracle Man" did not materialize. He began to hunt for work. He did the usual thing, making the rounds of the casting offices and the agents sanctums. All turned deaf ears to the boy. He had no opportunity to display his wares. If he were given an appointment, it was because some oldster wished to reminisce about his father, recalling when they had seen him as
Brutus in "Julius Caesar": or Abu Hasan in "Chu Chin Chow;" or Sir Anthony Absolute in "The Rivals;" or a dozen other notable characterizations, while the boy listened attentively, but inwardly realizing that he was up against the biggest obstacle to date.
Tyrone, with his mother and sister, moved to Santa Barbara, where they became actively identified with the Community Theatre, the boy studying, always, to perfect his work, under his mother's direction. when he was not working in a little theatre play, he was in Hollywood trying to get a "break."
After trying for nearly two years to get by the casting director's offices n Hollywood..."almost getting somewhere, but never quite"...Tyrone decided to go to New York city and try to make the grade on the spoken stage. He sallied forth with his mother's blessing and the good wishes of his friends, determined to "fight it out."
That decision changed the whole course of his career.
En route to New York he stopped off in Chicago to see some of his friends. the Century of Progress Exposition was in full swing and he was engaged for the circuit Theatre productions. He ventured into radio and landed, happily, on the same program, "Grand Hotel," with Don Ameche. The charming friendship between the two young men was established at that time and renewed with much happiness when they met again at 20th Century Fox. Incidentally, both don and Tyrone made scores of tests for the role of Jonathan Blake in "Lloyds of London," with Tyrone winning the coveted role in the final test.
Tyrone did quite a bit of radio work while in Chicago, working in dramatic plays and in the religious hour sponsored by Sears-Roebuck. It was not all "sweetness and light" for him during that period, but it was experience and he was learning something constructive as time passed.
Toward the close of 1934, which proved a memorable year for Tyrone, he was engaged to lay the part of Freddie in "Romance," produced by Luther Greene at the Blackstone Theatre, Chicago, with the brilliant Eugenie Leontovitch starred. The piece ran eight weeks.
At the conclusion Tyrone decided it was time to be on his way to his destination--New York--and, he hoped--Broadway.
Then began another whirl at the casting managers offices. He budgeted his savings and allowed himself five dollars per week upon which to live and provide for himself generally.
His first "break" came in the form of a comfortable sleeping room, rent-free, through the hospitality of the gracious Michael Strange, an old family friend, former wife of John Barrymore.
His first real behind-the-scenes "break" in his New York experience came through the courtesy of Helen Mencken, the noted stage star, whom he had met during the Shakespearean season in Chicago.
She ;phoned Guthrie McClintic, eminent stage director and husband of Katharine Cornell, that when young Tyrone :Power sought him for an interview, it would be to his advantage to see the boy. She knew his parents and she knew the youngster had talent--lots of it.
Tyrone wanted very much to see Katharine Cornell, then appearing in "Flowers of the forest." He did not have the money to spend on a theatre ticket, so he went to Stanley Ghilkey, manager of Miss Cornell, to ask for a pass. He did not have to ask. Mr. Ghilkey gave him a pair of passes and Mr. McClintic gave him a couple of parts to take home and read.
Tyrone was so excited for such a "in" with the theatrical great that, after seeing "Flowers of the Forest" that night, he remained up until dawn writing his mother and sister all the details of his thrilling experience.
By request he went back to Guthrie McClintic's office the next day. He was assigned to understudy two players, one of them being Burgess Meredith, the leading man. Tyrone did not have an opportunity to appear in either role on the stage during the season, but he spent his time in observing and absorbing the work and the technique of the artists in the cast.
When the Cornell season closed Tyrone went to a summer stock company at West Falmouth, Mass. In his pocket was a contract to play the role of Benvolio, friend of Romeo, in Katharine Cornells' production of "Romeo and Juliet" at the Martin Beck Theatre, New York, in the fall.
By the time he had appeared in a few plays at West Falmouth notable in "On Stage" in which he made a distinct hit in the role of Jerry, the Hollywood scouts, no less, were on his trail--on his heels, literally, as a matter of fact.
Tyrone, however, wanted to learn more about acting through spoken stage experience. He was convinced, after removing many obstacles from his path to Broadway, that when de did go to Hollywood-and he always felt he would, when the time was right--he wanted "to land, not to creep."
The tryout of "Romeo and Juliet" was held in Baltimore. Patia Power was there to see her boy in his first Broadway production. How she reacted to that momentous night is best told in her won words.
"I was pleased with the way Tyrone held up his part. He really gave excellent support to the more experienced players--gave them line for line--and never let them down once. I was really proud of his work, both as a mother and as an instructor. When we talked it over afterward I impressed upon him how much work he must do in order to keep up to the high standard he had set in the tryout.
After the run of "Romeo and Juliet", Tyrone was engaged again by Katharine Cornell to play the part of De Ponlengey in her production of "St. Joan," at the Martin Beck Theatre, New York, February, 1936.
By this time, 20th Century-Fox had made a test of Tyrone. It was screened by Darryl F. Zanuck in Hollywood. with a keen and uncanny sense of seeing beyond what the screen unfolds, and with the ability to visualize players in parts he has in mind for the future, the great producer signed Tyrone to a seven-year contract under the 20th Century-Fox banner.
Tyrone is six feet tall; weighs 155 pounds. He is a handsome youth with dark brown hair and luminous brown eyes. He is a thoroughbred in all the name implies. He is a distinctive addition to the screen's roster of eminently worthwhile players.
He believes in hunches. Follows them. He followed a hunch the day he went to ask for the pass to Katharine Cornells' show.
His favorite flower is the white carnation. His mother says when he was even a tiny baby a white carnation was ever a source of delight to him. His favorite superstition is whistling in the dressing room. His greatest fear is that of being shut in...as in a cave or a mine....claustrophobia.
Among the classic authors he prefers Hugo, and Shakespeare is his favorite classical playwright. Of the moderns, he prefers Maxwell Anderson. His favorite historical character is Cyrano de Bergerac.
His favorite classical orchestration is "Tales in the Vienna Woods;" favorite classical painter, Van Gogh; favorite illustrator, Petty; favorite modern painter, Grant Wood; favorite modern author, Thorne Smith; favorite play, "Ethan Frome."
Reads incessantly...anything that is interesting and constructive and to keep in touch with contemporary magazines likes to read the Reader's Digest.
His favorite color is blue...any shade of blue. His favorite fruit is the avocado....very fond of them.
He is especially fond of outdoor sports and is a football fan. Always wanted to play football when in school and would go out every season for a tryout but did not make the team "because he was too skinny"....just a bean-pole as a boy.
His hobby is amateur photography with a 16mm. camera. He swims, plays tennis and rides horseback when not engaged at the studio.
Tyrone is married to Annabella, the French actress. The wedding took place at her Bel Air home on April 23, 1939.
He says if he should leave Hollywood he would return to New York and the stage...and...perhaps do some writing, a talent in which he excels in a measure almost paralleled with his acting ability.