Tyrone Power was born on this day- May 5th in 1914. He was a true matinee idol & one of the most beautiful men to ever appear in American films & on Broadway. He was a major star at 20th Century Fox where he fought for & was given great roles that allowed him show that he was more than just gorgeous.
Tyrone Power was married 3 times & had 3 children. He had a hugely heralded affair with Lana Turner & a reticent romance with Judy Garland. Power was so beautiful that everyone wanted him. In the biography Tyrone Power: The Last Idol by Fred Lawrence Guiles, his first wife, the one name only French actress- Annabella, stated: "Ty just couldn't say no!" It seems that Power said yes to quite a few gentlemen.
According to Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood & the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars by Scotty Bowers, which I read in February, Power had steamy movie star sex with the writer & joined in on 3 ways with Bowers & another man & a girl. According to Bowers, Power was a sex machine & a sweetheart, a winning combo.
Power had liaisons with many men during his career, including Lorenz Hart & fellow actor Cesar Romero. Handsome Power had his pick of many of the most attractive men on the studio lots. Power was not afraid to be seen in public with men known to be homos: George Cukor, Clifton Webb, Reginald Gardner, Van Johnson, & bi-sexual Howard Hughes. In Errol Flynn: The Untold Story, author Charles Higham reports that Power had a sexual relationship with Errol Flynn. He was so loved by the Hollywood community that they all gaily looked the other way.
But my research points to Power enjoying his greatest gay love affair with a technician at 20th Century Fox, whom he had a sexual & romantic relationship that lasted for decades.
Power came from a theatrical family that dated back to the 1800s. He was just 22 when he received fourth billing in his big break- Lloyds of London. In the late 1930s & early 1940s, Power had a string of hits, including great work as the starring role in The Mark of Zorro & as the doomed bullfighter in Blood & Sand where he battled with Rita Hayworth to be the most luscious star.
Power left Hollywood in 1943 for the Marines. When he returned to Hollywood in 1946 he enjoyed having an unlikely smash hit with The Razor's Edge, my favorite of his films, based on the popular gay writers W. Somerset Maugham novel. Power played a man on a quest for the meaning of life that leads him on a spiritual journey ending in India. His co-star was the nearly as gorgeous Gene Tierney & Anne Baxter won an Oscar for this glossy film version, the top grossing film for Fox, & one of the truly transcendent films from Hollywood's Golden Age.
At this point Power insisted on doing the film noir Nightmare Alley where he played a conniving carnival geek. As directed by the great gay director Edmund Goulding (Dark Victory), this film gave Power the best role of his career & his reviews were excellent, but Zanuck would not publicize it & the film vanished quickly, only to become a cult favorite in the next century. I caught it on AMC in February.
In 1946 Power & Annabella had grown apart & the marriage ended. He was still a marine, but he managed a 6 week trip to South America with his on-again off-again lover- Cesar Romero. Upon his return, he entered into a tempestuous relationship with Lana Turner, who was then the queen of MGM & between husbands. The Turner romance was too drama filled & to satisfy the studio, he married Latin starlet Linda Christian. The couple had 2 daughters before that marriage ended in 1955.
Power would only get one more great role playing the charming murderer in the terrific Witness For The Prosecution, directed by Billy Wilder & co-starring the awesome hammy & homosexual- Charles Laughton, Power's performance was a revelation. Power died the next of a heart attack while filming Solomon & Sheba with director King Vidor on a hot Spanish summer afternoon. He was only 44 years old.
In his career of 25 years, Power had made 50 films Like most bi-sexual & homosexual Hollywood stars, Power lived in fear of being outed. Although studio head Darryl Zanuck liked Power personally, he was afraid of losing Fox’s resident matinée idol & biggest moneymaker, if the movie going public were to know that Power enjoyed sex with guys. But, Power continued to have sex with both men & women. Sure, he had that affair with Judy Garland, but what gay male celebrity of the time didn’t?
His name was invoked in an underwear commercial by spokesman Wally Cox who said: "I may look like Wally Cox, but inside I'm Tyrone Power".