A memory of Jane Powell in a simple, elegant, long-sleeve gown with a bateau neckline at what must have been some televised awards show (how many years ago?), and especially comments made by some reviewers in effect that she outshone all the younger female entertainers. It was true. It was not a patronizing tribute to her representing a fond remembrance of Old Hollywood, like a treasured fossil we take down from the shelf and pay homage to that they don't make them like that anymore -- rather, it was the honest acknowledgement that this lady displayed class and that class is timeless.
I remember feeling proud of her, with that sense of ownership old movie buffs generally have for Old Hollywood.
One would suspect, however, that her elegance and her class on this evening was not effortless; a troubled childhood and difficult apprenticeship in the film industry -- a career she never wanted -- she revealed in her autobiography, The Girl Next Door and How She Grew.
An interesting quality Jane Powell had, however, was that she was able to observe that world like a fly on the wall and inspect it for what it was, holding herself apart. Her diffidence might have given her that quality, but her impressions, feeling as she did like an outsider looking in, give us a view of the studio system that we don't find in other memoirs. It's also interesting that Jane Powell finally found personal peace and happiness with another child actor with conflicting feelings on his film career, and first met Dick "Dickie" Moore when he was writing his own book: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, Don't Have Sex or Take the Car.
She eventually accepted her role as an alum of that rare world, and took it in good grace, as evidenced in her appearances in film industry events, and especially taking over the host position on TCM in 2011 when Robert Osborne was on medical leave. She had a long career on film, television, and the stage, and if being the girl next door in her early movies was such a small part of her life, she seemed resigned to allowing us to cherish it, even if it did not mean quite so much to her.