Thursday, March 20, 2008

William Powell and Myrna Loy - Forever 'Nick and Nora Charles'

I'm a big fan of comedy movies, especially those of the 1930s and 1940s. Among my favorites are the "Thin Man" series of comedy-mysteries.

The "Thin Man" movies starred William Powell and Myrna Loy as 'Nick and Nora Charles'. 'Nick' was a detective who retired after marrying wealthy 'Nora'. He just couldn't stay away from trying to solve murders and other crimes, thanks to being pushed by his wife who also became his "associate detective". Their characters were heavy drinkers and some of the humor was focused on alcohol-fueled antics. They also had a little dog, Asta, a wire-haired terrier who accompanied them almost everywhere.

When I wrote to Mr. Powell in 1980, he was already long retired, living in Palm Springs. I sent him a couple of photos which he signed with only his name, and there is a slight 'shakiness' in the signature. You can see the photos here and here.

I wrote to Myrna Loy about the same time, and sent her this photo, which she signed and promptly returned. She was living in New York City.

About a year later, a friend sent me some glossy photos as a gift, and one was a very nice portrait of Powell and Loy, with Asta. I first sent the photo to Mr. Powell, who signed it, once again with only his name (and he abbreviated 'William' as 'Wm.'), and then to Ms. Loy, who not only signed it from herself, but also from 'Asta'. In my letter to her, I'd asked about the dog's real name, and she wrote this note on the back of the photo: "The dog's name was Skippy. I don't know when they changed if they did." By "changed", she was referring to if more than one dog was used over the course of the series.

The photos signed by Mr. Powell were apparently among the last ones he actually signed, as shortly after, some friends sent him photos and they were returned with a rubber-stamped signature.

For a series of clips highlighting some of the humor in the movies, look at this YouTube video. And here's another one highlighting the alcohol-related humor.

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