Tyrone Power: Looking Back at the Famed Matinee Idol

His close friend, actor George Sanders, entered Tyrone Powers’ dressing room shortly after Tyrone had fallen ill filming a dueling scene on the set of the historical drama Solomon and Sheba, in Spain in 1958.

“Even though he was wearing makeup, his face had a sort of bluish color,” George recalled, “but he greeted me with a smile.”

Like so many friends and fans, George was devastated by Tyrone’s passing from a heart ailment later that day. He was just 44.

As the son of stage actor Tyrone Power Sr., Tyrone always felt drawn to acting, but despite his famous name and stunning good looks, Hollywood initially reacted to him with indifference. He had better luck in New York, where he made his Broadway debut in 1935’s Flowers of the Forest.

A year later, Tyrone signed with 20th Century Fox. He’d rise quickly from small roles to leads, enjoying a string of hits from 1936 to 1943, but Tyrone liked gritty parts best and struggled with the assumption that his fame relied on his handsome appearance.

“Someday I will show all the [detractors] who say I was a success just because of my pretty face,” he said. “Sometimes I wish I had a really bad car accident so my face would get smashed up.”

At the onset of World War II, Tyrone put his film career on hold and enlisted in the Marines. Like so many of the dashing characters he played, he had an adventurous spirit and was already an experienced civilian pilot. He trained for combat flying in Corpus Christi, Texas.

“He was an excellent student, never forgot a procedure I showed him or anything I told him,” said Jerry Taylor, his USMC flight instructor. Tyrone served in the Pacific, ferrying much needed supplies to Iwo Jima and evacuating the wounded.

After logging hundreds of hours of flight time, he was discharged in 1946.

“The top moment of my life was when I saw Annabella on the dock,” Tyrone gushed about reuniting with his wife, a French actress, whom he had wed in 1939 over the objections of the studio.

Tyrone Power: Looking Back at the Famed Matinee Idol
Universal Pictures/De Carvalho Collection / Getty Images

Their marriage seemed happy, but his wartime experiences made Tyrone restless. His part as a man who upends his life for a spiritual quest in 1946’s The Razor’s Edge influenced him to ask for his freedom.

“If such a thing as a role in a picture could break up our marriage, we’d already drifted too far apart,” reasoned Annabella.

He wed again in 1949 to Casino Royale actress Linda Christian, who would become the mother of his daughters, Romina and Taryn.

“He was amazing — so sweet and devoted,” Romina tells Closer. “When he came home, he would come straight to the nursery, and when he was on location, he would write to us very often.”

Despite his love for his daughters, the marriage ended in 1956.

Two years later, the actor wed Deborah Minardos, who was pregnant with his son when Tyrone died suddenly in Spain. He was buried with full military honors.

“He was a beautiful man,” his pal Cesar Romero eulogized. “He was beautiful outside, and he was beautiful inside.”

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