Jane Powell was born in Oregon on April 1, 1929, as Suzanne Lorraine Burce, and studied and performed as a child — her parents hoping she would be the next Shirley Temple, complete with curls. She got some nightclub jobs and a weekly radio show, per The Hollywood Reporter, growing up very quickly.
When her family moved to Los Angeles before she started high school, she became part of the MGM movie machine when she caught the studio’s attention while singing in Janet Gaynor’s radio show “Stars Over Hollywood.” She made her first film, “Song of the Open Road,” at 15 as a loan to United Artists, playing a character very much like herself — a child star who longed to live a normal life — named Jane Powell. MGM demanded that she take the name and make it her own after the film. Powell did three more films after her massive MGM hits, but she could see the waning interest in movie musicals and asked to be released from her MGM contract at 26, per TCM. She moved on to television and theatre, performing in road productions of classic musicals like “Oklahoma!,” “Carousel,” and “South Pacific,” again opposite Howard Keel. She made her Broadway debut in 1973’s “Irene,” and appeared in Stephen Sondheim’s “Bounce.”
Powell was married five times, the first at age 20 to Geary Steffin, and most recently to Dickie Moore, who died in 2015. She has three children, Geary and Suzanne, as well as two grandchildren, Skye & Tia.