Monday, November 15, 2010
Celebrity Grave: Actor Tyrone Power
Tyrone Edmund Power, Jr. (May 5, 1914 – November 15, 1958), usually credited as Tyrone Power and known sometimes as Ty Power, was an American film and stage actor who appeared in dozens of films from the 1930s to the 1950s, often in swashbuckler roles or romantic leads such as in The Mark of Zorro, Blood and Sand, The Black Swan, Prince of Foxes, The Black Rose, and Captain from Castile.
Though renowned for his dark, classically handsome looks that made him a matinee idol from his first film appearance, Power played a wide range of roles, from film noir to light romantic comedy. In the 1950s, he began placing limits on the number of movies he would make in order to have time for the stage. He received his biggest accolades as a stage actor in John Brown's Body and Mister Roberts. Power died from a heart attack at the age of 44.
In 1957, he met Deborah Ann Montgomery Minardos. They were married on May 7, 1958, and she became pregnant soon after. She accompanied her husband to Madrid in September 1958, for the filming of Solomon and Sheba. She was worried about his health and asked him to slow down, but he pushed ahead with the movie. On November 15, 1958, while filming a strenuous dueling scene for the movie, he had a heart attack and died. His wife gave birth to his son, Tyrone Power IV, on January 22, 1959.
Tyrone Power was buried at Hollywood Cemetery, now known as Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, California, at noon, on November 21, 1958, in a military service. The memorial service was held at the Chapel of the Psalms, Hollywood Cemetery, with Chaplain Thomas M. Gibson, U.S.N.R. officiating. The active pallbearers were officers of the United States Marine Corps. Honorary pallbearers were Charles Laughton, Raymond Massey, Tommy Noonan, Theodore Richmond, Murray Steckler, Cesar Romero, Watson Webb, Milton Bren, James Denton, George Sidney, George Cohen, Lew Schreiber, Lew Wasserman, and Harry Brand. Cesar Romero gave the eulogy, using in it a tribute written by Tyrone Power's good friend and frequent co-star, George Sanders. Sanders had written the tribute on the set of Solomon and Sheba, within the first few hours after Power's death. It read as follows:
I shall always remember Tyrone as a bountiful man, a man who gave freely of himself. It mattered not to whom he gave. His concern was in the giving. I shall always remember his wonderful smile, a smile that would light up the darkest hour of the day, like a sunburst. I shall always remember Tyrone Power as a man who gave more of himself than it was wise for him to give, until in the end, he gave his life.
Flying over the service was Henry King, who directed him in eleven movies. Almost 20 years before, Tyrone had flown with King, in King's plane, to the set of Jesse James in Missouri. It was then that Tyrone Power got his first experience with flying, which would become such a big part of his life, both in the U.S. Marines and in his private life. In the foreword to Dennis Belafonte's The Films of Tyrone Power, King said, "Knowing his love for flying and feeling that I had started it, I flew over his funeral procession and memorial park during his burial, and felt that he was with me." Tyrone Power was laid to rest, by a small lake, in one of the most beautiful parts of the cemetery. His grave is marked by a unique tombstone, in the form of a marble bench. On the tombstone are the masks of comedy and tragedy, with the transcription, "Good night, sweet prince." At his grave Laurence Olivier read the poem "High Flight."
Tyrone Power's will, filed on December 8, 1958, contained an unusual provision. It stated his wish that, upon his death, his eyes would be donated to the Estelle Doheny Eye Foundation, for such purposes as the trustees of the foundation should deem advisable, including transplantation of the cornea to the eyes of a living person or retinal study.
On the 50th anniversary of his death, Power was honored by American Cinematheque with a weekend of films and remembrances by co-stars and family, and a memorabilia display. The event was held at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles from November 14–16, 2008.