28 August 2002 | telegonus
Four Star Effort
This was the last television series Dick Powell was involved in, and the best. As a longtime movie star, first as a singer, then in tough guy roles, he saw the writing on the wall when he went into television in 1952 as one of the several stars on the anthology Four Star Playhouse. The production company, also called Four Star, was Powell's baby, and though he was only co-owner, he ran the company. As the years went by Four Star grew, ultimately surpassing even the mighty Desilu as the most successful independent production company in the business. Among the best remembered Four Star series: Zane Grey Theatre (hosted by Powell), Richard Diamond, The Rifelman, Wanted: Dead Or Alice, The Detectives. Powell was in large measure responsible for giving the first big breaks to such budding writers and film-makers as Roy Huggins, Blake Edwards, Sam Peckinpah and Aaron Spelling.
As to The Dick Powell Show, it was a major effort, and like Zane Grey, hosted by Powell himself, featuring top-notch talent in front of and behind the camera. Indepedendent producers were somewhat under siege in the early sixties, as the movie studios, with their back-lots and huge amounts of money, were moving heavily into television production. Powell perhaps saw this show as his best shot against the big studios. It was. Many of the best episodes were outstandingly written, and the show won an Emmy or two in its first season. It looked like the series was headed for a solid three to five year run. Tragically, Powell was struck down by cancer, and died in the middle of the second season. Four Star never wholly recovered from Powell's death, and neither in a way did television. This was and is a prime example of filmed anthology television at or near its best, and we shall not see anything of like quality on the networks anytime soon.