Powell’s transition to film noir characters in the 1940s revamped his career and established him as a multifaceted performer, particularly skillful at playing tough heroes. Beginning in the late 1950s, Powell concentrated his career on television production and directing. Powell spent the majority of his youth in the nearby town of Little Rock, where his vocal abilities were recognized by the city. He sang together with the area orchestra and choir, forming his own group, Peter Pan, by the age of 17. Soon after, Powell and his group went on the street, appearing in such states as Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, while learning how to play the coronet, clarinet, saxophone and piano.
Warner Bros. possessed the Pennsylvania theater and studio executives, conscious of his gifts, offered Powell a component in the musical Blessed Event (1933). Pleased with his performance, the studio presented him with a long term contract. Powell starred in a lot of Warner Bros. most famous musical productions including 42nd Street (1933), Footlight Parade (1933) and Dames (1934). Powell was likewise featured in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935), where he starred opposite Olivia de Havilland.