'Gods Like Us': 6 stories of Hollywood from Ty Burr's new book

Here are 6 tales of Hollywood lore in 'Gods Like Us.'

2. William Powell makes the transition to 'talkies'


While "talkies" meant the death of some actors' careers, others made the transition without a problem or even came out better on the other side. "The Thin Man" actor William Powell played a villain when movies were still silent, but soon after sound in films was created, he played a detective in the 1929 film "The Canary Murder Case," the hero who tries to solve the mystery. Audiences apparently loved Powell as the protagonist. "I heard my first talking picture a few days ago," a fan letter read in Photoplay magazine. "It was 'The Canary Murder Case.' I thought it was great! William Powell had always been fixed in my mind as a villain of the screen until then. He will never seem the same to me again and I am glad of it, because I like him so much better this way. He has a really remarkable voice. It is so easily understood and contains such a soothing quality. Let's hear and see more of him!" Audiences would in films such as the "Thin Man" film series, "My Man Godfrey," and "The Great Ziegfeld."

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