About Howard Keel

Howard Keel was an American actor and singer who left an indelible mark on both Broadway and Hollywood, particularly during the 1950s when he emerged as one of the premier stars of the musical film genre. Born as Harry Clifford Keel in Gillespie, Illinois, on April 13, 1919, his early years bore little hint of the stardom that awaited him. It was his deep, rich baritone voice that would eventually propel him into the limelight, initially winning him acclaim on the Broadway stage before he transitioned to becoming a leading man in cinema.

Keel’s Broadway debut came in 1947 with a significant role in “Carousel,” but it was his portrayal of the charismatic cowboy Curly in the London production of “Oklahoma!” that really put him on the map. His performance not only wowed London audiences but also caught the attention of Hollywood, leading to a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), one of the premier movie studios responsible for producing many of the best-known musicals of the era.

At MGM, Howard Keel found himself at the heart of the golden age of the Hollywood musical. He starred in a series of films that have since become classics. Among these, “Annie Get Your Gun” (1950), “Show Boat” (1951), and “Kiss Me Kate” (1953), showcased not only his powerful singing voice but also his considerable charm and screen presence. Perhaps his most memorable role was in the 1954 film “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” As Adam Pontipee, Keel led a high-energy cast in what became one of the decade’s most beloved musicals, renowned for its vibrant dance sequences and catchy tunes.

Aside from his musical roles, Keel demonstrated versatility as an actor, taking on dramatic roles in films such as “The War Wagon” (1967) and “Arizona Bushwhackers” (1968). Despite the shifting trends in Hollywood that saw musical films’ popularity wane in the late 1960s, Keel managed to extend his career into television, most notably in the long-running series “Dallas,” where he played the character Clayton Farlow from 1981 to 1991. This role introduced him to a new generation of fans and showcased his ability to adapt to the changing entertainment landscape.

Howard Keel’s impact on entertainment was profound, and his legacy persists through the timeless quality of his films. His voice, once described as one of the best baritones of his era, made an indelible mark on the musical genre, both on stage and screen. In 1996, he was fittingly honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a testament to his contributions to the world of film and music.

Passing away in 2004 at the age of 85, Howard Keel left behind a rich tapestry of performances that continue to enchant audiences across the world. For many, he epitomizes a bygone era of Hollywood splendor, when musicals ruled the box office and a leading man’s baritone could carry a film to greatness. Howard Keel’s legacy is that of a true showbiz legend, whose talent and charisma will forever be remembered.