John Robert Powers

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John Robert Powers, c. 1955

John Robert Powers (April 16, 1892 – November 1977) was an American actor and founder of a prominent New York City-based modeling agency.

In 1923, John Robert Powers founded a modeling school. The John Robert Powers Agency represented many models who went on to success in the Hollywood film industry. While Powers' clientele was overwhelmingly female, and to be a "Powers Girl" was a much sought-after position[according to whom?], the school also represented several men. The agency was the subject of a 1943 musical comedy, The Powers Girl, in which Alan Mowbray portrays Powers and features Anne Shirley and Carole Landis as aspiring models.

John Robert Powers married Alice Burton (1902–1972). They are buried together in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

USA John Robert Powers "school" vs. "agency" controversy[edit]

The John Robert Powers system is a franchise system and its franchises in the USA have been involved in a controversy over their status as a school vs a talent agency. Critics in the USA describe John Robert Powers franchises in America as using high-pressure sales tactics and misleading advertising.[1] John Robert Powers USA asserts that is not an agency and does not make any percentage of the talents' earnings.

The Los Angeles Better Business Bureau believes that Powers fits the definitions of a "talent agency" and an "advance-fee talent agent" as per California law. Nevertheless, the BBB notes that Powers would "undoubtedly deny that they are either [type of agency]" and that Powers' contracts do not use such terms. The Los Angeles BBB further notes:[2]

JRP websites include photos of famous personalities and name other celebrities as graduates. Pictures of well-known stars such as Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne hang in the lobby of franchises.[3] The Los Angeles Better Business Bureau attempted to contact some of these celebrities through their agents or close family members, and those who responded neither attended classes at JRP nor authorized use of their likeness. Celebrities, their representatives or immediate family members who claimed no involvement with JRP schools included Lucille Ball, Heather Locklear, Barbara Walters, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, John Wayne and Betty Ford.[2] According to the National First Ladies Library biography, Betty Ford worked as a model for the JRP Agency.[4] A Vanity Fair article says Grace Kelly was a model at the JRP agency.[5] The agency was featured in a novel, Polly the Powers Model and the Puzzle of the Haunted Camera (1942), written by Kathryn Heisenfelt. The heroine was a fictitious teenager at the agency.[6]


  1. ^ Traci Hukill (December 9, 1999). "Powers That Be". MetroActive. Retrieved 2007-05-22. 
  2. ^ a b "A Model Of Acting Talent: John Robert Powers". Los Angeles Better Business Bureau. Retrieved 2007-05-22. 
  3. ^ Star Stuck. (May 26, 2004). NBC Team 4 Reports. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 6, 2004. Retrieved 2007-05-23.  or from Retrieved on 2007-05-22.
  4. ^ Betty Ford. FirstLadies Library. Accessed 2011-08-02.
  5. ^ "John Robert Powers Look And Dress For Success Formula As Relevant Today As It Was Fifty Years Ago". Yahoo! News. Apr 15, 2010. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 28 May 2016. 

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