American actor and comedian, not to be confused with the more popular actor, singer, and later director Dick Powell. After acting on stage and in light opera, he settled in Hollywood and began acting in motion pictures in the early 1930s -- a film career which would only last six years before his untimely death. He died on New Year's Day, 1937, from a fractured skull after his automobile collided with a parked vehicle.
Many online sources and databases incorrectly claim that he was born William Richard Powell on 31 December 1896 in Peoria, Illinois, USA. This info, in fact, applies to a completely different person, a newspaper man, who in fact died on 12 January 1968 -- 31 years and 11 days after "our" Richard Powell died.