John Robert Powers, 80, who founded the famous modeling agency and branched into a chain of charm schools , died Tuesday in Los Angeles. Alumnae of his schools included such notables as former First Ladies Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Betty Ford and Princess Grace (Kelly) of Monaco.
Many of his models went on to be become noted Hollywood actresses - Joan Bennett, Dolores Costello, Norma Shearer, Jennifer Jones, Raquel Welch, Ava Gardner, Barbara Stanwyck, Lucille Ball, Lee Remick and Ann Margaret.
Mr. Powers, who at first aspired to an acting career after briefly attending Lafayette College in his native Eaton, Pa. started his agency in New York in the early 1920s.
He had answered a newspaper advertisement by a commercial photographer for a model and realized that photographers could get models only through such advertising. Usually the models were, as he was then, unemployed would-be actors and actresses.
Mr. Powers thought there should be an organization to bring photographers together with models, and established his agency.
Contending that "there are no ugly women," he came up with the idea of teaching women "how to have poise, beauty and personality."
He took personal pride in the "social acceptability" of his modelss, who became known as the Powers Girls,, and attached importance to their "looking and acting like ladies."
The late Elas Maxwell once said that she could give one of her famous parties without debutantes but not without at least a half-dozen Powers Girls.
His models appeared on magazine covers and sold American consumers "pratically everything they owned or enjoyed: from automobiles to Zanzibar cruises," he once wrote.
Mr. Powers wrote a book, "The Powers Girls," which was a detailed guide to the modeling field. Later a mov, "The Powers Girl," was made.
In the meantime, his charm schools had spread across the nation and abroad, and a cosmetic business was established. Together they became a billion dollar industry.
While the Powers Agency concentrated on women, men also were called upon to fill assignments. Some of the more noted early alumni included Henry Fonda, Tyrone Power and Frederic March.
Mr. Powers is survived by a daughter, Patricia Powers Rainey, of North Hollywood; a sister, who lives in Pennsylvania, and a granddaughter.