Mary Ellen “Mala” Powers was an American film actress.
She was born in San Francisco, California. In 1940 her family moved to Los Angeles. Her father was an executive with United Press. In the summer of her relocation, Powers attended the Max Reinhardt Junior Workshop where she enjoyed her first role in a play before a live audience. She continued with her drama lessons, and a year later she auditioned and won a part in the 1942 Dead End Kids film Tough as They Come.
At the age of 16 she began working in radio drama, before becoming a film actress in 1950. Her first roles were in Outrage and Edge of Doom in 1950. That same year, Stanley Kramer signed Powers to star opposite Jose Ferrer in what may be her most remembered role as Roxane in Cyrano de Bergerac. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her part in this movie.
While on a USO entertainment tour in Korea in 1951, she acquired a blood disease and almost died. She was treated with chloromycetin, but a severe allergic reaction resulted in the loss of much of her bone marrow. Powers barely survived, and her recovery took nearly nine months.