Legendary actress, Joan Blondell, was born Rose Joan Blondell on Aug 30, 1906 in New York City, NY. Blondell appeared in over 150 films and tv shows during the course of her 50+ year screen career. Her best known films include The Public Enemy (1931), Blonde Crazy (1931), Union Depot (1932), Footlight Parade (1933), Topper Returns (1941), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), The Blue Veil (Academy Award nomination, 1951), Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957), Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971) and Grease (1978). On television, she made guest appearances on popular shows including The Lucy Show, My Three Sons and The Twilight Zone, and she co-starred on the ABC western series Here Come the Brides opposite singer Bobby Sherman and actor/singer David Soul. Blondell died at the age of 73 on Dec 25, 1979 in Santa Monica, CA from leukemia and was laid to rest in Forest Lawn (Glendale) Cemetery in Glendale, CA.
In the glittering prosperity that preceded the Wall Street crash of 1929, Joan Blondell almost despaired of a permanent career on stage or screen and took such unlikely jobs as that of clerk in a New York bookshop. Less than two years later, as the world depression deepened, she appeared in a long string of Hollywood films, and freely admitted she was "Warner Brothers' work horse."
Christened Rosebud Blondell by a somewhat sentimental mother, she came from a family of vaudevillians and appeared on stage with them in her early years. Bit parts in Broadway plays were few and far between and it wasn't until she landed a lead role in Penny Arcade (1930) that a Warner scout noticed her and offered her a Hollywood tryout, along with another youngster in the same cast, a stocky little actor named James Cagney. Her feature film debut was in 1930 in Office Wife and, while she did little but look saucy and waggle her 'rear end' attractively as she crossed the screen, it proved enough to elicit whistles and other signs of approval from audiences and to convince Warners that they had something pretty good on their hands.
While she never became a huge Hollywood star, Blondell remained among moviedom's most popular featured players for a good 12 years. A complete professional, she almost always played loyal, breezy, fast-talking and slightly cynical blondes in films that ranged from The Public Enemy (1931) to Cry Havoc (1943). It was said that she never once gave a bad performance.
After marriages to three husbands -- cinematographer/photographer George Scott Barnes (1933-1936, one child), singer/actor Dick Powell (1936-1944, one child) and producer/entrepreneur Mike Todd (1947-1950) -- she found herself penniless, her looks gone and her services no longer in demand. With great courage she fought back via television, off-Broadway stage productions and small parts in movies like The Cincinnati Kid (as a card-dealer, 1965) and The Phynx (1970).
Her first novel, "Center Door Fancy" which was highly praised, was published in 1973.(Source: available at Amazon The Movie Makers [please note: the book has some data errors which have been corrected in this article by CMH]).
BLONDELL / CAGNEY FILMS:
Joan Blondell and James Cagney starred in seven films together: Sinners' Holiday (1930), Other Men's Women (1931), The Public Enemy (1931), Blonde Crazy (1931), The Crowd Roars (1932), Footlight Parade (1933), and He was Her Man (1934).
BLONDELL / FARRELL FILMS:
Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell starred in eight films together: Three on a Match (1932), Havana Widows (1933), I've Got Your Number (1934), Kansas City Princess (1934), Traveling Saleslady (1935), We're in the Money (1935), Miss Pacific Fleet (1935), and Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936). .
HONORS and AWARDS:.
Although Blondell was nominated for one Oscar, she never won a competitive Academy Award.
|1951||Best Supporting Actress||The Blue Veil (1951)||Annie Rawlins||Nominated|
She was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. Joan Blondell's handprints and footprints were 'set in stone' at Grauman's Chinese Theater during imprint ceremony #34 on Feb 10, 1937.
CELEBRATES CHRISTMAS EVE, 1947on Dec 20, 2019 From Caftan Woman
1906 - 1979 is the TCM Star of the Month this December. It is safe to assume that rights issues have stood in the way of the network programming two of Joan's most acclaimed performances in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1945 and Nightmare Alley, 1947. However, I can't imag... Read full article
You're Invited! Presenting STYLE OF SIN: JOAN CRAWFORD AND 12/8 at Egyptian Theatreon Nov 19, 2019 From GlamAmor
Sunday, December 8 is the final event in my 6-part Pre-Code speaker/screening series at the American Cinematheque! THE STYLE OF SIN: JOAN CRAWFORD AND Pre-Code Film with Kimberly Truhler Sunday, December 8 Egyptian Theatre Hollywood, CA Talk starts at 1:00 pm followed by s... Read full article
On Blu-ray: James Cagney and in Busby Berkeley's Footlight Parade (1933)By KC on Sep 12, 2019 From Classic Movies
All film fans have their cinematic version of comfort food and mine is the musicals of choreographer Busby Berkeley. These busy, bubbly productions full of wit, beauty and excitement are pleasant to have on in the background, but deserving of the most devoted attention. I’m especially fond of ... Read full article
On DVD: and Glenda Farrell in Kansas City Princess (1934)By KC on Jun 19, 2018 From Classic Movies
Throughout decades of movie fandom I’ve seen astonishing sights and transcendent works of art, and yet, if you asked me what I want to see at any given moment, I would probably ask to watch Glenda Farrell and doing stuff. Whatever production they are in, they never let you down, ... Read full article
BROADWAY TO HOLLYWOOD starring Shirley Booth, and special guest star Katharine HepburnBy Caftan Woman on Jul 25, 2016 From Caftan Woman
Two actresses born on August 30th share a career and two roles. Both were born in New York City and started Broadway careers in the 1920s. One was whisked away to Hollywood in 1930 and appeared in over 90 films. The other only made a handful of movies, the first one in 1952. Shirley Booth ... Read full article
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Anne Vincent Ives: What's new in the world of slander?
Helen 'Duckie' Childers: Enumerable things. Enumerable.
Alice Hughes: People don't marry crooners. They only divorce them.
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