Edit
Joan Blondell Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (25) | Personal Quotes (9) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 30 August 1906New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 25 December 1979Santa Monica, California, USA  (leukemia)
Birth NameRose Joan Blondell
Height 5' 2" (1.57 m)

Mini Bio (1)

With blonde hair, big blue eyes and a big smile, Joan was usually cast as the wisecracking working girl who was the lead's best friend. Born into vaudeville to a comic named Eddie, Joan was on the stage when she was three years old. For years, she toured the circuit with her parents and joined a stock company when she was 17. She made her New York debut with the Ziegfeld Follies and appeared in several Broadway productions. She was starring with James Cagney on Broadway in "Penny Arcade" (1929) when Warner Brothers decided to film the play as Sinners' Holiday (1930). Both Cagney and Joan were given the leads, and the film was a success. She would be teamed with Cagney again in The Public Enemy (1931) and Blonde Crazy (1931) among others. In The Office Wife (1930), she stole the scene when she was dressing for work. While Warner Brothers made Cagney a star, Joan never rose to that level. In gangster movies or musicals, her performances were good enough for second leads, but not first lead. In the 1930s, she made a career playing gold-diggers and happy-go-lucky girlfriends. She would be paired with Dick Powell in ten musicals during these years, and they were married for ten years. By 1939, Joan had left Warner Brothers to become an independent actress, but by then, the blonde role was being defined by actresses like Veronica Lake. Her work slowed greatly as she went into straight comedy or dramatic roles. Three of her better roles were in Topper Returns (1941), Cry 'Havoc' (1943), and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945). By the 50s, Joan would garner an Academy Award nomination for The Blue Veil (1951), but her biggest career successes would be on the stage, including a musical version of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." In 1957, Joan would again appear on the screen as a drunk in Lizzie (1957) and as mature companion to Jayne Mansfield in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957). While she would appear in a number of television shows during the 50s and 60s, she had the regular role of Winifred on The Real McCoys (1957) during the 1963 season. Her role in the drama The Cincinnati Kid (1965) was well received, but most of her remaining films would be comedies such as Waterhole #3 (1967) and Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971). Still in demand for TV, she was cast as Lottie on Here Come the Brides (1968) and as Peggy on Banyon (1971).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Spouse (3)

Michael Todd (4 July 1947 - 8 June 1950) (divorced)
Dick Powell (19 September 1936 - 14 July 1944) (divorced) (1 child)
George Barnes (4 January 1933 - 4 September 1936) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (25)

Older sister of actress Gloria Blondell.
Mother of Norman S. Powell from her marriage to George Barnes. He was adopted by Dick Powell in February 1938. Mother of Ellen Powell from her marriage to Dick Powell.
Made six movies with James Cagney at Warner Brothers - more than any other individual actress. Cagney said that the only woman he loved other than his wife was Blondell.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1958 Tony Award as best supporting or featured actress (dramatic) for "The Rope Dancers".
According to the July 24, 1944, issue of Time magazine, Blondell divorced Dick Powell on the grounds of cruelty alleging that "when she objected to the incessant coming and going of guests, Powell crooned: 'If you don't like it, you can get the hell out.'".
Attended the Professional Children's School in New York City.
On the British sitcom Dad's Army (1968), Private Pike has a crush on her and has dozens of pictures of her on his bedroom walls.
Her marriage to theatrical impresario Michael Todd was an emotional and financial disaster. Todd was a heavy spender who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars gambling (high-stakes bridge was one of his weaknesses) and went through a controversial bankruptcy during their marriage. While continuing to live the high-life on a huge estate in New York's Westchester County, the irresponsible Todd ran through Blondell's savings.
She playfully called her friend Bette Davis's four ex-husbands "The Four Skins" since they were all gentiles.
June Allyson was the stepmother of her daughter Ellen Powell after Allyson married Blondell's ex-husband Dick Powell.
Profiled in "Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames" by Ray Hagen and Laura Wagner (McFarland, 2004).
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6311 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
Following her death, she was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
Her daughter Ellen Powell had a long battle with cocaine that she overcame in 1984.
Had three grandchildren: Joan Ellen Powell, Scott Powell and Stephanie Powell.
Her grandson Scott Powell has a stepson, David, and two grandchildren, Zander and Dakota.
Her granddaughter Stephanie Powell is married to Sean Murphy, owner of a surf travel company.
In 1927, while closing the library she worked at, she was raped by a police officer. He told her he would kill her if she told anyone. She kept her silence for decades, until finally telling her grown daughter. She went public with this in her memoirs.
Her son Norman Scott was named after Claudette Colbert's first husband, actor-director Norman Foster.
Her son Norman Scott was born in the breech position, with the cord wrapped around his neck. Her labor was complicated, because of a fractured coccyx, and lasted twenty hours.
Like her second husband Dick Powell and acquaintance June Allyson, she was a lifelong staunch supporter of the Republican party.
Felt that her best performance was as Aunt Sissy in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945).
Aunt of makeup artist Kathryn Blondell.
Became pregnant by 1st husband George Barnes out of wedlock in the summer of 1932 and then again in the summer of 1933. On both occasions she had abortions.
Is portrayed by Kathy Bates in Feud (2017).

Personal Quotes (9)

There's a very fine line between underacting and not acting at all. And not acting is what a lot of actors are guilty of. It amazes me how some of these little numbers with dreamy looks and a dead pan are getting away wit it. I'd hate to see them on stage with a dog act.
In the 20s, you were a face. And that was enough. In the '30s, you also had to be a voice. And your voice had to match your face, if you can imagine that. Jimmy Cagney and Eddie Robinson had voices that were as important as the characters they played. You knew what you were getting even before you paid for the ticket.
[on Al Jolson] The screen didn't give him enough space to project in. I remember as a kid seeing him on stage and I think to this day there have been two great performers in the world: one is Jolson and the other is Judy Garland. They had some kind of magic in front of people that no one could surpass -- they were sheer, magnificent talent beyond belief.
[on Leslie Howard] Leslie Howard was a darling flirt. He'd be caressing your eyes and have his hand on someone else's leg at the same time. He was adorable. He was a little devil and just wanted his hands on every woman around. He just loved ladies.
[on Jean Harlow] You know, she never wore underclothes and she was walking past the guys on The Public Enemy (1931) one day and James Cagney said, "How do you hold those things up?" and she said, "I ice them." And she was very serious.
[on director Edmund Goulding] He did something that drove actors crazy. He'd get out there and act out everybody's role for them -- even the women! And we were supposed to imitate him. We wanted to give our own interpretations.
[on Clark Gable] It was the joy of your life to know Clark Gable. He was everything good you could think of. He had delicious humor, he had great compassion, he was always a fine old teddy bear. In no way was he conscious of his good looks, as were most other men in pictures at that time. Clark was very unactorly.
[on Bette Davis] When Bette's good, she's real good. When she's bad, she's awful. But at least, she's not afraid to bat an eyelash.
[on her husbands] [George] Barnes provided my first real home, [Dick] Powell was my security man, and [Michael] Todd was my passion. But I loved them all.

Salary (1)

Sinners' Holiday (1930) $250 /week (three-week shoot)

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page