Joan Blondell ~ The Wisecracking Blonde

Joan Blondell

Joan Blondell was a beautiful and talented actress whose career spanned over forty years

She was born Rose Joan Blondell on August 30, 1906, in New York city. Her parents were vaudeville entertainers and she began performing with them when she was just a toddler. Their troupe was known as the Bouncing Blondells. The family lived in Australia, Hawaii, Texas, and California. After graduating from Santa Monica high school she briefly attended North Texas State Teacher's College. In 1926 she won fourth place in the Miss America pageant. The following year Joan was working at a library when she was brutally raped by a policeman. Soon after she decided to move to New York City to work as a fashion model. The lovely blonde starred in the 1930 Broadway show Penny Arcade with James Cagney. Although the play flopped Warner Brothers cast her and Cagney in the movie version, which was retitled Sinner's Holiday. She was chosen to be a Wampas Baby Star and offered a long term contract at Warner Brothers. The studio wanted her to change her name to Inez Holmes but she refused. Joan costarred in a string of hit films including The Public Enemy, Three On A Match and Kansas City Princess with her frequent costar Glenda Farrell. The wisecracking characters she played made her popular with audiences during the depression. During the early years of her career she had several abortions. She married cinematographer George Barnes in January of 1933. Their son Norman was born the following year. After divorcing George in 1936 she married actor Dick Powell.

Joan BlondellJoan Blondell

Joan Blondell

They had a daughter, Pamela Ellen, and Dick adopted Norman. The couple worked together in the musicals Dames and Gold Diggers of 1937. By the early 1940s she had left Warner Brothers and was mostly playing supporting roles. Her marriage to Dick ended in 1944 after he fell in love with actress June Allyson. Joan married producer Mike Todd in 1947. Unfortunately he had a gambling problem and became abusive. One time he tried to push her out of a window. In 1950 she filed for bankruptcy and divorced Mike. She received an Academy Award nomination in 1952 for her performance in the drama The Blue Veil. Now in her forties she was having trouble getting movie roles so she returned to the stage in a production of The Rope Dancers. During the 1960s she became a familiar face on television and made guest appearances on shows like The Twilight Zone and The Lucy Show. Joan also starred in the series Here Comes The Bride and was nominated for two Emmy awards. She wrote a novel called Center Door Fancy which was loosely based on her own experiences in Hollywood. One of her final roles was playing a waitress in the hit 1978 musical Grease. On December 25, 1979 she died from leukemia. Joan was cremated and buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Her son, Norman Powell, has become a successful producer.


Joan Blondell

Joan BlondellJoan Blondell