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Joan Blondell

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Blonde hair, big blue eyes and a big smile, Joan was the wisecracking working girl who was usually the best friend of the lead. Born into Vaudeville to a stage comic named 'Eddie Joan Blondell' 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' (qv) on Broadway in "Penny Arcade (1929)" when Warner Brothers decided to film the play as _Sinner's Holiday (1930)_ (qv). Both Cagney and Joan were given the leads and the film was a success. She would be teamed with Cagney again in such films as _Public Enemy, The (1931)_ (qv) and 'Blonde Crazy (1931)'. In _Office Wife, The (1930)_ (qv), she would steal the scenes when she is dressing for work. While Warner Brothers made Cagney became a star, Joan never rose to that level. In gangster movies or musicals, her performances were good enough for second leads, but the studio would not consider her for the first lead. In the 30's she made a career playing gold-diggers and happy go lucky girl friends. She would be paired with 'Dick Powell' (qv) in ten musicals during these years and they were married for 10 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, and that role was not Joan. Therefore, 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, A (1945)_ (qv) (1945)'. By the fifties, Joan would garner an Academy Award Nomination for 'The _Blue Veil, The (1951)_ (qv) (1951)', but her career would be on the stage which included a musical version of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". In 1957, Joan would again appear on the screen as a drunk in Lizzie and as mature companion to Jayne Mansfield in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?. While she would appear in a number of Television shows during the 50's and 60's, she would have the role of Winifred on "The Real McCoys (1963)". Her role in the drama _Cincinnati Kid, The (1965)_ (qv) 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 Television Series, she would be cast as Lottie on "Here Comes the Brides", 1968-70 and as Peggy on "Banyon".
Joan Blondell full bio »


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