Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Joan Blondell.

Joan Blondell (August 30, 1906 – December 25, 1979). Her father, known as Eddie Joan Blondell, Jr., a vaudeville comedian and one of the original Katzenjammer Kids. Her younger sister, Gloria, was also an actress, who was briefly married to film producer, Albert R. Broccoli (the future producer of the James Bond film series).

She made her first appearance on stage at the age of four months when she was carried on stage in a cradle as the daughter of Peggy Astaire in, The Greatest Love.

Around 1927, she joined a stock company to become an actress, and performed on Broadway.

In 1930, she starred with James Cagney in, Penny Arcade, which only lasted three weeks. Fortunately, Al Jolson saw the play and bought the rights. He then sold the rights to Warner Brothers, with the promise that Blondell and Cagney, be cast in the film version. Placed under contract by Warners, she moved to Hollywood.

Blondell was paired with James Cagney in the films:

Sinners' Holiday (1930). Pre-code. This murder story takes place during prohibition, in a penny arcade. Cast: Cagney in his very first performance in 1930. Also, a big role for Joan Blondell, who had already made four films, but would go on to make eight more films with Cagney.

The Public Enemy (1931). Maybe, one of the first mob films that showed not only the results of one persons actions on himself, but.. also his family. A ending that you will not soon forget.

Blondell, was one half of a gold-digging duo with Glenda Farrell in nine films. Her performance of "Remember My Forgotten Man" in the Busby Berkeley production of, Gold Diggers (1933), in which she co-starred with Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler.(Even though she was cast in many of the classic Warners musicals, she was not a singer, and in the Forgotten Man number, she mostly talked and acted her way through the song.)

The Perfect Specimen(1937). Was Errol Flynn's first comedy. Errol Flynn's character, was raised by his grandmother May Robson, who gave him the best education, but.. did not not allow him to have many friends. The Grandmother, even has a wife all picked out for him.

When Flynn, borrows a car for a joy ride, his disappearance causes a panic. The Grandmother, begins a nationwide manhunt for him. Meanwhile, he and Blondell, (who was visiting her brother who worked at the estate)are out having a wonderful time on the road... Flynn and Blondell, never performed again together.

Adventure(1945). Drama. Clark Gable, plays a sea captain, who falls madly in love with Greer Garson's character, who forever changes his believes on finding true love. He searches for the meaning of life through the danger of the open sea. Joan Blondel, plays a, "tomato".

The Blue Veil (1951). If you love a tear-jerker this chick flick is for you. The ending wraps everything up into a beautiful little package.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945). The Nolan family, finds joy in life even though they are very poor and Papa drinks to much. Blondell plays Aunt Sissy, who has a scandalous reputation, but is always there for her sister, just when she needs her most, and makes her see things through more understanding eyes.

Nightmare Alley (1947). Stanton Carlisle, is a carney who works with mentalist Zeena and her alcoholic husband Pete, who works the crowd as Zeena pretends to read their minds. Stan, has dreams of a night club act.

The Opposite Sex (1956). New York theater producer Steven Hilliard and his wife, former popular radio singer Kay Hilliard, are getting divorced, after Kay finds out about a affair, that he had with Crystal Allen, a gold digging chorus girl in one of his shows. Kay's best friend, Amanda, believes Kay, is playing right into Crystal plans, she also does not believe, that Steven really loves Crystal. When Kay learns that her husbands new marriage is not going well, she decides to get back with her husband with a little twist of revenge for..

Desk Set (1957). The story begins when, Hepburn feels her job, and those of the other workers, are threatened by Tracy and his computer. Joan Blondell, plays the right-hand woman. This is a intelligent Romantic movie.

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?(1957). A comedy film starring Jayne Mansfield and Tony Randall, with Betsy Drake, Joan Blondell, John Williams, Henry Jones, Lili Gentle, Mickey Hargitay, and a cameo by Groucho Marx. The film is a satire on the Hollywood hype from television ads. The film also shows how television hurt movie attendance in the 1950s.

The Cincinnati Kid (1965). A story about a young womanizer stud poker player, who travels from one game to the next. Who, eventually is up against the legendary champion Lancey Howard, in a high-stakes poker game.

Opening Night (1977). Is a powerful film, which starts out when a young woman gets killed, trying to meet her favorite actress, Myrtle Gordon. Myrtle Gordon, begins to feel responsible for her death and goes into a deep depression that begins to interfere with her work as an actress.

Blondell, performed in two films released not long before her death, Grease (1978) and the remake of, The Champ (1979).

Personal Quote:
"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"

Please click here to learn more about Joan Blondell.
Please click here to learn more about Joan Blondell Musicals.


  1. Wonderful look at some of the best from Joan Blondell's amazing career. I wish you had been in charge of the Summer Under the Stars salute.

    I'm looking forward to my first viewing of "Sinner's Holiday". I've long been curious, but haven't had the opportunity.

    Three faves I would have liked to have seen on TCM's line-up: Goodbye Again, I've Got Your Number, The Fabulous Ferguson Case. Next time!

  2. Joan is finally being appreciated for talent and professionalism that matched her considerable charm and sex appeal. What a trouper!

  3. This is one of your best articles, Dawn! I have always loved Joan. You discussed some of her best performances, the musical number "The Forgotten Man", Aunt Sissie in Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Zeena in Nightmare Alley (I did a review on that a while back, lauding her performance). Joan was actually wonderful in everything she did. I mentioned to Monty on his blog that George C. Scott thought Joan was the most beautiful woman in film. I am so excited about the musicals contest you and Monty are doing! Love 'em!

  4. Caftan Woman, Thank you.. I bet it was a fun job to pick the the movies for the, "Summer Under the Stars" salute.

    I also.. watched and enjoyed the film, Sinners' Holiday, on TCM. and hope to write up a review soon.

    I will keep my eye out for the films:
    Goodbye Again, I've Got Your Number, The Fabulous Ferguson Case. I'm a huge Joan Blondell fan, so I know that they are going to be great.

    VP81955, I was thrilled to see Joan Blondell, spotlighted in, "Summer Under the Stars". What an awesome day on TCM!

    ClassicBecky, Thank you. I agree.. Joan Blondell, was wonderful in everything she did. She reminds me a little of my mother.

    Monty, the pro, is hosting the musical contest. I'm very excited that he decided to host it on N and CF musical page. Unfortunatly, I have to much on my plate right now..


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