Her father, known as Eddie Joan Blondell, was a vaudeville comedian who was one of the original Katzenjammer Kids. Her younger sister, Gloria Blondell (1910-1986), was also an actress.
The daughter of travelling showpeople, Blondell had seen much of the world by the time the family settled in Dallas, Texas while she was a teenager. She won a local beauty contest and travelled to New York to become an actress. She soon moved to Hollywood where she was placed under contract by Warner Brothers Studios, making her film debut in 1930. During the 1930s she would embody the depression era gold-digger, and with her huge eyes, blonde hair and wise cracking personality, became a crowd favourite. She appeared in more Warner Brothers films than any other actress, and referred to herself as Warner's workhorse. The popularity of her films made a great contribution to the studio's profitability.
Blondell was paired with James Cagney in such films as The Public Enemy (1931), and was one half of the gold-digging duo (with Glenda Farrell) in nine films. By the end of the decade she had made nearly 50 films. Continuing to work regularly for the rest of her life, Blondell was well received in her later films, and received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role in The Painted Veil (1951). She also appeared in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), Desk Set (1957) and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter (1957). She was widely seen in two films released not long before her death, Grease (1978) and The Champ (1979).
She was married first in 1932 to the cinematographer George S. Barnes (1892-1953); they divorced in 1936. Her second husband, married on September 19, 1936, was the actor, director, and singer Dick Powell; they were divorced on July 14, 1944, and had two children, Ellen Powell and Norman S. Powell (who became an actor, producer, and director). She married as her third husband, in 1947, the producer Michael Todd, who divorced her in 1950.
She died of leukemia in Santa Monica, California and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
Joan Blondell has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to Motion Pictures, at 6309 Hollywood Boulevard.
Joan Blondell Facts
|Birth Name||Rose Joan Blondell|
|Birthday||August 30, 1906|
|Birthplace||New York, New York, USA|
|Date of death||December 25, 1979 (age 73)|
|Height||5' 3" (1m60) How tall is Joan Blondell compared to you?|
|Support Your Local Gunfighter|
|The Opposite Sex|
|Topper / Topper Returns|
|The Cincinnati Kid|
|The Public Enemy|