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Joan Blondell's Geni Profile

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Rose Joan Blondell

Birthplace: New York, NY, USA
Death: Died in Santa Monica, CA, USA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Eddie Joan Blondell, Jr. and Kathryn Blondell
Ex-wife of Dick Powell; George S. Barnes and Mike Todd
Mother of <private> Powell and <private> Powell
Sister of Gloria Blondell and Eddie Blondell, III

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Immediate Family

About Joan Blondell

Rose Joan Blondell was an American actress. Born into a vaudeville family in New York City, Blondell was a sexy, wisecracking, blonde pre-Hays Code staple of Warner Brothers who appeared in more than 100 movies and television productions. She was one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars in 1931.

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, and was married to film producer Albert R. Broccoli.

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. During the Great Depression, Blondell was one of the highest paid individuals in the United States. Her stirring rendition of Remember My Forgotten Man in the Busby Berkeley production of Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), in which she co-starred with Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers, became an anthem for the frustrations of the unemployed and President Herbert Hoover's failed economic policies.

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.

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Joan Blondell's Timeline

August 30, 1906
New York, NY, USA
December 25, 1979
Age 73
Santa Monica, CA, USA