Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Underdog Series Part 5


Well the polls have spoken and Miss Joan Blondell won in the end against the great character actor Charles Coburn. I eventually will be doing a post on Charles Coburn but today it's all about Joan Blondell. Just recently I became a huge fan of Joan through her 1930's Warner Bros films and was quite captivated to write something about her.

Joan was born on August 30th 1906 in New York City, New York to parents Eddie and Kathryn Blondell. Joan had a younger sister named Gloria, who was also an actress and she also had a brother who was named after his father Eddie. Joan was born into a vaudeville family, her father was a vaudevillian comedian. At the age of 17 years old, Joan joined a stock company where her passion of acting would truly grow. In 1926, Joan(who was born with the name Rose) entered into a Miss Dallas pageant and ended up winning the challenge. During the pageant, Joan went by the name of Rosebud Blondell.

A year after her pageant win, Joan was closing up the library that she worked at, when a police officer came in and raped her. The police has threatened to kill her, so she had kept her rape a secret until years later when she told her grown daughter about it.

In the late 1920's, Joan was on Broadway and as the 20's ended and the 1930's were right around the corner, Joan took a stab at Hollywood, where her career would be until her death in the 1970's.
In the year of 1932, Joan married George Barnes, a man who was 13 years older. Just as her career in Hollywood was hitting it big, her marriage was a completely different story. There have been many reports that George had beaten her during their four year union. During their four year marriage, Joan and George had a child together, a boy named Norman(who was named after Norman Foster). Years later when Joan married actor Dick Powell, George gave up his parental rights, so that Dick could be his adoptive father.

Through the 1930's Joan was in such films as "Night Nurse", "Three on a Match", and "Gold Diggers of 1933". The 1930's was Joan's finest and biggest film roles but as the 1940's were approaching, her film roles were becoming more character actor than lead actress. Although she was no longer on top and now becoming a character actor, her characters were never dull.

In 1936, Joan married Dick Powell a fellow Warner Bros actor. The marriage lasted just 7 years and the couple had a child during the marriage, a daughter named Ellen.

Three years after her divorce from actor Dick Powell, Joan married one last time to film producer and future Mr. Elizabeth Taylor- Michael Todd. The union didn't work as Michael Todd was abusive to Joan and the marriage lasted just two years.

Throughout the 1940's to the 1970's, Joan continued to work both in movies and on television. Her biggest hit during the 1940's was the impeccable hit "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" directed by Elia Kazan.

Joan had lived quite an intriguing and at the age of 72, Joan appeared in the smash hit "Grease" alongside John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. A year after appearing in the film, Joan died from leukemia.

Best Films-

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"
"Gold Diggers of 1933"
"Gold Diggers of 1937"
"The Cincinnati Kid"
"Blonde Crazy"
"Three on a Match"
"Nightmare Alley"



Millie said...

Great post!

Joan is always very fascinating! There is just something about her, which makes you stop and watch!

And she was really very beautiful...in a rather strange but captivating way!

BTW, besides those mentioned, she was also excellent in "Nightmare Alley", I think.

Raquelle said...

Thank you so much for writing about Joan Blondell! She's one of my top favorite actresses and boy was she fiesty.

There's a lot of stuff that you wrote that I didn't know about, so I learned a lot. I also added a link to this on my Twitter. :-)

Kate Gabrielle said...

Wonderful Post! I love that picture of her and Melvyn Douglas it's so cute :)

Have you read her book Center Door Fancy? It's her autobiography but she changed all of the names in the story. If it's true, she really had a tough life. In it she says that Dick Powell lent her money when she had to go to the hospital to have her first son, and then when he divorced her years later, he asked for that money back! (That combined with how he left her for June Allyson makes me think he was quite a heel) Anyway.. it's a good read :)

I love the new Stany banner! And I'm looking forward to the Melvyn Douglas post!

Nicole said...

Thanks Millie, I completely forgot Nightmare Alley but I've added it to her best films.

No problem Raquelle! I'm glad there was some things on there you didn't know. Thanks a lot!

thanks, isn't that pic cute! No I haven't but I'm so looking forward to it. I love reading autobiographies. I'll have to check it out. That's sad, what a jerk he was. He certainly didn't come off that way in his movies.

Thanks, I'm already getting stuff ready for Melvyn Douglas. ;)

emme said...

A very informative post--love the photos!!

It's so nice to "stumble" upon other bloggers who love classic films & actors as much as you do!


Retro Hound said...

They don't make them like that anymore.