Joan Blondell an Old Hollywood actress best known for her roles in Golden Age classics such as 1931’s The Public Enemy. That film came relatively early on during the actress’s career, and she continued working for five decades afterward. Some might think that the actress finding consistent work over the course of her career was a good thing. But she couldn’t have quit if she wanted to! Join Facts Verse as we explore the sad reason Joan Blondell forced to work until her death.
Joan Blondell Was Born Into Show Business
Joan Blondell was born on August 30, 1906. The place of her birth was New York City, and her parents were stars on the city’s vaudeville circuit. Joan’s parents’ proclivity for vaudeville led to Joan becoming a fellow performer at an incredibly young age. Joan began accompanying her parents on the stage at the age of only 3. By the time that she came of age, Joan ready to branch away from the vaudeville roots that had instilled in her by her parents. And try her hand at some more serious performing. She joined a stock company at the age of only 17. And went on to make her debut performing with the Ziegfeld Follies. The actress then went on to start in a variety of notable Broadway productions before eventually given the chance to head out to Hollywood.
Joan’s chance to come out to Hollywood came after she starred alongside fellow burgeoning star James Cagney on the stage in a Broadway production entitled Penny Arcade. The play proved to a major success, and it subsequently set to adapted into a feature film by Warner Bros. Pictures. Warner Bros. Pictures decided that both Joan and James should kept on the project to reprise their roles from the stage. Which proved a magnificent entrance for both stars into Hollywood. The Hollywood adaptation of Penny Arcade renamed Sinner’s Holiday, and it made modest stars of both of it’s leads.
Joan and James would go on to appear together in a variety of other pictures, including the much more iconic 1931 film The Public Enemy. To this day, The Public Enemy remains one of the most notable works of either performer. Another notable picture that Joan and James appeared alongside each other in Blonde Crazy. Which released to theaters the very same year.
After paired alongside James Cagney in several films, Joan Blondell paired alongside Dick Powell in several films. The two made a popular pair, and appeared in a variety of musicals. These musicals stood in contrast to the more serious pictures that Joan had worked on with James Cagney. In 1936, Joan and Dick married. Joan had already married previously, with the actress having married to cinematographer George Barnes from 1933 until just before her wedding to Dick. Joan married a total of three times throughout her life. And her divorces ended up costing her dearly by the end of it. Join Facts Verse as we explore the sad reason Joan Blondell forced to work until her death.
The Two High Points of Joan Blondell’s Career
The two high points of Joan Blondell’s career were her streaks with James Cagney and Dick Powell. Following these two episodes of the actress’s life, she never found the same consistent amount of success. However, she did manage to work consistently given the fact that she adapted to take on smaller roles. In the early 1950s, Joan had a notable late-career success thanks to her turn in the film The Blue Veil. Joan’s performance in the film led to the actress getting an Academy Award nomination. Around the same time, Joan received a great deal of acclaim thanks to her work on the stage in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Other notable late-career roles for Joan included her turns as a main cast member on the series Here Comes the Brides during the late 1960s. As well as her minor role in the musical film Grease.
Throughout Joan’s career, she got to work with such major stars as Bette Davis, Ginger Rogers, William Powell, Jon Voight, and John Travolta. The list of directors that the actress got to work with over the course of her career is almost equally impressive. As it includes the likes of such luminaries as John Cassavetes and Busby Berkeley. Sadly, Joan never ended up winning many awards over the course of her life, though she nominated for several. In addition to the aforementioned Academy Award nomination for her performance in The Blue Veil. Joan also nominated for a pair of Golden Globe Awards and a Tony Award.
Joan’s Golden Globe nominations came for her turns in the films The Cincinnati Kid and Opening Night. The Cincinnati Kid saw Joan Blondell working with Norman Jewison, while Opening Night saw her working with John Cassavetes. Both films came relatively late in Joan’s career. But the slight awards recognition didn’t do much to make Joan a bigger actress in the years that followed.
Although Joan Blondell was lacking big-name recognition towards the end of her career. It can’t be denied that she was a respectable character actress that found consistent work. Sadly, Joan would never given the opportunity to retire. Instead, she forced to work herself until death to pay off her many debts. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way! Join Facts Verse as we explore the sad reason Joan Blondell forced to work until her death.
Joan’s Divorces Ended Up Costing Her Too Much
Joan Blondell married and divorced a total of three times throughout her life. And these divorces ended up costing the actress a great deal. Joan’s first marriage was to the aforementioned cinematographer by the name of George Barnes. The two had met while working together on a picture entitled The Greeks Had a Word for Them. It seems that Joan had a proclivity for meeting men on the job. And this ended up being the actress’s undoing. As we’ve already established, Joan’s marriage to George Barnes didn’t last for very long. By the time all said and done, the two married for only around three years. Joan then went on to marry Dick Powell after working with him in a few features. Joan and Dick married for a little bit longer than Joan and George were. With Joan and Dick’s marriage lasting from 1936 until 1944.
After marrying and divorcing two show-business types, one might assume that Joan would’ve been smart enough to look for future romances outside of the Hollywood sphere. However, she ended up falling for the charms of a producer by the name of Michael Todd and choosing him to be her third husband. Sadly, Joan’s marriage to Michael Todd ended up being the worst of them all! Join Facts Verse as we explore the sad reason Joan Blondell was forced to work until her death.
Joan’s marriage to Michael Todd only lasted for a small handful of years, with the pair marrying in 1947 and divorcing in 1950. Throughout that relatively short period of time, Michael was said to be physically abusive to Joan. Following Joan and Michael’s divorce, Michael notably went on to marry Elizabeth Taylor. Joan chose to never remarry after her messy divorce from her third husband, and this was perhaps a wise decision. Still, Joan felt the repercussions of her three divorces for the remainder of her life. The divorces were said to have put her in debt that her limited acting gigs couldn’t manage to save her from.
Joan was struggling financially for decades leading up to her death, and it’s arguable that having to work so hard into her twilight years contributed to the actress passing away before her time. Joan passed away in 1979, at the age of 73. This came only a year after the movie Grease was released, which contained one of Joan’s last big roles. Join Facts Verse as we explore the sad reason Joan Blondell was forced to work until her death.
Joan Was Good Friends with Judy Garland and Clark Gable
She worked with many notable celebrity figures throughout her career, and some of the closest relationships she formed during this time were with Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, and Judy Garland. Joan was perhaps closest of all to Judy Garland, as the pair shared a special connection. That connection stemmed from the fact that both Joan and Judy had a background working in vaudeville as children. Of course, those who know anything about Judy Garland will know that the actress’s childhood years weren’t all that great. Judy retained a good deal of trauma from her childhood years working in the entertainment industry, and Joan’s shared background helped her relate to Judy and calm her down. It has been said that Judy Garland would call up Joan Blondell whenever the prior figure was having a meltdown about her past.
Another person that Joan Blondell formed a close and personal relationship with during her Hollywood career was legendary actor Clark Gable. It has even been said that Clark became so taken with Joan that he ended up proposing to her, though Joan turned the Hollywood legend down. Joan and Clark appeared together in the film Adventure, which was released in 1945. The film was notable for featuring Clark’s first big role after his return from World War II. Though Joan appeared in the picture, she was not the female lead. Instead, that role went to Greer Garson.
Joan also got the chance to work with such big names as Humphrey Bogart and Bing Crosby, though the late actress claimed that she found both of these figures to not be very friendly. Whereas many of Joan’s big-name friends were given the opportunity to retire and relax during their later years, Joan had to work herself to death due to her debts. Besides Grease, some of Joan’s final pictures included The Woman Inside and The Glove.
Though some might think that Joan Blondell would’ve been grateful for the opportunity to work consistently up until her death, the actress couldn’t have quit if she wanted to! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Joan Blondell was a close friend of Judy Garland, and that Judy would call Joan whenever she was having a mental breakdown? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!