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Joan Blondell

"Glenda Callahan"
Born on August 30, 1906 to Vaudeville stage comic 'Eddie Joan ll', little Joan was on the stage by the tender age of three. For several years, she toured the Vaudeville circuit with her parents and joined a stock company herself, at the age of 17. She made her New York debut with the popular Ziegfeld Follies and appeared in a number of Broadway productions. In 1929, She was starring with James Cagney on Broadway in "Penny Arcade" when Warner Brothers fortuitously decided make the play into a film (retitled "Sinner's Holiday"). Both Cagney and ll resumed their leading roles oncreen, and the film was a success. While Warner Brothers successfully worked to make Cagney one of their biggest stars, Joan never achieved that status. In gangster movies or musicals, her performances were good enough for second leads, but the studio would not consider her for the first lead.

In the 30's her platinum hair, compelling blue eyes, and warm good looks made her perfect for roles as gold-diggers as well as happy-go-lucky friends. Her leading man in ten musicals during these years was Dick Powell (Blondell's second husband), with whom she she fell in love and was wed for a decade.

By 1939, Joan had departed from Warner Brothers to become an independent actress , but by then, the ingenue role was being defined by sultries such as Veronica Lake - an appeal not associated with Joan. Therefore, her work slowed greatly as she found herself in straight comedy and dramatic roles. Meanwhile, she was wed to producer Mike Todd from 1947 until 1950. Todd, incidentally, would later be married to screen legend Elizabeth Taylor, who termed Todd her greatest love following his tragic death in a plane crash in 1958.

In her long career, Joan Blondell appeared in an amazing amount of movie and television roles. Sadly, she passed away from leukemia on Christmas of 1979 in Santa Monica, California.


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