She was a workhorse at Warner Bros. in the 1930s — making 10 films in 1932 alone — who went on to B-minus (in terms of stardom not talent) status for most of a 50-year career in movies and television.
Joan Blondell was sexy, naughty but always good-spirited onscreen, and, one suspects, offscreen as well. She costarred in James Cagney’s earliest movies in the 1930’s as well as the later efforts of Steve McQueen (1965’s The Cincinnati Kid) and John Tavolta (1978’s Grease). That’s some career arc!
So let’s see how you made out on our Monday Joan Blondell Quiz. She’s certainly worth knowing more about. As usual, to review the questions just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: c) James Cagney. He and Joan costarred on Broadway in 1929’s Penny Arcade which the actor wrote was for me a sterling success because it became my clear path to the high road — a 31-year movie career. This was the beginning of Hollywood for me, and for Joan too. Cagney referred to Joan as “my new old pal.” Blondell and Cagney made six movies together, and he described her as the only woman he loved other than his wife.
2) Answer: a) From 1930 to 1939, Blondell made 53 movies.
3) Answer: d) Joan made only 13 movies in the Forties, a real career slowdown.
4) Answer: 1947’s Nightmare Alley, starring Tyrone Power who plays a down-at-the-heels carnival hustler at the end of his rope. Joan is on hand as a veteran mentalist with whom Power’s character has had an affair. This is a grim thriller — unique among noirs, writes critic Eddie Muller. Joan won plaudits for her gritty yet sympathetic performance.
5) Answer: c) Both Blondell and June Allyson shared the same husband — Dick Powell. Joan was first to the altar; the marriage lasted from 1936 to 1944 (there’s the happy couple pictured above). A year after the divorce Powell married Allyson, a union that lasted until his death in 1963.
6) Answer: a) Joan and Elizabeth Taylor also shared a husband — producer Michael Todd. He and Blondell were married for three years beginning in 1947. It didn’t work out well.
7) Answer: c) Dick Powell and Blondell were teamed in 10 musicals together. No wonder they finally got married.
8) Answer: d) Jayne Mansfield.
9) Answer: 1951’s The Blue Veil, a melodrama starring Jane Wyman as a war widow who, after her child dies, becomes a devoted nanny-nursemaid to other familys’ children. Joan plays a fading musical actress whose 12-year-old daughter becomes a bit too close to Wyman ‘s character. (Trivia note: Natalie Wood played Joan’s daughter.)
10) Answer: Blondell’s screen image of the blowsy blond character seemed to grow out of fashion and segued to a different type of blond, represented by a) Veronica Lake.