Actress. In a fifty year career, she acted, danced and sang in some 80 films, and had a very successful stage career with many appearance on Broadway. Her early acting demeanor was brassy, wisecracking and happy go lucky, but after leaving Warner Brothers, becoming an independent actress, her roles changed to straight comedy and dramatic. Born in New York City, New York to Vaudeville players, Eddie and Kathryn Blondell, in early infancy she slept in a trunk as her parents known as "Blondell and Company," traveled around the world performing in the United States, Europe and the far East. As an infant, Rose was inserted in the act at times starting at four months of age. She had some formal training while attending the Professional Children's School in New York City. She had a respite from travel as a teenager when her parents settled in Dallas, Texas. At seventeen she won the title "Miss Dallas" in a beauty contest then stepped out on her own by joining a stock company at age 17, making her way the New York City debuting with the Ziegfield Follies streamlining her moniker by dropping "Rose and using her middle name "Joan." Several Broadway shows followed and while playing opposite James Cagney in the production "Penny Arcade" (1929), they were seen by a Warner Brothers talent scout. The movie company took the couple to Hollywood and made a screen version of the play, re-titled "Sinners Holiday." Cagney and Blondell were put under long term contact by the studio. Five more Cagney-Blondell films were made before she was paired with Dick Powell in a series of ten musicals and their professional relationship blossomed into marriage. Joan was busy in the 30's cranking out movie after movie..."The Public Enemy" "Union Depot" "Blondie Johnson" "Havana Widows" (lst of the wisecracking gold digger series w/Glenda Farrell) "The King and the Chorus Girl," to name just a few. Joan left Warner Brothers in 1939, becoming an independent actress, abandoning her early mode of acting and changed to straight comedy and dramatic roles. As a result, her work load was greatly diminished but garnered better roles..."Topper Returns" "Cry Havoc" "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" and "The Blue Veil." However, her greatest success in the post Warner era was on the Broadway stage highlighted by a musical version of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." She was a regular on series television..."The Real McCoys" "Here Comes the Brides" and "Banyon" with many one time episode appearances..."The Virginian" "Wagon Train" and "Twilight Zone." Joan worked until cancer claimed her life in Santa Monica at age 72. Most of her final films were comedies such as..."Waterhole #3" and "Support Your Local Gunfighter" and her last released after her death in 1981, "The Woman Inside." Legacy...She became an author in 1972 with a published novel about vaudeville life, "Center Door Fancy." She is the older sister of actress Gloria Blondell and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to Motion Pictures. Nominations but never a winner...1958 Tony Award nomination for "The Rope Dancers." Nominated Best Supporting Actress, " The Blue Veil" (1951) "Cincinnati Kid" (1965) and "Opening Night" (1977).
Bio by: Donald Greyfield