Beyond blonde

Joan Blondell first appeared on stage in the winter of 1906-07, aged four months. (She was an infant in a cradle; she had no actual lines to learn.) Fortunately, no one remembered her, so when she decided to strike three years off her age, changing her birth date to 30 August 1909, there was no outcry.

In 1930, she starred on Broadway with James Cagney (!) in the short-lived Penny Arcade, which lasted long enough to be her ticket to Hollywood, where it became the feature film Sinners’ Holiday. This was before the Production Code, so Blondell found herself playing some occasionally salacious roles.

Joan Blondell rejected!

Joan Blondell in 1933

Joan Blondell places a call

Did I say “salacious”? Here’s Joan with Barbara Stanwyck in Night Nurse (1931), in which there’s an awful lot of lingerie on display:

Blondell died on Christmas Day 1979; her last appearance was in the 1981 The Woman Inside, playing the perplexed aunt of a Vietnam vet who’s contemplating sexual-reassignment surgery. Not at all salacious, of course.



  1. ETat »

    26 February 2017 · 6:37 am

    Are you sure of the dates in your last paragraph?

  2. McG »

    26 February 2017 · 8:47 am

    I remember her from “Here Come the Brides” more than her prior career, but ISTR knowing she’d had quite the film career — maybe from my parents mentioning it.

  3. CGHill »

    26 February 2017 · 11:34 am

    Joan’s last two pictures were released posthumously.

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