Joan Blondell: “I Was the Fizz on the Soda”

In the twilight of her career, sassy, brassy Joan Blondell reflected on her star image by noting, “I was the fizz on the soda.” Considering her talent for snappy patter, her ability to get the most out of one-liners, and her full, robust figure, the description is apt. Like Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, and Ginger Rogers, Blondell enjoyed a long career stretching over several decades, and yet she lacks the critical and popular recognition of her peers. Perhaps this slight is the result of  playing the second female lead most often, alongside Rogers, Una Merkel, Barbara Stanwyck, or Ruby Keeler, who tended to get higher billing than she did. Only in hour-long programmers or B-films did Blondell get to play the lead. I have always enjoyed her wise-cracking characters, but it wasn’t until recently, while doing some research on Blondell, that I realized what a terrific movie star she really was.

Like many successful stars and entertainers from the Golden Age, Blondell had been a performer in vaudeville. There was something about the experience of being in this rough-and-tumble, fast-paced arena of live entertainment that shaped the talents and skills of many a movie star, including Ginger Rogers, Bob Hope, Judy Garland, and, of course, comic actors like W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, and Burns and Allen. It also inspired a work ethic that vaudeville veterans equated with professionalism. Blondell joined her family’s act  when she was only three years old. Her father, Eddie Blondell, Jr., and her mother, Katie Cain, were comedians who could also perform a song-and-dance act. Joan learned the basics of variety entertainment, such as timing,  techniques for putting over a song, and the physicality of telling jokes, which was called “the business.” The business referred to vocal inflections and body language, and even the most mediocre vaudevillians seemed to excel at the business.

JOAN BLONDELL, c. EARLY 1930s

For me, Blondell defines the Depression-era gal more than any other actress, including Harlow. According to Marjorie Rosen, author of Popcorn Venus, blondes ruled the big screen during the 1930s, but unlike the golden goddesses, frantic flappers, and virginal innocents of the 1920s, blondes of the Depression era were grounded in the realities of the times. The early sound era revealed many to have brassy, provocative, trashy, and even brittle voices, which often spewed  the gritty slang of the day. These blondes played tough-talking, working-class girls, whose fears and concerns were readily understood by Depression-era audiences. Warner Bros. was home to many of these blondes, including Blondell. Ironically, given her hair color and her name, someone at Warners suggested she change her name to Inez Holmes! She refused.

JOAN ENTERED SHOW BUSINESS AT AGE THREE.

Blondell played sassy, flirty working-class girls whose hard-edge demeanor and wise-cracking patter served as protection against the realities of the time. Her star image was more earthy than Ginger Rogers’, less sexualized than Harlow’s, and more topical than Mae West’s. Each film presented her in a Depression-era setting in which she was constantly threatened by unemployment and eviction. Her characters were down on their luck and one step away from the streets but determined to survive with their dignity and senses of humor intact. Depending on the genre, her characters flirted, conned, stole, connived, or turned to crime to keep from walking the streets, which was a real fear for working-class, single women during the Depression. Her characters represented the last rung on the ladder above prostitution, and the appeal of her star image was her determination not to succumb, generally by using her wits and sheer grit. “Chorus girls used to get pearls and diamonds,” her character says in Big City Blues (1932) in a line that could be relevant in any Blondell film. “Now all they expect is a corned beef sandwich and they yell if they don’t get it.”

JOAN AND BETTE DAVIS, c. 1932

Blondell’s best remembered films from this era are probably Three on a Match (1932), The Public Enemy (1931), and Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), though she was not the female lead in any of them. Easy to overlook in The Public Enemy, she has a small role as Mamie, wife of Cagney’s partner, played by Edward Woods. Three on a Match was resurrected a few years ago when it was released as part of the “Forbidden Hollywood” series of pre-Code movies, because drugs, child abuse, and sex feature prominently in the plot. Blondell plays one of a trio of childhood friends who take different paths in adulthood. Her character starts out in jail but eventually straightens herself out by falling for her friend’s ex-husband. Directed at a brisk pace by Mervyn LeRoy, Three on a Match is worthy viewing for the lead characters—all female—played by three of Warner Bros.’s finest, Blondell, Ann Dvorak, and Bette Davis.

The female characters carry the story in Gold Diggers of 1933 as well, and Blondell stands out in a cast that includes Ginger Rogers, Ruby Keeler, and Aline MacMahon. I used to show Gold Diggers of 1933 in seminars and classes to challenge the cliché that audiences went to the movies during the Depression to escape it. The plotline may follow the antics of putting on a Broadway show, but the movie is about the Depression. Securing parts in the new show is not a career move for the girls; it’s the means to keep them off the streets. Producer Barney Hopkins tells them his new show will be about the Depression to which Blondell’s character quips, “We know all about that.” The connection between money, women’s (mis)fortunes, and the Depression is telegraphed in the opening number in which a chorus line of blondes dressed in sheer costumes covered in over-sized coins sings and dances to “We’re in the Money.” Just before the number is finished, the sheriff and his men come in to confiscate the sets and costumes, effectively shutting the show down. Someone snatches the giant coin that covers Rogers’ crotch, and she drolly responds, “The Depression, deary.” Blondell’s finest scene is the closing number in which she performs “Remember My Forgotten Man.” Staged by Busby Berkeley, the production number concludes the film on an ambivalent note, instead of the happy ending in which the male and female characters are paired up. The number opens with Blondell as a streetwalker ruminating on her forgotten man, a term from the era denoting WWI veterans made homeless by the Depression who have been forgotten by the society and government they risked their lives to protect. Blondell, who was not much of a singer, recites the lyrics more than she sings them. According to Berkeley, that is precisely why he chose her—because she could act the song and put it over dramatically. An African American singer, Etta Moten, sings the chorus in a bluesy style, lending the production number its mood of despair and melancholy. The production number includes prostitutes, war widows wasting away, and homeless veterans harassed by the police—there is little here to suggest that viewers who saw this film “escaped” from anything.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37-ocetYDdU]

Many of Blondell’s films were produced during the pre-Code era, when studios and producers were not bound to follow the guidelines of the Production Code—the censorship system of the Golden Age. Though most are not classics and some are one-hour programmers, they are interesting because they offer appealing female characters, risqué situations and dialogue, and an implied criticism of social institutions, which had let down the people of America during the crisis that was the Depression.

WARNER BROS. COULD GET AWAY WITH BATHTUB SCENES SUCH AS THIS ONE IN THE PRE-CODE ERA (FROM 'BLONDE CRAZY').

Blondell plays the title character in Blondie Johnson (1933), which is the story of a female gangster. In an economy of storytelling that today’s directors of inflated blockbusters should envy, the film tells the tale of Blondie as she evolves from a victim of the Depression to a dangerous force in the underworld in 67 minutes. Unlike most male gangsters, Blondie does not turn to crime out of greed or because she’s a sociopath, but because she is let down by the social institutions that are supposed to serve and protect the people. When a city magistrate refuses her pleas to help care for her ailing mother, an embittered Blondie declares, “This city’s going to pay me a living, a good living, and it’s going to get back from me just as little as I have to give.” Blondie Johnson represented Blondell’s first starring role, and she handles the rapid changes in her character with aplomb. Its twist on gender roles makes it an interesting contribution to the gangster genre.

STANWYCK AND BLONDELL IN THEIR UNDERWEAR CONTEMPLATE THE SKELETON IN THEIR BED IN 'NIGHT NURSE.'

In Night Nurse (1931), Blondell costars with Barbara Stanwyck in a story of private nurses who care for a family of neglected children. For nurses, Stanwyck and Blondell spend an inordinate amount of time in their underwear as they seem to be constantly dressing and undressing. Also, the risque dialogue is fun if a bit ridiculous as when the kids’ mother wildly screams, “I am a dipsomaniac and I love it.” Another entertaining, pre-Code melodrama, Convention City, follows the wild antics of a group of salespeople who attend a convention in Atlantic City. Blondell plays a chorus girl who gets entangled with a married conventioneer. The glib handling of adultery disturbed viewers and reviewers upon release, but apparently Blondell’s costumes disturbed Jack Warner during production. In a memo to producer Hal Wallis, Warner fumed, “We must put brassieres on Joan Blondell and make her cover up her breasts because, otherwise, we are going to have these pictures stopped in a lot of places. I believe in showing their forms but, for Lord’s sake, don’t let those bulbs stick out. I’m referring to her gown in Convention City.”

Just before the musical Dames was released in 1934, the Production Code Administration was given the power to enforce the Code by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. That resulted in changes to Dames, including the ditching of a production number designed by Busby Berkeley based on a cat and mouse story. The number was planned for Blondell, who at one point was to turn to the mouse and purr, “Come up and see my pussy sometime.” Yikes!

BLONDELL AND CAGNEY ON BROADWAY IN 'PENNY ARCADE.' THEY CAME TO HOLLYWOOD AT THE SAME TIME, EVENTUALLY MAKING 7 FILMS TOGETHER.

Blondell starred or costarred in 50 films during the decade of the 1930s; from 1931 through 1933 alone, she appeared in more than 20. Even while she was pregnant, she made five films, with the studio working her up to her seventh month. She adhered to a work ethic she had learned in vaudeville, plus she needed the paycheck to support her family, especially in the early years. She never complained, but she was also unappreciated and taken for granted. Blondell had come to Hollywood with James Cagney after starring together in a Broadway play called Penny Arcade. They appeared in secondary roles in the film version, Sinners’ Holiday, which landed both of them a five-year contract at Warners. After appearing in film after film, Cagney realized he was making the studio a great deal of money, but he was still earning the same salary as an unknown. After starring in Blonde Crazy with Blondell, he asked for a raise and was refused. He walked out and encouraged the hard-working actress to do the same. She feared losing her contract or being punished with a suspension; because her family was dependent on her, she stayed quiet. Cagney was suspended by the studio, but the Motion Picture Academy resolved the dispute, and he returned at $3000 per week (amount varies according to source), while Blondell continued to receive her contracted salary of $500 per week.

JOAN IN HER FAVORITE ROLE, AUNT CISSY IN "A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN.'

In 1939, Joan Blondell left Warner Bros. for Columbia after then-husband Dick Powell correctly deduced that neither of them was getting their due. Blondell made fewer films during the 1940s, preferring to work in radio or on the stage. She periodically returned to Hollywood in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s in supporting roles as a character actress. A veteran scene stealer, Blondell could enliven mediocre material with her line delivery and sassy personality. Her favorite role was as Aunt Cissy in the classic drama A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), and she earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance in The Blue Veil (1951), a nearly forgotten melodrama starring Jane Wyman. I prefer her as comic support in such films as Desk Set (1957) with Katharine Hepburn and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) where she holds her own opposite the novelty that was Jayne Mansfield. This week, TCM airs two films from this period of Blondell’s career: This Could Be the Night (1957) on Wednesday, June 22, in the morning, and Rock Hunter on Friday, June 24, during prime time in the evening. In the 1960s, she seemed to move with the times, appearing in an Elvis Presley film, Stay Away Joe (1968) and costarring in a popular television series, Here Comes the Brides (1968-1970),  for which she was nominated for an Emmy.

Like Hepburn, Davis, Rogers, and others of her era, Blondell worked right up to the time of her death. Her last film, The Woman Inside, was released two years after she died on Christmas Day in 1979.

Behlmer, Rudy. Inside Warner Bros., New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985.

Bowers, Ronald L. “Joan Blondell: Epitomized the Tough Girl with a Warm Heart,” Films in Review, posted by Archives online, May 14, 2009.

Kennedy, Matthew. Joan Blondell: A Life Between Takes. University Press of Mississippi, 2007.

Rosen, Marjorie, Popcorn Venus. New York: Avon Books, 1973.

58 Responses Joan Blondell: “I Was the Fizz on the Soda”
Posted By Wendy T. Merckel : June 20, 2011 2:19 pm

Hallelujah!

Thanks for giving a nod to one of the hardest working, enlivening presences in classic film, Joan Blondell.

She really was the fizz on the soda.

Posted By Wendy T. Merckel : June 20, 2011 2:19 pm

Hallelujah!

Thanks for giving a nod to one of the hardest working, enlivening presences in classic film, Joan Blondell.

She really was the fizz on the soda.

Posted By kimd : June 20, 2011 2:44 pm

Excellent blog.I agree that Ms.Blondell doesn’t get the respect she deserves.I also think that “The Forgotten Man” number is one of the best in any musical ever.Unfortunately,it’s still relevant.

Posted By kimd : June 20, 2011 2:44 pm

Excellent blog.I agree that Ms.Blondell doesn’t get the respect she deserves.I also think that “The Forgotten Man” number is one of the best in any musical ever.Unfortunately,it’s still relevant.

Posted By debbe : June 20, 2011 3:11 pm

home run suzi doll. always liked joan blondell. and you are right, she had a way with dialogue that many young actresses could learn from.

Posted By debbe : June 20, 2011 3:11 pm

home run suzi doll. always liked joan blondell. and you are right, she had a way with dialogue that many young actresses could learn from.

Posted By DrProcter : June 20, 2011 3:20 pm

Great article! Just wanted mention that Blondell is excellent in “Nightmare Alley” with Tyrone Power as well

Posted By DrProcter : June 20, 2011 3:20 pm

Great article! Just wanted mention that Blondell is excellent in “Nightmare Alley” with Tyrone Power as well

Posted By Emgee : June 20, 2011 4:10 pm

Gee, Joan was such a sexy firecracker, she lit up every movie she was in. Once the Production Code kicked in, i think her career really suffered. She was just too brazen for the watchdogs of the Code Administration. To me one of her most memorable roles was as a fortune teller in the grim noir Nightmare Alley (1947) which showed that she could handle dark dramatic roles as well. TCM, how about a Joan Blondell Tribute sometime soon?

Posted By Emgee : June 20, 2011 4:10 pm

Gee, Joan was such a sexy firecracker, she lit up every movie she was in. Once the Production Code kicked in, i think her career really suffered. She was just too brazen for the watchdogs of the Code Administration. To me one of her most memorable roles was as a fortune teller in the grim noir Nightmare Alley (1947) which showed that she could handle dark dramatic roles as well. TCM, how about a Joan Blondell Tribute sometime soon?

Posted By AL : June 20, 2011 5:22 pm

Great lady! I wonder if anybody remembers that in the ’30′s Joan Blondell and Charles Atlas were named as having “The most perfect body in America”. Don’t remember who made this decision, but I heartily concur about Joan! In addition to her talent and screen presence, she was a Babe–fer sure, fer sure!

Posted By AL : June 20, 2011 5:22 pm

Great lady! I wonder if anybody remembers that in the ’30′s Joan Blondell and Charles Atlas were named as having “The most perfect body in America”. Don’t remember who made this decision, but I heartily concur about Joan! In addition to her talent and screen presence, she was a Babe–fer sure, fer sure!

Posted By NCeddie : June 20, 2011 5:24 pm

My mom introduced me to Joan Blondell via the short-lived TV series, “Banyon.” She didn’t usually care about detective shows, but wanted to see that one because it was set in the 1930′s and featured Joan Blondell. Mom said she had liked seeing Blondell in movies in the actual 1930′s and got me interested in the longevity of Blondell’s career, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
I wish TCM would package a Joan Blondell film collection similar to what they’ve done with various genres of other classic movies. And, of course, I’d wish for an introduction of Joan Blondell’s career by the tender “Mr. TCM” himself– Robert Osborne

Posted By NCeddie : June 20, 2011 5:24 pm

My mom introduced me to Joan Blondell via the short-lived TV series, “Banyon.” She didn’t usually care about detective shows, but wanted to see that one because it was set in the 1930′s and featured Joan Blondell. Mom said she had liked seeing Blondell in movies in the actual 1930′s and got me interested in the longevity of Blondell’s career, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
I wish TCM would package a Joan Blondell film collection similar to what they’ve done with various genres of other classic movies. And, of course, I’d wish for an introduction of Joan Blondell’s career by the tender “Mr. TCM” himself– Robert Osborne

Posted By AL : June 20, 2011 5:31 pm

The haunting MY FORGOTTEN MAN–unforgettable. She was brilliant (as usual)in NIGHTMARE ALLEY. Let’s not forget STAND-IN…

Posted By AL : June 20, 2011 5:31 pm

The haunting MY FORGOTTEN MAN–unforgettable. She was brilliant (as usual)in NIGHTMARE ALLEY. Let’s not forget STAND-IN…

Posted By Debbie A-H : June 20, 2011 8:15 pm

Great article, Dr. Doll! I’ve always really liked her, unfortunately I mostly knew her from Here Comes the Brides. I’ll be on the lookout for her movies now though.

Posted By Debbie A-H : June 20, 2011 8:15 pm

Great article, Dr. Doll! I’ve always really liked her, unfortunately I mostly knew her from Here Comes the Brides. I’ll be on the lookout for her movies now though.

Posted By Jeffrey Spivak : June 20, 2011 11:28 pm

“Remember My Forgotten Man” was not intended as the finale of “Gold Diggers of 1933″ but its powerful themes and images warranted its significant placement. True, Joan Blondell was no singer. In fact, as the number closes, it’s not even her voice on the soundtrack. A radio singer, Jean Cowen, did the vocal.

Look carefully just before the number begins and you can spot Busby Berkeley himself playing the cameo role of “call boy” as he alerts the chorus to get ready for the “Forgotten Man” number.

Some months after the film’s release, Etta Moten sang at the White House for a birthday celebration of F.D.R. He requested that she sing “Remember My Forgotten Man”.

Jeffrey Spivak, author “Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley”

Posted By Jeffrey Spivak : June 20, 2011 11:28 pm

“Remember My Forgotten Man” was not intended as the finale of “Gold Diggers of 1933″ but its powerful themes and images warranted its significant placement. True, Joan Blondell was no singer. In fact, as the number closes, it’s not even her voice on the soundtrack. A radio singer, Jean Cowen, did the vocal.

Look carefully just before the number begins and you can spot Busby Berkeley himself playing the cameo role of “call boy” as he alerts the chorus to get ready for the “Forgotten Man” number.

Some months after the film’s release, Etta Moten sang at the White House for a birthday celebration of F.D.R. He requested that she sing “Remember My Forgotten Man”.

Jeffrey Spivak, author “Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley”

Posted By Patricia Nolan-Hall : June 21, 2011 12:57 am

Joan’s most adorable role was as a moll with a good heart in “Three Men on a Horse”. Frank McHugh has the lead in a very funny picture.

A couple of years ago during “Summer Under the Stars”, TCM Canada had a Joan Blondell day instead of the one in the States for William Powell. Nobody complained. I only wish the channel would screen “Goodbye Again” and “I’ve Got Your Number” again soon.

Joan Blondell must have been the hardest working actress in Hollywood during the 1930s.

Posted By Patricia Nolan-Hall : June 21, 2011 12:57 am

Joan’s most adorable role was as a moll with a good heart in “Three Men on a Horse”. Frank McHugh has the lead in a very funny picture.

A couple of years ago during “Summer Under the Stars”, TCM Canada had a Joan Blondell day instead of the one in the States for William Powell. Nobody complained. I only wish the channel would screen “Goodbye Again” and “I’ve Got Your Number” again soon.

Joan Blondell must have been the hardest working actress in Hollywood during the 1930s.

Posted By Vincent : June 21, 2011 7:37 am

So delighted Joan will be honored (as will Ann Dvorak) as part of this year’s “Summer Under The Stars” at TCM in the U.S. Both are among the delights of pre-Code.

Posted By Vincent : June 21, 2011 7:37 am

So delighted Joan will be honored (as will Ann Dvorak) as part of this year’s “Summer Under The Stars” at TCM in the U.S. Both are among the delights of pre-Code.

Posted By Heidi : June 21, 2011 12:31 pm

I Loved Blondell in Desk Set. I love that movie anyway, and she is a great part in it. THe part where she rattles off the baseball statistics of Ty Cobb got me, and the champagne drinking with Hepburn and Tracy was a hoot. I have seen her in a couple of other things, but will keep my eye open for these movies you mentioned. She was really something, and deserves more attention.

Posted By Heidi : June 21, 2011 12:31 pm

I Loved Blondell in Desk Set. I love that movie anyway, and she is a great part in it. THe part where she rattles off the baseball statistics of Ty Cobb got me, and the champagne drinking with Hepburn and Tracy was a hoot. I have seen her in a couple of other things, but will keep my eye open for these movies you mentioned. She was really something, and deserves more attention.

Posted By john august smith : June 21, 2011 4:22 pm

It is a shame that Convention City is unavailable. Over the years I believe I have seen all her films except that one.

Posted By john august smith : June 21, 2011 4:22 pm

It is a shame that Convention City is unavailable. Over the years I believe I have seen all her films except that one.

Posted By suzidoll : June 21, 2011 4:43 pm

I am so happy that Blondell has so many fans–from all phases of her career. If I remember correctly, the first Blondell film I saw was either DESK SET or STAY AWAY JOE.

I am looking forward to her day as part of TCM’s Summer Under the Stars. She certainly deserves it–actually, given the number of films she was in, she deserves an entire weekend.

Thanks everyone for contributing your memories and favorites.

Posted By suzidoll : June 21, 2011 4:43 pm

I am so happy that Blondell has so many fans–from all phases of her career. If I remember correctly, the first Blondell film I saw was either DESK SET or STAY AWAY JOE.

I am looking forward to her day as part of TCM’s Summer Under the Stars. She certainly deserves it–actually, given the number of films she was in, she deserves an entire weekend.

Thanks everyone for contributing your memories and favorites.

Posted By dukeroberts : June 22, 2011 12:20 pm

My first Blondell movie was Grease. Yeah, I’m a young ‘un. She played the sassy waitress at the diner frequented by the T-Birds and Pink Ladies. I then saw her in Stay Away, Joe (probably my lease favorite Elvis movie, Suzi), so I only knew her as an older actress. Many years later I finally saw her as a younger actress and was amazed at how cute and sexy she was. Thank you for the interesting article about one of the less than widely appreciated superstar actresses of the Golden Age.

Posted By dukeroberts : June 22, 2011 12:20 pm

My first Blondell movie was Grease. Yeah, I’m a young ‘un. She played the sassy waitress at the diner frequented by the T-Birds and Pink Ladies. I then saw her in Stay Away, Joe (probably my lease favorite Elvis movie, Suzi), so I only knew her as an older actress. Many years later I finally saw her as a younger actress and was amazed at how cute and sexy she was. Thank you for the interesting article about one of the less than widely appreciated superstar actresses of the Golden Age.

Posted By Jenni : June 22, 2011 11:03 pm

Oh my Grandpa would have loved your blog, Suzi, as Joan Blondell was one of his favorite actresses. I watched her recently playing Eleanor Parker’s aunt in the movie, Lizzie. This was made in 1957, when she was mainly playing secondary characters. Did she and Dick Powell have any kids? I am assuming yes, as you mentioned she was pregnant and worked until her 7th month.

Posted By Jenni : June 22, 2011 11:03 pm

Oh my Grandpa would have loved your blog, Suzi, as Joan Blondell was one of his favorite actresses. I watched her recently playing Eleanor Parker’s aunt in the movie, Lizzie. This was made in 1957, when she was mainly playing secondary characters. Did she and Dick Powell have any kids? I am assuming yes, as you mentioned she was pregnant and worked until her 7th month.

Posted By Mary : June 23, 2011 7:30 am

I remember reading a description of a Blondell performance once characterized as a “blowsy delight”! Always loved that!!

Posted By Mary : June 23, 2011 7:30 am

I remember reading a description of a Blondell performance once characterized as a “blowsy delight”! Always loved that!!

Posted By Lamar : June 23, 2011 11:06 am

I first remember her from “Here Come the Brides,” and “Topper Returns” which was in heavy TV rotation when I was a kid in Chicago in the 60s/70s. I especially love her in “Rock Hunter”-she gets all the best lines. And when is “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” gonna get released on DVD?

Posted By Lamar : June 23, 2011 11:06 am

I first remember her from “Here Come the Brides,” and “Topper Returns” which was in heavy TV rotation when I was a kid in Chicago in the 60s/70s. I especially love her in “Rock Hunter”-she gets all the best lines. And when is “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” gonna get released on DVD?

Posted By Keith : June 25, 2011 8:25 pm

Joan’s “Forgotten Man” still moves me to tears and certainly captures the Depressions of 1929 and 2007.

Posted By Keith : June 25, 2011 8:25 pm

Joan’s “Forgotten Man” still moves me to tears and certainly captures the Depressions of 1929 and 2007.

Posted By dukeroberts : June 26, 2011 12:36 am

Despite the fact that FDR totally changed the meaning of William Graham Sumner’s “Forgotten Man” concept to fit his own political purpose, “Remember My Forgotten Man”, dedicated to FDR’s idea of the concept, is still a touching number.

Posted By dukeroberts : June 26, 2011 12:36 am

Despite the fact that FDR totally changed the meaning of William Graham Sumner’s “Forgotten Man” concept to fit his own political purpose, “Remember My Forgotten Man”, dedicated to FDR’s idea of the concept, is still a touching number.

Posted By Lisa W. : June 27, 2011 7:28 pm

Always loved her— “Forgotten Man” is just beautifully done and so moving! Thanks for the great blog, I really appreciate your insight.

Posted By Lisa W. : June 27, 2011 7:28 pm

Always loved her— “Forgotten Man” is just beautifully done and so moving! Thanks for the great blog, I really appreciate your insight.

Posted By KLG : June 29, 2011 8:02 pm

I LUV her. THANKS for sharing!

Posted By KLG : June 29, 2011 8:02 pm

I LUV her. THANKS for sharing!

Posted By Danny Reid : June 30, 2011 3:05 am

Blondell has definitely grown into one of my favorite Pre-Code actresses, and always conveys such a wonderful sardonic sort of spirit. Night Nurse being the prime example, but whenever she’s on fire, she really gives it her best.

Posted By Danny Reid : June 30, 2011 3:05 am

Blondell has definitely grown into one of my favorite Pre-Code actresses, and always conveys such a wonderful sardonic sort of spirit. Night Nurse being the prime example, but whenever she’s on fire, she really gives it her best.

Posted By michaelgloversmith : June 30, 2011 9:37 am

Good stuff, as always. I also really enjoy her late career performance in Cassavetes’ OPENING NIGHT.

Posted By michaelgloversmith : June 30, 2011 9:37 am

Good stuff, as always. I also really enjoy her late career performance in Cassavetes’ OPENING NIGHT.

Posted By suzidoll : June 30, 2011 6:41 pm

I am posting the following for our good friend Al Lowe, who, for some reason, could not post this comment due to technical difficulties. Below is his post word for word, and here’s hoping his problems are cleared up soon, because we miss his comments. And, thank you Al for the compliment.
————————————————————-
Hi Suzi,

It may have never occurred to you – but you are the Joan Blondell of the Morlocks – hardworking, entertaining and excellent.

Here are some nuggets of info about Joan from a book written by Don Stanke and James Robert Parish – “The Leading Ladies.”

Her comment on THE BLUE VEIL: “That was the worst piece of trash I ever made. I did it in a day and a half in New York.”

Her middle name was Rosebud.

She became friends with Katharine Hepburn when they made THE DESK SET. She could have been replaced due to an illness but Kate got the schedule changed and watched over her pup named Bridie Murphy.

THE OPPOSITE SEX, a MGM musical, featured Joan, Dick Powell’s ex-wife, and June Allyson, his last wife. They were civil to each other. Joan wasn’t left anything in Powell’s will.

An ancestor named Blondell had been the favorite minstrel of King Richard the Lion Hearted and entertained him during when battles during the Crusades went badly.

As youngsters her siblings and she were kept backstage and watched over by animal trainers, singers, dancers, clowns, jugglers and acrobats.

Joan was also married to cinematographer George Barnes who won an Oscar for REBECCA. He had seven wives before he died.

She saw a lot of the old Warner crew members when she made “Banyon.”

Tyrone Power was “a darling guy,” she once said. She enjoyed making NIGHTMARE ALLEY because of him.

Another husband was Mike Todd, who, of course, later became involved with Liz Taylor. She insisted on a clause in their marriage contract in which Todd promised to be home every night by 7:30 p.m.

Posted By suzidoll : June 30, 2011 6:41 pm

I am posting the following for our good friend Al Lowe, who, for some reason, could not post this comment due to technical difficulties. Below is his post word for word, and here’s hoping his problems are cleared up soon, because we miss his comments. And, thank you Al for the compliment.
————————————————————-
Hi Suzi,

It may have never occurred to you – but you are the Joan Blondell of the Morlocks – hardworking, entertaining and excellent.

Here are some nuggets of info about Joan from a book written by Don Stanke and James Robert Parish – “The Leading Ladies.”

Her comment on THE BLUE VEIL: “That was the worst piece of trash I ever made. I did it in a day and a half in New York.”

Her middle name was Rosebud.

She became friends with Katharine Hepburn when they made THE DESK SET. She could have been replaced due to an illness but Kate got the schedule changed and watched over her pup named Bridie Murphy.

THE OPPOSITE SEX, a MGM musical, featured Joan, Dick Powell’s ex-wife, and June Allyson, his last wife. They were civil to each other. Joan wasn’t left anything in Powell’s will.

An ancestor named Blondell had been the favorite minstrel of King Richard the Lion Hearted and entertained him during when battles during the Crusades went badly.

As youngsters her siblings and she were kept backstage and watched over by animal trainers, singers, dancers, clowns, jugglers and acrobats.

Joan was also married to cinematographer George Barnes who won an Oscar for REBECCA. He had seven wives before he died.

She saw a lot of the old Warner crew members when she made “Banyon.”

Tyrone Power was “a darling guy,” she once said. She enjoyed making NIGHTMARE ALLEY because of him.

Another husband was Mike Todd, who, of course, later became involved with Liz Taylor. She insisted on a clause in their marriage contract in which Todd promised to be home every night by 7:30 p.m.

Posted By stefmagura : July 3, 2011 2:43 am

I did love her performance in Gold Diggers of 1933, and I think it’s worthi mentioning that she nd Harlow were in the Public Enemy together, since Harlow’s mentioned in this article.

Thanks to the commenter who first saw her in Grease, I now remember the character she played. I didn’t recognize the character when I looked at the cast list, which was strange because I’ve seen that film many times.

Posted By stefmagura : July 3, 2011 2:43 am

I did love her performance in Gold Diggers of 1933, and I think it’s worthi mentioning that she nd Harlow were in the Public Enemy together, since Harlow’s mentioned in this article.

Thanks to the commenter who first saw her in Grease, I now remember the character she played. I didn’t recognize the character when I looked at the cast list, which was strange because I’ve seen that film many times.

Posted By Samantha : July 24, 2011 11:44 am

It’s funny to hear that Joan Blondell is underappreciated, because in my circle, that is hardly the case, but judging by her salary and some of the lesser-quality movies she was forced to appear in, it seems like the studio didn’t appreciate what a wonderful actress they had on contract. It’s too bad because she really stands the test of time.

Posted By Samantha : July 24, 2011 11:44 am

It’s funny to hear that Joan Blondell is underappreciated, because in my circle, that is hardly the case, but judging by her salary and some of the lesser-quality movies she was forced to appear in, it seems like the studio didn’t appreciate what a wonderful actress they had on contract. It’s too bad because she really stands the test of time.

Posted By Mark : August 9, 2011 11:23 pm

I’ve always loved Joan. My first memories of her was “Here Comes The Brides” in the late 60s and then she would pop up in late-night movies from time to time. Always a beauty–even as she aged and she never failed to be unforgettable. I remember “bubbly” as being a word that occurred to me when I would see her.
Then as the years went by, I saw much of her early work; filled with that unmistakable effervescence and of course always absolutely adorable–and those eyes! She never lost those sparkling eyes!
Joan had an awesome talent that I’ve always felt was somewhat under appreciated. I hope that somehow, ALL of her films make their way through the restoration process and once again become available to her fans. As others have said, please encourage this dear TCM, and please profile this wonderful actress. You are unique in being able to bring attention where it’s needed. Thank you.

Posted By Mark : August 9, 2011 11:23 pm

I’ve always loved Joan. My first memories of her was “Here Comes The Brides” in the late 60s and then she would pop up in late-night movies from time to time. Always a beauty–even as she aged and she never failed to be unforgettable. I remember “bubbly” as being a word that occurred to me when I would see her.
Then as the years went by, I saw much of her early work; filled with that unmistakable effervescence and of course always absolutely adorable–and those eyes! She never lost those sparkling eyes!
Joan had an awesome talent that I’ve always felt was somewhat under appreciated. I hope that somehow, ALL of her films make their way through the restoration process and once again become available to her fans. As others have said, please encourage this dear TCM, and please profile this wonderful actress. You are unique in being able to bring attention where it’s needed. Thank you.

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