Known for playing character roles as a wisecracking, working-class girl, Joan Blondell performed in movies, television, and on stage from age one until her death. Blondell came from a family of vaudeville comedians and toured with the family troupe all over the US, Europe, Australia, and China before joining a Dallas, Texas stock company in 1926. After winning a “Miss Dallas” contest, she travelled to New York, where her performance in the 1929 Broadway musical Penny Arcade opposite James Cagney caught the attention of Warner Brothers, who signed both actors in 1930. Blondell was often cast as second lead, but was frustrated by the parts the studio assigned her, preferring light comedies that showed off her strengths. She left Warner Brothers in 1938, freelancing for Fox, MGM, and various television shows. She became known as a solid character actress and earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance in The Blue Veil in 1951. In 1972 she wrote a novel, Center Door Fancy, which was heavily based on her own life and career.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Joan Blondell." (Viewed on April 24, 2017) <https://jwa.org/people/blondell-joan>.