Rose Joan Blondell (August 30, 1906 – December 25, 1979) was an American actress who performed in movies and on television for half a century.
After winning a beauty pageant, Blondell embarked upon a film career. Establishing herself as a sexy, wisecracking blonde, she was a pre-Code staple of Warner Bros. pictures, and appeared in more than 100 movies and television productions.
She was most active in films during the 1930s, and during this time, she co-starred with Glenda Farrell in nine films, in which the duo portrayed gold diggers.
THE PUBLIC ENEMY
THE FAMOUS FERGUSON CASE
MAKE ME A STAR
BIG CITY BLUES
THREE ON A MATCH
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933
SONS O' GUNS
THE PERFECT SPECIMEN
LADY FOR A NIGHT
A TREE GOES IN BROOKLYN
She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in The Blue Veil (1951).
THE TWILIGHT ZONE
THE CINCINNATI KID
HERE COME THE BRIDES
Blondell was seen in featured roles in two films — Grease (1978) and The Champ (1979) — released shortly before her death from leukemia.
Blondell was married three times, first to cinematographer George Barnes in a private wedding ceremony on January 4, 1933, at the First Presbyterian Church in Phoenix, Arizona. They had one child — Norman Scott Barnes, who became an accomplished producer, director, and television executive — and divorced in 1936.
On September 19, 1936, she married her second husband, actor, director, and singer Dick Powell. They had a daughter, Ellen Powell, who became a studio hair stylist, and Powell adopted her son by her previous marriage under the name Norman Scott Powell. Blondell and Powell were divorced on July 14, 1944.
On July 5, 1947, Blondell married her third husband, producer Mike Todd, whom she divorced in 1950. Her marriage to Todd was an emotional and financial disaster. She once accused him of holding her outside a hotel window by her ankles. He was also a heavy spender who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars gambling (high-stakes bridge was one of his weaknesses) and went through a controversial bankruptcy during their marriage. An often-repeated myth is that Mike Todd "dumped" Joan Blondell for Elizabeth Taylor, when in fact, Blondell left Todd of her own accord years before he met Taylor.
Blondell died of leukemia in Santa Monica, California, on Christmas Day, 1979, with her children and her sister at her bedside. She is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.