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SANTA MONICA, Calif., Dec. 25 (AP) —Joan Blondell, the movie and television actress, died of leukemia today. She was 70 years old and had been hospitalized for several weeks. At her bedside were her son, Norman Powell, a television producer; her daughter, Ellen Powell ; and her sister, Gloria.
During a screen career that began in 1930 with the melodrama “Sinners’ Holiday” and ended some 80 films later with
the 1979 remake “The Champ,” Joan Blonde11 personified an American cinema archetype: the self‐reliant, breezy — but slightly blowsy — blonde who specializes in cracking wise. It was an image formed during Miss Blonde11's earliest years in Hollywood.
Initially a contract player with Warner Brothers, she was quickly stereotyped as a gun moll in such classic gangster films as “Blonde Crazy” and “The Public
Enemy.” In 1933 the studio, perhaps in appreciation, even allowed the actress to head her own ring of felons in “Blondie Johnson.” But then came musicals such
Rose Joan Blonde11 gave her birthday as Aug. 30, 1909. She was born in New York to Ed and Kathyrn Blonde11, both vaudevillians. Her parents not only arranged their baby's stage debut at the age of 4 months (as a carry‐on in “The Greatest Love"), but also took Miss Blondell, her brother and her sister on tours across the United States and to Australia and China.
In 1927, the actress made her Broadway debut with a small role in “The Trial of Mary Dugan.” When her third play —the 1930 “Penny Arcade” — was purchased by Hollywood, she went West to appear in the film version, which was retitled “Sinners’ Holiday.” So did another unknown young actor in the play, James Cagney.
50 Films in 8 Years
From 1930 to 1938, Miss Blonde11 made almost 50 films, the most successful of which included “The Crowd Roars,” “Three on a Match,” “Bullets or Ballots,” “Three Men on a Horse” and “Stand‐In.” Often cast opposite the era's leading male stars, she appeared most frequently opposite Mr. Cagney (seven times) and Dick Powell (also seven times).
After a two‐year marriage to a Hollywood cameraman, George S. Barnes, by whom she had a son, the actress was married in 1936 to Mr. Powell. Two years later, they both left Warner's. Through the early years of World War II, Miss Blonde11 continued to make films, including two more with Mr. Powell. After a 13year absence, she returned to the Broadway stage in 1943 to star in Mike Todd's production of “The Naked Genius,” short‐lived comedy by Gypsy Rose Lee. In 1944, she and Mr. Powell, by whom she had a daughter, were divorced.
By then, Miss Blonde11 had outgrown her brash, young image. But she proceeded to reveal, in films like “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” “Adventure” and “Nightmare Alley,” her capacity to perform effectively in character roles.
In 1948, the actress began a three‐year hiatus from the screen that coincided with her marriage to Mr. Todd. During this period, Miss Blonde11 again concentrated on the theater, both in summer stock and with the road company of “Something for the Boys.”
Returned to Hollywood
When her third marriage ended in 1950, she returned to Hollywood. Her performance the next year in “The Blue Veil,” starring Jane Wyman, earned Miss Blondell her only Academy Award nomination, for best supporting actress.
Since then, Miss Blonde11 was seen in supporting roles in such films as “The Desk Set,” “The Cincinnati Kid,” “Support Your Local Gunfighter,” “Grease” and, most recently, as a wealthy racehorse owner in “The Champ,” the 1979 Franco Zeffirelli remake, starring Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway, of the 1931 Wallace Beery‐Jackie Cooper film. In addition, she was a regular in the television series “Banyon,” about a 1930's private eye, which was shown in the early 1970's.
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In 1972, Miss Blonde11 published a novel titled “Center Door Fancy.” The book traced Nora, its heroine, from a vaudeville childhood to Hollywood stardom.