Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hollywood Blondes (that have nothing to do with wrestling)

I have a thing for 1930s peroxide blondes.  Hardboiled little things with vanilla-colored hair, tough and fiery and sure of themselves.  They turn up in every pre-Code movie, forever Party Guest #3 or Telephone Operator.  Even though I know they're a Hollywood invention, they've come to represent the Depression for me: women who know a thing or two about struggling and are willing to fight to survive.  Here are three I love:

Jean Harlow is the quintessential example, the Platinum Blonde who started it all.   Sure, she was sexy, but she was also smart as a whip and quick with a comeback.  (She was also very intelligent off-screen, too; one day I'll devote more time to the Baby, one of my favorites.)

Another favorite of mine is Toby Wing, the world's most famous chorus girl.  She never rose to the heights of stardom, but she was in quite a few important films -- yup, that's her getting serenaded by Dick Powell in 42nd Street -- and even though she was usually uncredited, she managed to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I absolutely adore Polly Walters and squeal when she shows up in a movie!  Her career was short, and mostly spent playing telephone operators, but her nasal honk and sweet little face is immensely endearing.  She did very well in Broadway, starring in a hit 1933 show called She Loves Me Not.

Almost everyone tried to go super-blonde when it was popular, with mixed results.  Here's Bette Davis early in her career: 

And here's Joan Crawford, looking, well...let's just say brunette suited her much better. 

(screencap courtesy The Crowd Roars)

Regardless if they're in the lead or only on-screen for a moment, these "broads" with a heart of gold are just one of the things I find so irresistable about the pre-Code era. 

(p.s.  I know I didn't mention Joan Blondell.  Shame on me!  She's fantastic!  Oh - and how could I forget Thelma Todd?  Yikes!)


Caftan Woman said...

Ya' gotta love those blazing blondes! Could they handle themselves in a clinch and give with the snarky lines!

I'd like to add a bit of applause for my fellow Canadian gal, Marjorie White. A personality plus gal who left us too soon.

Allen Hefner said...

I always thought that Ginger Rogers looked her best as a blond. There was a scene in 42nd Street when Ruby Keeler appeared as a blond, and that didn't work for me.

The one who made the most out of it, of course, was Penny Singleton, as Blondie!

Samira Larouci said...

Lovely post!


backlots said...

I absolutely ADORE Bette Davis as a blonde. I always love watching 'The Petreified Forest" simply because I think she's so beautiful in it :)

FlickChick said...

The blondes are always front and center - even going back to the lovely Mary Pickford. But, once Harlow hit town, everyone went platinum (at least for a while. Fun post!

FlickChick said...

A Person in the Dark is passing the "The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award" to your wonderful blog. Please stop by A Person in the Dark to pick up your award!

Isis said...

Mae West, perhaps?

Flapper Flickers + Silent Stanzas said...

Thanks so much, FlickChick!

Isis, I thought of her in bed last night. (She'd be pleased, I'm sure. LOL) She's in a class all by herself! ^_^

Irene Palfy said...

Yay for Toby Wing!!! Just love her!!