Joi Lansing — Isabel Jewell (1972)

Joi Lansing — Isabel Jewell —The passing Parade (1972) 🇺🇸 |

April 07, 2023

by Kirk Crivello

Question movie buffs about their favorite “hard blonde,” that secondary but indispensable staple of the cinema’s golden age, such special ladies as Marion Martin, the young Barbara Pepper, Iris Adrian and Gloria Dickson should crop up.

The one likely to be mentioned most often, however, is the strong, convincing actress Isabel Jewell, who died on April 5, 1972. She had a quality of sadness, with mournful eyes set in ordinary features and a tendency to wind up dead on occasions when she was not all bad. She was born in Shoshoni, Wyoming on July 19, 1910, the daughter of a prominent doctor.

In her school days at Hamilton College for Women and the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Isabel discovered she liked acting. Starting in stock in Chicago, she made her Broadway debut in Up Pops the Devil. The following season appearing in Blessed Event (’31) she met and fell in love with Lee Tracy.

When Tracy replaced James Cagney in the Warner Brothers Version of Blessed Event he saw to it that Isabel repeated her original part of the hard-boiled telephone operator. This was followed by the memorable "Counselor at Law," with John Barrymore, which earned her a MGM contract. Her most notable ’30s performances were: a touching bit as the doomed seamstress with Ronald Colman in "A Tale of Two Cities;" the movie star struck girl in Mae West’s "Go West Young Man;" as Gloria, a tubercular prostitute, who arrives in Shangri-La in Frank Capra's Lost Horizon; one of the friendly hookers of the Club Intime in "Marked Woman;" pore white trash Emma Slattery in Gone with the Wind; the white girl rescued from the Indians in King Vidor's "Northwest Passage." During the ’40s, she was kept busy at RKO: "Leopard Man," "Seventh Victim," "Badman’s Territory," "Falcon and the Co-Ed," "Born to Kill," "The Bishop’s Wife," etc. Isabel was active in L.A. stage, playing in Counselor At LawOf Mice and Men, and last appeared in Stage Society’s revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Any More. She was previously married to actor Paul Marion. Her final screen appearance was in "Sweet Kill," made in ’71.

To the charismatic magnetism of the screen’s great sex symbols — the fantastic allure of Harlow, the lush beauty of Monroe, the sexual vivaciousness of Mansfield — tragic Joi Lansing, who died of cancer on August 7, 1972, was perhaps the last of Hollywood’s platinum blonde sirens. Joi added her own ineffable electricity which didn’t mature until she started playing supper clubs in the mid-60s. From then on, she moved into high gear via engagements in top clubs around the country, including the Waldorf and Copa in New York. She was born Joy Loveland in Salt Lake City, Utah on April 6 of either 1929, ’31 or ’36, depending on what source you use.

At age 6, the Mormon family moved to Los Angeles. Spotted in a play at the Bliss Hayden Theatre (’47), she first appeared in Columbia’s "When a Girl’s Beautiful," while still attending Dorsey High. MGM producer Arthur Freed saw some photographs and put her under contract. She posed for endless Publicity stills, but was used in only one film, "Easter Parade."

For five years she appeared as the chief model on the "Love That Bob" show playing comedy foil for the ever amorous Cummings. Later, as Gladys Flatt on the "Beverly Hillbillies." A series of flashy small roles in "The Brave One," "Hole in the Head," "Who was that Lady" and "Marriage on the Rocks." Making her club bow at the Living Room in N.Y., Joi starred in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at Memphis Civic Theatre and Come Blow Your Horn (’70) at the Thunderbird Las Vegas.

At the end, her figure was svelte, her face slender, suffused with a kind of ethereal beauty. She was always luminous — the Lansing glow never rubbed off. Surviving are her husband, manager Stan Todd, whom she married in 1961, mother and a brother, Larry Loveland. She was previously wed to actor Lance Fuller.

Collection: Hollywood Studio MagazineDecember 1972