My Pal Glenda

By Joan Blondell.

My Pal GlendaNo one would be able to enjoy a case of the blues with Glenda around. She would start to console you and before you realized it you’d be laughing and it wouldn’t be because Glenda had made an effort to amuse you. She just can’t help but be funny.

That is one of the many reasons why she is so delightful to work with. Never a dull moment. She is a comedienne by accident rather than design for no matter how serious she takes her work before the camera, the finished product plays havoc with your funny bone.

Working with Glenda is splendid for me but hardly fair to her. You see, I am starred which means that I have the love interest and also share the comedy with her. In most pictures where two girls work together, one plays the sweet ingenue and the other the comedienne or villainess and in that way one does not take from the other.

Glenda and I do the same type of role which means that she must share her honors with me. With most girls such a state of affairs just wouldn’t work, they would want their honors all to themselves. Not so with Glenda. In fact, she goes to the other extreme to build me up in my comedy.

Glenda is, at all times, very natural. She isn’t one bit camera-conscious. Doesn’t know a good angle from a bad one and works just as hard with her back to the camera as facing it. Her movements are always quick, her speech spontaneous. When she goes into a scene she never follows the script to the sacrifice of her naturalness. She acts just as she would if the same situation arose in her every-day life. In other words, she suits the part to her personality instead of trying to suit her personality to the script. She handles dialogue the same way and never tries to twist her tongue around expressions foreign to her own way of speaking. Before we go into a scene, we go over our lines together and revise them, without changing their meaning, until they fit our mouths.

Then just as likely as not when the cameras are grinding, Glenda will come out with some expression entirely her own which means that I have to ad lib back and do it pretty quickly or the scene will die on us.

Glenda is like James Cagney in that respect. She’s a trouper from A to Z and can troup with the best of them and never let a scene slow up.

She is the fastest thinker I have ever known. She can have a dozen things on her mind at the same time and not get them bawled up. Her body keeps up with her mind. She moves swiftly and accurately and makes every move count.

I am always conscious of this when we go shopping together. She can buy six complete outfits with hats, shoes, gloves, purses and all other accessories to match while I’m making up my mind what I do want. And when we start any place, Glenda is all ready. She never has to run back for her keys or her check book or to give the cook last minute orders.

Glenda recently purchased an old Spanish house in North Hollywood. It was substantially built and the grounds were lovely but the house wasn’t one bit attractive. Glenda walked through it, talking as she went. “I’ll knock out that wall and build on a bedroom which will open out onto the patio. I’ll take that closet out and put in book shelves. The fireplace is clumsy. It will have to be rebuilt. It’s rather dark in the living room. French windows at that end would fix that. There’s plenty room over the garage for a play room, etc.”

She did all that and you should see the place now!

The minute you step into her home you realize that it is the home of a woman. It is all done in delicate shades of rose, green, blue, gold and white, yet it isn’t fussy and frilly.

Glenda is forever doing thoughtful things for others and she seems instinctively to know just what to do and when to do it.

My baby was two weeks late in arriving. Every morbid thought that could visit an expectant mother made a devil’s holiday in my mind. Reporters called daily to ask about the blessed event. Friends called and while they meant well, they sympathized and worried with me and made me all the more morbid.

I decided not to have callers, not even to answer the telephone. One evening it rang so persistently that I did answer. It was Glenda. She didn’t even ask me how I felt. Just blithely said, “I’m having a few friends in and I want you and George to come over.”

I began making excuses but she overruled them all and in a few minutes I was gaily calling George and announcing that we were going out. I had been so blue that I must have taken him by surprise but he fell in with my spirits and in no time I was laughing and having the best time at Glenda’s house.

I don’t know whether Glenda had cautioned her other friends or not but there was not one mention of babies, mothers, doctors, or hospitals. I was still glowingly happy early the following morning when I was taken to the hospital. God bless Glenda!

Source: Hollywood Magazine, January 1936, pp. 41, 48

Tagged: Glenda Farrell, Joan Blondell

6 comments on “                                                       My Pal Glenda

  1. Thanks for including this great article. I’m writing a long-in-the-works book on Glenda, and I needed to see this entire piece!

    • I’ve been looking forward to your book ever since I read about it on the Immortal Ephemera blog. I’m happy to hear that it should be out next year (as you recently mentioned in a comment on Glenda Farrell’s page at the TCM website).

      You can also view “My Pal Glenda” in its original context here:

      Part 1 (Hollywood, January 1936, page 41):

      Part 2 (page 48):

      Another resource you might be interested in (if you don’t already have it) is Glenda Farrell’s 1959 interview in the Columbia Center for Oral History Collection. Here is the page for the interview at the Columbia Center for Oral History website. You can purchase a transcript of the interview from them (if you haven’t already).

      By the way, if it isn’t too much trouble, I was wondering if you might know the original source of the following quotes, and whether they were originally separate or part of the same quote? I found them in books about Glenda Farrell, but could never find out the original source or sources, or whether or not they were originally part of the same longer quote.

      “They were caricatures of newspaperwomen as I knew them. So before I undertook to do the first Torchy, I determined to create a real human being – and not an exaggerated comedy type. I met those who visited Hollywood, and watched them work on visits to New York City. They were generally young, intelligent, refined and attractive. By making Torchy true to life, I tried to create a character practically unique in movies.”

      “She gave me a chance to break a Hollywood stereotype. Until Torchy arrived on the scene, most women reporters were portrayed as either sour old maids, masculine-looking feminists or twittery young girls who couldn’t wait to be rescued from tabloid drudgery by some bright young man. But Torchy Blane was a real girl. I made her bright, attractive, intelligent, daring and single-minded, able to hold her own. Sure, she loved McBride, but she had her own career and wasn’t about to settle for keeping house and raising kids while he brought home the bacon.”

      • Scott Nollen says:

        Hello! Thanks for your interest and all the great info! I’m not sure about the two quotes–if they are from the same source. I’ve seen the first quote in Bubbeo’s book, but am still looking for the primary article from which it came. I wish (other) writers were as painstaking about all the details (as I have been cursed to be!). I will keep you updated about the progress of the book. Glenda-ites unite! –Scott

        • I’m not sure about the two quotes–if they are from the same source. I’ve seen the first quote in Bubbeo’s book, but am still looking for the primary article from which it came.

          I found the second one in Your Colossal Main Feature Plus Full Support Program by John Howard Reid, but couldn’t find the original source (just as I couldn’t find the original source of the other one).

          By the way, I cited my sources for all of the quotes I used. So, if you like (and haven’t already), you can look at the references section at the bottom of each of my two articles (Glenda Farrell: Her Life and Legacy and Glenda Farrell: In Her Own Words), and find the sources. (The first 34 quotes in the latter are all from the same source, but there are several other sources starting with quote #35.) Some of the sources might be useful to you if you didn’t know about them beforehand.

          I will keep you updated about the progress of the book.

          Thank you. I appreciate it.

  2. Scott Nollen says:

    Hello again! As an aid to my research, I was wondering if you have a copy of Glenda’s 1959 reminiscences that I could possibly borrow and then send right back to you. I’m already giving you an acknowledgement in the book for your assistance. In any event, let me know, My email is Many thanks–Scott

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