“People who like films and stars of that era, from the 1920s on through the 1950s, I think, would like to have such a personally-written account of some of the highlights of an actress’s life. Most picture us all as rich and famous and never hear of another side. I’ve even thought of the title:
–Excerpt of a letter from Joyce Compton to Michael G. Ankerich, 27 January 1988
The Real Joyce Compton: Behind the Dumb Blonde Movie Image. Sound good? It’s a thought.”
The Real Joyce Compton: Behind the Dumb Blonde Movie Image is the story that Joyce Compton, one of the screen’s finest comediennes and most versatile actresses, wanted told.
Her career, which consisted of an estimated 200 films, stretched from 1925 to 1957. Breaking into films during the silent era, she appeared in a string of ingénue roles, imagining herself as a new Mae Murray, but it was after the beginning of sound that Compton found her niche in comedy.
In her own words, she recounts her frustrations over studio politics and shares her experiences of working and socializing with such screen favorites as Clara Bow, Cary Grant, Marlene Dietrich, Joel McCrea, George O’Brien, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Johnny Mack Brown, Janet Gaynor, and George Raft.
Compton opens up about her often overly protective parents, her off-screen romances, her one heartbreaking attempt at marriage, her deep religious faith, and her struggle to support her family after her film career ended.
With candor and insight that only someone who was there can share, Compton discusses the transition from silents to talkies; working with incompetent directors in those early sound movies; living on locations; the competition she experienced with the “star” actresses of the studio; freelancing versus working under a studio contact; and the day-to-day life of an actress working in early Hollywood.
The Real Joyce Compton begins with a biography of the actress, written by co-author Michael G. Ankerich, based on formal interviews, conversations, and correspondence over their 10-year friendship. The book also contains a detailed filmography of Compton’s film appearances and is lavishly illustrated with over 80 photographs, many of which are from Compton’s own personal collection.
Joyce Compton died in 1997.