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Chemist Edward Faraday marries German cabaret singer Helen and the couple settles in the United States, where they have a son, Johnny. Years later, Ned develops radium poisoning and must travel to Europe to receive treatment, but cannot afford the trip. Helen, therefore, goes to work for nightclub manager Dan O'Connor, who gives her the name "Blonde Venus" and features her in his act. At Helen's debut, she enchants politician and millionaire Nick Townsend, who gives her the three-hundred dollars Ned needs. Helen tells Ned the money was an advance from O'Connor, and the next day Ned sails for Europe for six months. Nick convinces Helen to quit the club and let him support her for the summer. When Ned arrives home early, cured of his illness, Helen is on vacation with Nick. After Helen confesses her infidelity, Ned demands custody of Johnny. Helen runs away with Johnny, moving from town to town trying to get work in cabarets, while the Bureau of Missing Persons tracks her. In New Orleans, when Helen can no longer work because the authorities have circulated her picture in clubs all over the country, she gives Johnny up to Ned. Within a year after being reduced to staying in a women's flophouse, Helen has become a sensation in Paris nightclubs under the name Helen Jones. There she meets Nick again, who has heard rumors that Helen used men as a stepping stone to stardom. He swears his love to her, but she is cold to him. The next day, the couple sails for America as newspaper headlines announce that Helen is forfeiting Parisian success to marry a New York millionaire. Before they can marry, however, Nick insists that Helen see Johnny again, knowing that the boy is her only true happiness. When they arrive at the Faraday home, Ned refuses to let Helen inside until Nick offers to "buy" Helen a visit with Johnny. Ned refuses the bribe, but allows her in. Helen puts Johnny to bed, and he asks for the story of how his parents met. Reluctantly Ned and Helen tell it, but without the usual happy ending. When Helen sings Johnny to sleep, she asks Ned if she may stay with them both, and he says it is where she belongs.