Joan Crawford

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Joan Crawford

Crawford in 1949
photograph by Yousuf Karsh
BornLucille Fay LeSueur
(1905-03-23)March 23, 1905
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
DiedMay 10, 1977(1977-05-10) (aged 72)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of deathHeart attack
Resting placeFerncliff Cemetery
OccupationActress
Years active1925–1972
Spouse(s)Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
(m.1929-1933; divorced)
Franchot Tone
(m.1935-1939; divorced)
Phillip Terry
(m.1942-1946; divorced)
Alfred Steele
(m.1955-1959; his death)
ChildrenChristina (born 1939)
Christopher (1943–2006)
Cynthia (1947–2007)
Cathy (born 1947)
RelativesThomas E. LeSueur (father, 1868–1938)
Anna Bell Johnson (mother, 1884–1958)
Hal LeSueur (brother, 1901–1963)
Signature
 
Jump to: navigation, search
Joan Crawford

Crawford in 1949
photograph by Yousuf Karsh
BornLucille Fay LeSueur
(1905-03-23)March 23, 1905
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
DiedMay 10, 1977(1977-05-10) (aged 72)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of deathHeart attack
Resting placeFerncliff Cemetery
OccupationActress
Years active1925–1972
Spouse(s)Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
(m.1929-1933; divorced)
Franchot Tone
(m.1935-1939; divorced)
Phillip Terry
(m.1942-1946; divorced)
Alfred Steele
(m.1955-1959; his death)
ChildrenChristina (born 1939)
Christopher (1943–2006)
Cynthia (1947–2007)
Cathy (born 1947)
RelativesThomas E. LeSueur (father, 1868–1938)
Anna Bell Johnson (mother, 1884–1958)
Hal LeSueur (brother, 1901–1963)
Signature

Joan Crawford (March 23, 1905 – May 10, 1977),[1][2] born Lucille Fay LeSueur, was an American actress in film, television and theatre.

Starting as a dancer in traveling theatrical companies before debuting on Broadway, Crawford was signed to a motion picture contract by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1925. Initially frustrated by the size and quality of her parts, Crawford began a campaign of self-publicity and became nationally known as a flapper by the end of the 1920s. In the 1930s, Crawford's fame rivaled MGM colleagues Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo. Crawford often played hardworking young women who find romance and financial success. These "rags-to-riches" stories were well received by Depression-era audiences and were popular with women. Crawford became one of Hollywood's most prominent movie stars and one of the highest paid women in the United States, but her films began losing money and by the end of the 1930s she was labeled "box office poison".

After an absence of nearly two years from the screen, Crawford staged a comeback by starring in Mildred Pierce (1945), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1955, she became involved with the Pepsi-Cola Company through her marriage to company Chairman Alfred Steele. After his death in 1959, Crawford was elected to fill his vacancy on the board of directors but was forcibly retired in 1973. She continued acting in film and television regularly through the 1960s, when her performances became fewer; after the release of the British horror film Trog in 1970, Crawford retired from the screen. Following a public appearance in 1974, after which unflattering photographs were published, Crawford withdrew from public life and became more and more reclusive until her death in 1977.

Crawford married four times. Her first three marriages ended in divorce; the last ended with the death of husband Al Steele. She adopted five children, one of whom was reclaimed by his birth mother. Crawford's relationships with her two older children, Christina and Christopher, were acrimonious. Crawford disinherited the two and, after Crawford's death, Christina wrote a "tell-all" memoir, Mommie Dearest, in which she alleged a lifelong pattern of physical and emotional abuse perpetrated by Crawford.

Crawford was voted the tenth greatest female star in the history of American cinema by the American Film Institute.

Contents

Early life

Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur in San Antonio, the third child of Tennessee-born Thomas E. LeSueur (1868–1938), a laundry laborer of English, French Huguenot and Jersey ancestry,[3] and Anna Bell Johnson (1884–1958), who was of Swedish and Irish descent. Her older siblings were Daisy LeSueur, who died very young, and Hal LeSueur. Thomas LeSueur abandoned the family a few months before Crawford's birth. He reappeared in Abilene, Texas in 1930 as a 62-year-old construction laborer on the George R. Davis House, built in Prairie School architecture.[4]

Crawford's mother subsequently married Henry J. Cassin. The family lived in Lawton, Oklahoma, where Cassin ran a movie theater. Crawford was unaware that Cassin was not her birth father until her brother Hal told her.[5] The 1910 federal census for Comanche County, Oklahoma, enumerated on April 20, showed Henry and Anna living at 910 "D" Street in Lawton. Crawford was listed as five years old, thus showing 1905 as her likely year of birth. However, the state of Texas did not require the filing of birth certificates until 1908, allowing Crawford to claim she was born in 1908.

Crawford preferred the nickname "Billie" as a child and she loved watching vaudeville acts perform on the stage of her stepfather's theater. The instability of her family life affected her education and her level of schooling never really progressed beyond the fourth grade.[6] Her ambition was to be a dancer. However, in an attempt to escape piano lessons to run and play with friends, she leaped from the front porch of her home and cut her foot deeply on a broken milk bottle. Crawford had three operations and was unable to attend elementary school for a year and a half. She eventually fully recovered and returned to dancing.

Around 1916, Crawford's family moved to Kansas City, Missouri. Cassin was first listed in the City Directory in 1917, living at 403 East Ninth Street. While still in elementary school, Crawford was placed in St. Agnes Academy, a Catholic school in Kansas City. Later, after her mother and stepfather broke up, she stayed on at St. Agnes as a work student. She then went to Rockingham Academy, also as a work student. She later claimed the headmaster's wife there beat her and forged her grades to hide the fact that young Lucille spent far more time working, primarily cooking and cleaning, rather than being able to study academically. While attending Rockingham she began dating and had her first serious relationship, with a trumpet player named Ray Sterling. It was Sterling who reportedly inspired her to begin challenging herself academically.[7] In 1922, she registered at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, giving her year of birth as 1906. Crawford attended Stephens for only four months before withdrawing after she realized she was not prepared for college.

Career

Early career

Upper body studio shot of a young Crawford in a sleeveless dress, with accented eye make-up, coiffed hair. She is staring into the camera.
Joan Crawford in 1928

Under the name Lucille LeSueur, Crawford began dancing in the choruses of traveling revues and was spotted dancing in Detroit by producer Jacob J. Shubert.[6][8] Shubert put her in the chorus line for his 1924 show, Innocent Eyes, at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway in New York City. While appearing in Innocent Eyes Crawford met a saxophone player named James Welton. The two were allegedly married in 1924 and lived together for several months, although this supposed marriage was never mentioned in later life by Crawford.[9] She wanted additional work and approached Loews Theaters publicist Nils Granlund. Granlund secured a position for her with producer Harry Richmond's act and arranged for her to do a screen test which he sent to producer Harry Rapf in Hollywood.[10] Stories have persisted that Crawford further supplemented her income by appearing in one or more stag, or soft-core pornographic, films,[9] although this has been disputed.[11] Rapf notified Granlund on December 24, 1924 that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had offered Crawford a contract at $75 a week. Granlund immediately wired the 19-year-old LeSueur – who had returned to her mother's home in Kansas City – with the news; she borrowed $400 for travel expenses.[12] The night after Christmas she left Kansas City and arrived in Culver City, California on January 1, 1925.

As Lucille LeSueur, her first film was The Circle in 1925, followed by Pretty Ladies, starring ZaSu Pitts. Also in 1925 she appeared in small roles in the films The Only Thing and Old Clothes. MGM publicity head Pete Smith recognized her ability but felt that her name sounded fake; it also, he told studio head Louis B. Mayer, sounded like "Le Sewer". Smith organized a contest in conjunction with the fan magazine Movie Weekly to allow readers to select her new name. Initially the name "Joan Arden" was selected but, when another actress was found to have prior claim to that name, the alternate name "Crawford" became the choice.[13] Crawford initially wanted her new first name to be pronounced "Jo-anne". She hated the name Crawford, saying it sounded like "crawfish". Her friend, actor William Haines, quipped, "They might have called you 'Cranberry' and served you every Thanksgiving with the turkey!"[14] Crawford continued to dislike the name throughout her life but, she said, she "liked the security that went with it".[15]

Self-promotion and early successes

Growing increasingly frustrated over the size and quality of the parts she was given, Crawford embarked on a campaign of self-promotion. As MGM screenwriter Frederica Sagor Maas recalled, "No one decided to make Joan Crawford a star. Joan Crawford became a star because Joan Crawford decided to become a star."[16] She began attending dances in the afternoons and evenings at hotels around Hollywood, where she often won dance competitions with her performances of the Charleston and the Black Bottom.[17]

with John Gilbert in a 1928 film

Her strategy worked, and MGM cast her in the film where she first made an impression on audiences, Edmund Goulding's Sally, Irene and Mary (1925). She played Irene, a struggling chorus girl. In the same year, Crawford worked on Lady of the Night, starring Norma Shearer. Crawford was made up and used as a double for Shearer and her face is briefly seen. Crawford coveted the roles that Shearer played but knew that Shearer's husband, producer Irving Thalberg, guaranteed Shearer first choice of roles in any MGM property. "How can I compete with Norma?" Crawford was quoted as saying. "She sleeps with the boss."[18]

The following year, Crawford was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars, along with Mary Astor, Mary Brian, Dolores Costello, Dolores del Río, Janet Gaynor and Fay Wray. For the next two years, Crawford appeared in increasingly important films. In 1926, she made Paris, where she was able to show her sex appeal. She became the romantic interest for some of MGM's leading male stars, among them Ramón Novarro, William Haines, John Gilbert and Tim McCoy. Crawford appeared in The Unknown (1927), starring Lon Chaney, Sr. who played a carnival knife thrower with no arms. Crawford played his skimpily clad young carnival assistant whom he hopes to marry. She stated that she learned more about acting from watching Chaney work than from anything else in her career. "It was then", she said, "I became aware for the first time of the difference between standing in front of a camera, and acting.".[19] Also in 1927, she appeared alongside her good friend, William Haines in Spring Fever, it would be the first of three films in which they worked together.

In 1928, Crawford starred opposite Ramón Novarro in Across to Singapore, but it was her role as Diana Medford in Our Dancing Daughters (1928) that catapulted her to stardom. The role established her as a symbol of modern 1920s-style femininity that rivaled the image of her friend Clara Bow, the original IT girl, who was Hollywood's foremost flapper. A stream of hits followed Our Dancing Daughters, including two more flapper-themed movies, in which Crawford embodied for her legion of fans (many of whom were women) an idealized vision of the free-spirited, all-American girl. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of her:[20]

Joan Crawford is doubtless the best example of the flapper, the girl you see in smart night clubs, gowned to the apex of sophistication, toying iced glasses with a remote, faintly bitter expression, dancing deliciously, laughing a great deal, with wide, hurt eyes. Young things with a talent for living.

On June 3, 1929, Crawford married Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. at Saint Malachy's Roman Catholic Church in New York City, although neither apparently was Catholic.[21] Fairbanks was the son of Douglas Fairbanks and the stepson of Mary Pickford, who were considered Hollywood royalty. Fairbanks Sr. and Pickford were opposed to the marriage and did not invite the couple to their home, Pickfair, for eight months after the marriage. The relationship between Crawford and Fairbanks, Sr. eventually warmed; she called him "Uncle Doug" and he called her "Billie".[22] Following that first invitation, Crawford and Fairbanks, Jr. became more frequent guests, which was hard on Crawford. While the Fairbanks men played golf together, Crawford was left either with Pickford or alone.[23]

To rid herself of her Southwestern accent, Crawford tirelessly practiced diction and elocution. She said:[24]

If I were to speak lines, it would be a good idea, I thought, to read aloud to myself, listen carefully to my voice quality and enunciation, and try to learn in that manner. I would lock myself in my room and read newspapers, magazines and books aloud. At my elbow I kept a dictionary. When I came to a word I did not know how to pronounce, I looked it up and repeated it correctly fifteen times.

Her first talkie was Untamed (1929), opposite Robert Montgomery, which was a box office success. Crawford made an effective transition to sound movies. One critic wrote, "Miss Crawford sings appealingly and dances thrillingly as usual; her voice is alluring and her dramatic efforts in the difficult role she portrays are at all times convincing."

From Queen of the Movies to box office poison

Crawford in Rain (1932)

With the early sound film, Our Blushing Brides (1930), another financial success, MGM began to develop a more sophisticated image of Crawford, rather than continuing to promote her flapper girl persona of the silent era.[25] In 1931, she starred opposite Clark Gable in Possessed. They began an affair during the production, resulting in an ultimatum from studio chief Louis B. Mayer to Gable that the affair end. Gable complied, although for many years their affair resumed sporadically and secretly. Upon release, Possessed was an enormous hit.

The studio then cast her in Grand Hotel, which starred the most famous actors of the 1930s and was MGM's most prestigious movie of 1932. Crawford later achieved continued success with Letty Lynton (1932). Soon after its release, a plagiarism suit forced MGM to withdraw it. It has never been shown on television or made available on home video, and is therefore considered the "lost" Crawford film. The film is mostly remembered because of the "Letty Lynton dress", designed by Adrian: a white cotton organdy gown with large ruffled sleeves, puffed at the shoulder. It was with this gown that Crawford's broad shoulders began to be accentuated by costume. Macy's copied the dress in 1932, and it sold over 500,000 replicas in the United States.[26]

With Wallace Beery in Grand Hotel (1932)

In May 1933, Crawford divorced Fairbanks. Crawford cited "grievous mental cruelty"; "a jealous and suspicious attitude" toward her friends and "loud arguments about the most trivial subjects" lasting "far into the night".[27] Following Possessed, Crawford starred opposite Gable in the hit Dancing Lady (1933), in which she received top billing. Crawford's next movies, Sadie McKee, Chained and Forsaking All Others (all 1934), were among the top money makers of the mid-1930s.

In 1935, Crawford married her second husband, Franchot Tone, a stage actor from New York who planned to use his film salary to finance his theatre group. Tone and Crawford appeared together in Today We Live (1933) and were immediately drawn to each other, although Crawford was hesitant about entering into another romance so soon after her split from Fairbanks.[28] The couple built a small theatre at Crawford's Brentwood home and put on productions of classic plays for select groups of friends.[29] Before and during their marriage, Crawford worked to promote Tone's Hollywood career but Tone was ultimately not interested in being a movie star and Crawford eventually wearied of the effort.[30] Tone began drinking and physically abusing Crawford and she filed for divorce, which was granted in 1939.[31] Crawford and Tone eventually reconciled their friendship and Tone even proposed in 1964 that they remarry. When Tone died in 1968, Crawford arranged for him to be cremated and his ashes scattered at Muskoka Lakes, Canada.[32]

The Motion Picture Herald placed Crawford on its list of the top-ten moneymaking stars from 1932, the first year of the poll, through 1936 and Life magazine proclaimed her "First Queen of the Movies" in 1937.[33] Later in 1937 she dropped out of the top ten for the first time. In 1938 the Independent Film Journal named her and several other stars as "box office poison" based on their supposed lack of popular appeal.[34] However, Crawford made a comeback with her role as home-wrecker Crystal Allen in director George Cukor's The Women in 1939. She broke from formula by taking the unglamorous role of Julie in Strange Cargo (1940), her eighth and final film with Gable. Crawford then starred as a facially disfigured blackmailer in A Woman's Face (1941), a remake of a European film which had starred Ingrid Bergman in the lead role three years earlier. While the film was only a moderate box office success, her performance was hailed by many critics.

Crawford adopted her first child, a daughter, in 1940. Because she was single, California law prevented her from adopting within the state so she arranged the adoption through an agency in Las Vegas. The child was temporarily called Joan until Crawford changed her name to Christina. She married actor Phillip Terry on July 21, 1942 after a six-month courtship.[35] Together the couple adopted a son whom they named Christopher, but his birth mother reclaimed the child. They adopted another boy, whom they named Phillip Terry, Jr. After the marriage ended in 1946, Crawford changed the child's name to Christopher Crawford. After 18 years, Crawford's contract with MGM was terminated by mutual consent on June 29, 1943. In lieu of one more movie owed under her contract, MGM bought her out for $100,000. During World War II she was a member of American Women's Voluntary Services.[36]

Move to Warner Bros.

Crawford, now well established as one of Hollywood's most important stars, was set for a sea-change in career terms. For $500,000, Crawford signed with Warner Bros. for a three movie deal and was placed on the payroll on July 1, 1943. She also made a cameo with many other stars in the G.I. morale-booster Hollywood Canteen (1944). Crawford said one of the main reasons she signed with Warner Bros. was because she wanted to play the character "Mattie" in a proposed 1944 film version of Edith Wharton's novel Ethan Frome (1911).

Face shot of Crawford; her hair is up and her expression somewhat sad.
Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce (1945)

Crawford wanted to play the title role in Mildred Pierce (1945), but Bette Davis was the studio's first choice. However, Davis turned the role down. Director Michael Curtiz did not want Crawford and told Jack Warner, "She comes over here with her high-hat airs and her goddamn shoulder pads... why should I waste my time directing a has-been?"[37] Curtiz demanded Crawford prove her suitability by taking a screen test. After the test, Curtiz agreed to Crawford's casting. Crawford starred opposite Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden, Ann Blyth and Butterfly McQueen. Mildred Pierce was a resounding critical and commercial success. It epitomized the lush visual style and the hard-boiled film noir sensibility that defined Warner Bros. movies of the later 1940s, earning Crawford the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

From 1945 to 1952, Crawford reigned as a top star and respected actress, appearing in such roles as Helen Wright in Humoresque (1946), Louise Howell Graham in Possessed (1947, for which she was nominated for a second Oscar for Best Actress) and the title role in Daisy Kenyon (also 1947). She also made a cameo appearance in It's a Great Feeling (1949), in which she poked fun at her own screen image. Other movie roles of the era include Lane Bellamy in Flamingo Road (1949); a role in the violent film noir The Damned Don't Cry (1950), and the title role of Harriet Craig (1950), a movie which she herself claimed during a David Frost interview, reflected her own brand of control freakery - a movie made at Columbia Pictures. After filming This Woman Is Dangerous (1952), Crawford asked to be released from her Warner Bros. contract. In 1952, she appeared in RKO's Sudden Fear. The role earned Crawford a third and final Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

Crawford, as the compulsive homemaker and with a powerful need to love and be loved, adopted two more children in 1947, identical twins whom she named Cindy and Cathy.[38]

Radio and television

Crawford worked in the radio series The Screen Guild Theater on January 8, 1939; Good News; Baby, broadcast March 2, 1940 on Arch Oboler's Lights Out; The Word on Everyman's Theater (1941); Chained on the Lux Radio Theater and Norman Corwin's Document A/777 (1948). She appeared in episodes of anthology television series in the 1950s and, in 1959, made a pilot for her series, The Joan Crawford Show,

Al Steele and Pepsi Cola Company

Crawford married her final husband, Alfred Steele, at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas on May 10, 1955.[39] Crawford and Steele met at a party in 1950 when Steele was an executive with Coca-Cola. They renewed their acquaintance at a New Year's Eve party in 1954. Steele by that time had become the President of Pepsi Cola.[40] Alfred Steele would later be named Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Pepsi Cola. Crawford traveled extensively on behalf of Pepsi following the marriage. She estimated that she traveled over 100,000 miles for the company.[2] Steele died of a heart attack in April 1959. Crawford was initially advised that her services were no longer required. After she told the story to Louella Parsons, Pepsi reversed its position and Crawford was elected to fill the vacant seat on the board of directors.[41] Crawford, left near-penniless following Steele's death,[42] accepted a supporting role in the film The Best of Everything (1959). It was her first non-starring role in her later career.

Crawford received the sixth annual "Pally Award", which was in the shape of a bronze Pepsi bottle. It was awarded to the employee making the most significant contribution to company sales. In 1973, Crawford was forcibly retired from the company at the behest of company executive Don Kendall, whom Crawford had referred to for years as "Fang."[43]

Later career

After her role in RKO's Sudden Fear, Crawford appeared in films ranging from the camp western film Johnny Guitar (1954) to the drama Autumn Leaves (1956), opposite a young Cliff Robertson, a movie which showed Crawford in a great many kissing scenes which shocked some audiences. By the early 1960s, however, Crawford's status in motion pictures had diminished.

Crawford starred as Blanche Hudson, an old, wheelchair-bound former A-list movie star in conflict with her psychotic sister, in the highly successful psychological thriller What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962). Despite the actresses' earlier tensions, Crawford suggested Bette Davis for the role of Jane. The two stars maintained publicly that there was no feud between them. However, Crawford later accused Davis of kicking her during the filming of one scene in which Jane attacks Blanche; Crawford reportedly retaliated by wearing weights under her clothes during a scene in which Davis had to carry her.[44] The director, Robert Aldrich, explained that Davis and Crawford were each aware of how important the film was to their respective careers and commented, "It's proper to say that they really detested each other, but they behaved absolutely perfectly."[45] After filming was completed, their public comments against each other propelled their animosity into a lifelong feud. The film became a huge success, recouping its costs within 11 days of its nationwide release, and temporarily revived Crawford's career. Davis was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Jane Hudson. Crawford secretly contacted each of the other Oscar nominees in the category (Katharine Hepburn, Geraldine Page and Anne Bancroft, all East Coast-based actresses), to let them know that if they could not attend the ceremony, she would be happy to accept the Oscar on their behalf; all agreed. Both Davis and Crawford were backstage when the absent Anne Bancroft was announced as the winner, and Crawford accepted the award on her behalf. Davis claimed for the rest of her life that Crawford campaigned against her, a charge Crawford denied. That same year, Crawford starred as Lucy Harbin in William Castle's horror mystery Strait-Jacket (1964).

Director Robert Aldrich cast Crawford and Davis in Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964). After a campaign of harassment by a ruthlessly bullying Davis while the film was on location in Louisiana, Crawford returned to Hollywood and entered a hospital. After a prolonged absence in which Crawford was accused of feigning illness, Aldrich was forced to replace her with Olivia de Havilland. Crawford was devastated, saying "I heard the news of my replacement over the radio, lying in my hospital bed", Crawford said. "I wept for 39 hours."[46] Crawford nursed grudges against Davis and Aldrich for the rest of her life, saying of Aldrich, "He is a man who loves evil, horrendous, vile things." (to which Aldrich replied, "If the shoe fits, wear it, and I am very fond of Miss Crawford.")[46]

The following year Crawford played the role of Amy Nelson in I Saw What You Did (1965), another William Castle vehicle. She starred as Monica Rivers in Herman Cohen's horror thriller film Berserk! (1967). After the film's release, Crawford guest-starred as herself on The Lucy Show. The episode, "Lucy and the Lost Star", first aired on February 26, 1968. Crawford struggled during rehearsals and drank heavily on-set, leading series star Lucille Ball to suggest replacing her with Gloria Swanson. Crawford was letter-perfect the day of the show and received two standing ovations from the studio audience.[47]

In October 1968, Crawford's 29-year-old daughter, Christina (who was then acting in New York on the CBS TV soap opera The Secret Storm), needed immediate medical attention for a ruptured ovarian tumor. Until Christina was well enough to return, Crawford offered to play her role, to which producer Gloria Monty readily agreed. Although Crawford did well in rehearsal, she lost her composure while taping and the director and producer were left to struggle to piece together the necessary footage.[48]

Crawford's appearance in the 1969 TV film Night Gallery (which served as pilot to the series that followed), marked one of Steven Spielberg's earliest directing jobs. She starred on the big screen one final time, playing Dr. Brockton in Herman Cohen's science fiction horror film Trog (1970), rounding out a career spanning 45 years and over 80 motion pictures. Crawford made three more TV appearances, as Stephanie White in an episode of The Virginian (1970), entitled "The Nightmare"[49]; as a special guest who performed in multiple sketches on The Tim Conway Comedy Hour (also in 1970) [50]; and as Joan Fairchild (her final performance) on an episode of the television series, The Sixth Sense, entitled, "Dear Joan: We're Going To Scare You To Death" (1972)[51].

Final years and death

In 1970, Crawford was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award by John Wayne at the Golden Globes, which was telecast from the Coconut Grove at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. She also spoke at her alma mater, Stephens College, from which she never graduated.

Crawford published her autobiography, A Portrait of Joan – written with Jane Kesner Ardmore – in 1962 through Doubleday. Crawford's next book, My Way of Life, was published in 1971 by Simon and Schuster. Those expecting a racy tell-all were disappointed, although Crawford's meticulous ways were revealed in her advice on grooming, wardrobe, exercise, and even food storage.

Crawford was active in various Democratic causes along with longtime friend Myrna Loy. Upon her death there was found in her apartment photographs of John F. Kennedy, whom she voted for in the 1960 presidential election.[52]

In September 1973, Crawford moved from apartment 22-G to the smaller apartment 22-H in the Imperial House. Her last public appearance was September 23, 1974, at a party honoring her old friend Rosalind Russell at New York's Rainbow Room. Russell was suffering from breast cancer and arthritis at the time. When Crawford saw the unflattering photos of both stars that appeared in the papers the next day, she said, "If that's how I look, then they won't see me anymore."[53] Crawford cancelled all public appearances, began declining interviews and left her apartment less and less. Her dental-related issues, including surgery which left her in need of round the clock nursing care, also plagued her from 1972 until the middle of 1975. While on antibiotics for this problem in October 1974, Crawford's drinking caused her to black out, slip and strike her face. This incident scared her enough to give up drinking and smoking, although in public she insisted it was due to her return to Christian Science. The whole incident is recorded in a series of letters sent to her insurance company held at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, as well as being documented by her friend, Carl Johnnes, in his book.[54]

On May 8, 1977, Crawford gave away her beloved Shih Tzu "Princess Lotus Blossom", which she was too weak to care for properly.[55] Crawford died two days later at her New York apartment from a heart attack, while also ill with pancreatic cancer.[2] A funeral was held at Campbell Funeral Home, New York, on May 13, 1977. In her will, which was signed October 28, 1976, Crawford bequeathed to her two youngest children, Cindy and Cathy, $77,500 each from her $2,000,000 estate. She explicitly disinherited the two eldest, Christina and Christopher, writing "It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son Christopher or my daughter Christina for reasons which are well known to them."[56]

A memorial service was held for Crawford at All Souls' Unitarian Church on Lexington Avenue in New York on May 16, 1977, and was attended by, among others, her old Hollywood friend Myrna Loy. Another memorial service, organized by George Cukor, was held on June 24 in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, California. Crawford was cremated and her ashes placed in a crypt with her last husband, Alfred Steele, in Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York.[57]

Crawford's hand and footprints are immortalized in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1750 Vine Street. In 1999, Playboy listed Crawford as one of the "100 Sexiest Women of the 20th century", ranking her #84.

Mommie Dearest

In November 1978, a year and a half after Crawford's death, Christina published Mommie Dearest, which contained allegations that Crawford was emotionally and physically abusive to Christina and her brother Christopher. Many of Crawford's friends and co-workers, including Van Johnson, Ann Blyth, Marlene Dietrich, Myrna Loy, Cesar Romero, Gary Gray, Crawford's first husband, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Crawford's other daughters, Cathy and Cindy, denounced the book, categorically denying any abuse.[58] But others, including Betty Hutton, Helen Hayes,[59] James MacArthur,[60][61] June Allyson,[62] Liz Smith,[60] and Rex Reed[60] stated that they had witnessed abuse. Bette Davis supported Christina's version, saying that Christina could not have made it up (Davis, while still alive, would later become the target of her own daughter B. D. Hyman's tell-all in 1985, My Mother's Keeper).[63] Mommie Dearest became a bestseller and was made into the 1981 film Mommie Dearest, starring Faye Dunaway as Crawford. Dunaway would later express regret for her portrayal of Crawford in her autobiography, Looking for Gatsby, believing that her career had been damaged by the portrayal and at the hands of Crawford's friends.

Filmography

Notes

  1. ^ For most of her life, Crawford maintained that she was born in 1908. San Antonio birth records are not available earlier than 1910. The 1905 date is based on the 1910 U.S. Census, where she was listed as five years old. The Social Security Death Index uses the birth date of March 23, 1908. Crawford gave this date when she applied for Social Security in California, but applicants were not required to show documentation for the date of birth unless they applied for age-based Social Security retirement benefits.
  2. ^ a b c "Joan Crawford Dies at Home; Joan Crawford, Screen Star, Dies in Manhattan Home". New York Times. May 11, 1977, Wednesday. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0323.html. Retrieved August 21, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Famous Jersey People". Famous People. Jersey Tourism. http://jersey.com/English/aboutjersey/history/famouspeople/Pages/default.aspx. Retrieved October 2, 2011. 
  4. ^ Donald S. Fracier, Robert F. Pace, and photographer Steve Butman, Abilene Landmarks: An Illustrated Tour, Abilene, Texas: State House Press, 2008, pg. 41
  5. ^ Newquist, pg. 25
  6. ^ a b Denby, David, "Escape Artist, The Case for Joan Crawford", The New Yorker, January 3, 2011
  7. ^ Thomas, pgs. 23–24
  8. ^ Thomas, pg. 30
  9. ^ a b Considine, pg. 12
  10. ^ Granlund, pg. 147
  11. ^ Thomas, pg. 106
  12. ^ Granlund, pg. 135
  13. ^ Thomas, pg. 42
  14. ^ Haines, quoted in Thomas, pg. 43
  15. ^ Crawford, quoted in Newquist, pg. 31
  16. ^ Maas, quoted in LaSalle, pg. 123
  17. ^ Thompson, pg. 47
  18. ^ Crawford, quoted in LaSalle, pg. 120
  19. ^ Crawford, quoted in Skal, pg. 73
  20. ^ Fitzgerald, quoted in Thomas, pg. vii
  21. ^ "Joan Crawford Weds in the East". Jefferson City MO Daily Capital News. June 4, 1929. 
  22. ^ Thomas, pg. 80
  23. ^ Thomas, pg. 63
  24. ^ Crawford, quoted in Thomas, pg. 65
  25. ^ Hay, Peter (1991), MGM: When the Lion Roars, Atlanta: Turner Publishing, Inc., p. 72, ISBN 1-878685-04-X 
  26. ^ Leese, pg. 18
  27. ^ "U.S.". Time. March 8, 1933. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,745463,00.html. Retrieved February 10, 2009. 
  28. ^ Thomas, pg. 94
  29. ^ Considine, pgs. 91–92
  30. ^ Thomas, pg. 114
  31. ^ Considine, pgs. 97–98
  32. ^ Thomas, pg. 241
  33. ^ Thomas, pg. 113
  34. ^ Thomas, pg. 115
  35. ^ "Joan Crawford Weds Actor Phillip Terry". Lubbock (TX) Morning Avalanche (UP): p. 11. July 22, 1942. 
  36. ^ Quirk, Lawrence J. (2002). Joan Crawford: the essential biography. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press. p. 124. ISBN 0-8131-2254-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=_yQtRavDvtUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=crawfrod+quirk&cd=1#v=snippet&q=volunteer&f=false. 
  37. ^ Curtiz, quoted in Thomas, pg. 136
  38. ^ Day, Elizabeth (May 25, 2008). "I'll never forgive Mommie". Guardian UK (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2008/may/25/biography.film. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  39. ^ "Joan Crawford Is Wed in Las Vegas to Businessman". Moberly (MO) Monitor-Index and Democrat. Associated Press: p. 8. May 10, 1955. 
  40. ^ Thomas, pg. 190
  41. ^ Considine, pg. 286
  42. ^ "'I'm Broke, Says Joan Crawford". Jefferson City (MO) Post-Tribune. Associated Press: p. 1. June 1, 1959. 
  43. ^ Quirk, Lawrence; Schoell (2002). Joan Crawford: the essential biography. Twenty-First Century Books. pp. 312. ISBN 0-8131-2254-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=_yQtRavDvtUC&pg=RA3-PA246&lpg=RA3-PA246&dq=Joan+Crawford+fang#v=onepage&q=fang&f=false. 
  44. ^ Considine, pgs. 316–17
  45. ^ Considine, ibid.
  46. ^ a b Considine, pg. 363
  47. ^ Thomas, pg. 231
  48. ^ Thomas, pgs. 238–39
  49. ^ "Joan Crawford In "The Virginian" Part 1 of 8". YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKOJL6lrHQI. Retrieved October 6 2012. 
  50. ^ "Joan Crawford On The Tim Conway Comedy Hour (1970)". YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKszktzFcco. Retrieved October 6 2012. 
  51. ^ "Joan Crawford on The Sixth Sense". YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIrPtI_uD_Q. Retrieved October 6 2012. 
  52. ^ Cowie, Peter Joan Crawford: The Enduring Star (Rizzoli Universe Promotional Books, March 8, 2011) pages 204 – 205
  53. ^ Considine, pg. 396
  54. ^ Carl Johnnes. Joan Crawford: The Last Years. Dell Publishing. ISBN 0-440-11536-1. 
  55. ^ Thomas, pg. 266
  56. ^ Crawford will, quoted in Thomas, pg. 263
  57. ^ Crawford, Joan. "Joan Crawford's Final resting Place". Find A Grave. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=242. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  58. ^ Considine, pg. 412
  59. ^ Hayes, Helen; Hatch, Katherine (1990). My Life in Three Acts. Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 0-15-163695-8. 
  60. ^ a b c Redbook v. 165, Redbook Publishing, Inc. p. 25. OCLC 1763595.
  61. ^ Strouse, Jean (1978). "Mommie Monster" Newsweek: Volume 92, Issues 10–18. p. 134.
  62. ^ Allyson, June; Leighton, Frances Spatz (1983). June Allyson. New York: Berkley. pp. 77–84. ISBN 0-425-06251-1. 
  63. ^ Considine, pg. 413

References

  • Considine, Shaun (1989). Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud. New York, E. P. Dutton, a division of Penguin Books. ISBN 0-525-24770-X.
  • Bret, David (2006). Joan Crawford: Hollywood Martyr. Robson. ISBN 1-86105-931-0.
  • Granlund, Nils T. (1957). Blondes, Brunettes, and Bullets. New York, David McKay Company.
  • Hoefling, Larry J. (2008). Nils Thor Granlund: The Swedish Showman Who Invented American Entertainment. Inlandia Press. ISBN 0-9822313-0-X.
  • LaSalle, Mick (2000). Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood. New York, Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-25207-2.
  • Dunaway, Faye (1998). Looking For Gatsby. Pocket. ISBN 0-671-67526-5.
  • Leese, Elizabeth (1991). Costume Design in the Movies. Dover Books. ISBN 0-486-26548-X.
  • Newquist, Roy, with introduction by John Springer (1980). Conversations with Joan Crawford. New Jersey, Citadel Press, a division of Lyle Stuart, Inc. ISBN 0-8065-0720-9.
  • Skal, David J. (1993). The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-024002-0.
  • Thomas, Bob (1978). Joan Crawford: A Biography. New York, Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-12942-2.
  • Carr, Larry (1970). Four Fabulous Faces:The Evolution and Metamorphosis of Swanson, Garbo, Crawford and Dietrich. Doubleday and Company. ISBN 0-87000-108-6. 

Further reading

External links