1904-77                               Actress

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      Born Lucille Fay LeSueur on 23 March in San Antonio, Texas, USA


      Changes name to Billie Cassin


      Winning an amateur dance contest in 1923 leads to chorus work in Chicago, Detroit and New York. Marries James Welton


      Divorces Welton


      A Photoplay contest led to the name Joan Crawford


      Her role in Our Dancing Daughters makes her a star


      Marries Douglas Fairbanks Jr.


      Divorces Fairbanks Jr.


      Marries Franchot Tone


      Appears in The Women. Divorces Tone


      Marries Phillip Terry


      Wins Oscar for role in Mildred Pierce


      Divorces Terry


      Marries Alfred Steele


      Husband Alfred Steele dies


      Appears in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?


      Dies 10 May of pancreatic cancer in New York, USA



    1. We're Going to Scare You to Death (1975)
    2. Beyond the Water's Edge (1972) (TV)
    3. Journey to Murder (1972)
    4. Trog (1970)

      Night Gallery (1969) (TV)

    5. "The Secret Storm" (1954) TV Series (1968) (temporary replacement for Christina Crawford)
    6. Journey Into Midnight (1968)
    7. Berserk! (1968)
    8. The Karate Killers (1967)
    9. I Saw What You Did (1965)
    10. Della (1964)
    11. Strait-Jacket (1964)
    12. The Caretakers (1963)
    13. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
    14. The Foxes (1961) (TV)

    15. The Best of Everything (1959)
    16. Woman on the Run (1959) (TV)
    17. The Story of Esther Costello (1957)
    18. Autumn Leaves (1956)
    19. Queen Bee (1955)
    20. Female on the Beach (1955)
    21. Johnny Guitar (1954)
    22. Torch Song (1953)
    23. Sudden Fear (1952)
    24. This Woman Is Dangerous (1952)
    25. Goodbye, My Fancy (1951)
    26. Harriet Craig (1950)
    27. The Damned Don't Cry (1950)

    28. Flamingo Road (1949)
    29. Daisy Kenyon (1947)
    30. Possessed (1947)
    31. Humoresque (1946)
    32. Mildred Pierce (1945)
    33. Above Suspicion (1943)
    34. Reunion in France (1942)
    35. They All Kissed the Bride (1942)
    36. When Ladies Meet (1941)
    37. A Woman's Face (1941)
    38. Susan and God (1940)
    39. Strange Cargo (1940)

    40. The Women (1939)
    41. Ice Follies of 1939 (1939)
    42. The Shining Hour (1938)
    43. Mannequin (1937)
    44. The Bride Wore Red (1937)
    45. The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937)
    46. Love on the Run (1936)
    47. The Gorgeous Hussy (1936)
    48. I Live My Life (1935)
    49. No More Ladies (1935)
    50. Forsaking All Others (1934)
    51. Chained (1934)
    52. Sadie McKee (1934)
    53. Dancing Lady (1933)
    54. Today We Live (1933)
    55. Rain (1932)
    56. Letty Lynton (1932)
    57. Grand Hotel (1932)
    58. Wir schalten um auf Hollywood (1931)
    59. Possessed (1931)
    60. This Modern Age (1931)
    61. Laughing Sinners (1931)
    62. Dance, Fools, Dance (1931)
    63. Great Day (1930)
    64. Paid (1930)
    65. Our Blushing Brides (1930)
    66. Montana Moon (1930)

    67. Untamed (1929)
    68. Our Modern Maidens (1929)
    69. The Duke Steps Out (1929)
    70. Tide of Empire (1928)
    71. Dream of Love (1928)
    72. Our Dancing Daughters (1928)
    73. Four Walls (1928)
    74. Across to Singapore (1928)
    75. Rose-Marie (1928)
    76. The Law of the Range (1928)
    77. West Point (1928)
    78. Spring Fever (1927)
    79. Twelve Miles Out (1927)
    80. The Unknown (1927)
    81. The Understanding Heart (1927)
    82. The Taxi Dancer (1927)
    83. Winners of the Wilderness (1927)
    84. Paris (1926)
    85. The Boob (1926)
    86. Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (1926/I)
    87. Sally, Irene and Mary (1925)
    88. The Only Thing (1925) (uncredited)
    89. Old Clothes (1925)
    90. The Midshipman (1925) (uncredited)
    91. The Circle (1925) (uncredited)
    92. The Merry Widow (1925) (uncredited)
    93. A Slave of Fashion (1925) (uncredited)
    94. Pretty Ladies (1925)
    95. Proud Flesh (1925) (uncredited)



      'I need sex for a clear complexion, but I'd rather do it for love'


      5' 4" (1.63 m)




Joan Crawford, 1948
Yosuf Karsh

    Joan Crawford (Lucille Fay Le Sueur)
    (1904-77), b. San Antonio, Texas

      One year after Joan Crawford's death, her
      adopted daughter Christina published
      Mommie Dearest; in another three years,
      that book had been brought to the screen,
      without any effort to balance or challenge
      the injured daughter's point of view.

    In the movie, Faye Dunaway offered a brilliant but lynching impersonation in which startling resemblance overwhelmed tougher tests of character credibility. And so Joan Crawford has passed into myth as a demented martinet whose greatest need or belief concerned padded clothes hangers. Mommie Desert is, arguably, the most influential Hollywood memoir ever published. It changed the way publishers, readers, stars, and ghosts approached such volumes; and it pushed home the growing awareness that "Hollywood" was only a bad movie where lives were played out in the chiaroscuro of "camp."

    I am not questioning the gist of what Christina Crawford had to say—the history of child abuse in the movie world is all too rich (even if most of the abuse is in spoiling), and well worth telling as a corrective to the burnished advertising with which Hollywood has regularly marketed the ideas of home and family. Still, Mommie Dearest threatens to obscure the real story of Joan Crawford; in turning her into nothing but a witch, it loses the fascinating ordeal and tragedy of her career. Remember that in wanting to adopt and possess perfect children (and in believing in perfect children), she was doing her best to live up to the crackpot ideology she had done so much to illustrate.

    If nothing else, Crawford was the living and movie example of how a woman from very lowly, if not shady, places could triumph in that version of the American class system known as Hollywood royalty. Crawford sought to be an egalitarian heroine, standing up for herself among nobs, snobs, foreigners, and allegedly classy, educated actresses. For she was a star at MGM to rival Garbo, Norma Shearer, Jeanette MacDonald, Katharine Hepburn, Myrna Loy, and Lassie. Crawford was from hot, Latino Texas; her name had changed—her parents were a touch mysterious—and there was no end to the nasty stories about the things she had done to get ahead.

    That same Joan Crawford sought class, respectability, respect, and her terrific struggle to get there is one of the great career stories in pictures. Maybe the effort unhinged her; surely she behaved badly; and clearly her work deteriorated. But her Hollywood lost confidence long before she did, and she had to become strident and exaggerated. In the best Crawford films, she has the eye of aspiration and of a sweet hope that clothes, makeup, and position will mask all compromises made on the way: she was as Texan as Lyndon Johnson, as insecure and as close to caricature. And in films called Possessed, Sadie McKee, Mannequin The Women, Mildred Pierce, Daisy Kenyon, Harriet Craig, Johnny Guitar, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, there is a career as interesting as politics.

    Her parents were divorced before or soon after her birth and the mother remarried Harry Cassin, owner of a vaudeville theatre-for a time thereafter she was known as Billie Cassin. At the age of six, she spent a year in bed after an accident to her foot. Two years later her mother and stepfather separated. The family traveled and the daughter's education suffered. In her teens, she wanted to be a dancer and she worked as a shopgirl to take lessons and enter dance competitions. She got small nightclub jobs before J. J. Shubert hired her for the Broadway chorus of Innocent Eyes in 1924. Spotted by Harry Rapf, in 1925 she was put under contract by MGM and made her debut in Pretty Ladies (Monta Bell). MGM organized a magazine contest to find her a new name and "Joan Crawford" was the winner. Her first films involved her in small, dancing parts but she won more attention in Sally, Irene and Mary (25, Edmund Goulding), played opposite Harry Langdon in Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (26, Harry Edwards), and had her first big success in Our Dancing Daughters (28, Harry Beaumont). She was the epitome of the flapper, but already marked for unhappiness.

    Strongly backed by Louis B. Mayer, she became one of MGM's leading ladies: Paid (30, Sam Wood); Dance, Fools, Dance (31, Beaumont), the first of several appearances with Clark Gable; Possessed (31, Clarence Brown); Grand Hotel (32, Goulding), from which she emerged more creditably than Garbo, one of her chief rivals at MGM; and Dancing Lady (33, Robert Z. Leonard). Despite a failure as Sadie Thompson in Lewis Milestone's Rain (32), she made the transition to more sophisticated parts: Howard Hawks's Today We Live (33); Sadie McKee (34) and Chained (34), both for Clarence Brown; No More Ladies (35, Edward H. Griffith); I Live My Life (35, W. S. Van Dyke); and The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (37, Richard Boleslavsky and George Fitzmaurice). She still played women tainted by humble origins and blighted in love.

    The similarity of parts led to a crisis, and by 1938 she was considered box-office poison. She was restored by two Frank Borzage films, Mannequin (38) and The Shining Hour (38), and by Cukor's The Women (39), a picture that emphasized her glamorous hardness, her social disqualification, and her eventual failure in romance. After Strange Cargo (40, Borzage), Susan and God (40, Cukor), and A Woman's Face (41, Cukor), her career again slumped and in 1943 she left MGM.

    Despite signing with Warners, she made no film for almost two years and even took singing lessons with opera in mind. Jerry Wald asked her to return in Mildred Pierce (45, Michael Curtiz)—her first film as a mother, which was built around her capacity for suffering and won her an Oscar. Securing her image of a middle-aged career woman, she made Humoresque (47, Jean Negulesco), was very good having a breakdown in Possessed (47, Curtis Bernhardt), and Daisy Kenyan (47, Otto Preminger), the latter one of her most controlled and touching performances. But her suffering became more bizarre—in Flamingo Road (49, Curtiz) and This Woman Is Dangerous (52, Felix Feist) she ended up in jail. In Harriet Craig (50, Vincent Sherman), she was outstanding and prescient as a domestic perfectionist. David Miller's Sudden Fear (52) involved her in genuine menace, beset by the youthful Jack Palance, but in Torch Song (53, Charles Walters) she had only blind-pianist Michael Wilding as a feed.

    As she grew fiercer, so her films and male stars seem to have become weaker. In 1954, she made Johnny Guitar for Nicholas Ray, and it was all Sterling Hayden could do to stand up to her in recriminating dialogues. And in 1957 she was the horrified guardian of a raped girl in The Story of Esther Costello (Miller). Only Robert Aldrich subsequently rescued her from dross—in Autumn Leaves (56) and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (62), which reflects more on her life in movies than on Bette Davis's. Not content with that ordeal, she went on to more grotesque horrors, chiefly in the hands of William Castle: Strait Jacket (64) and I Saw What You Did (65).

    Much of her fictional agony was borne out in reality. After a series of failed marriages—to Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Franchot Tone, and Philip Terry—and several miscarriages, she adopted four children and, in 1955, married Alfred Steele, the chairman of Pepsi-Cola. After his death, in 1959, she became the first female director of the company and its official hostess. Her career is that of a preeminent star, digesting poor material and impressing her own image on everything. Always rising to good directors and stories, she is most herself in pulp, staring out at us with savage mouth and rueful eyes. As such, she is an icon in a woman's magazine dreamworld—as one character refers to her in Torch Song, a "gypsy madonna." Scott Fitzgerald captured its monolithic fierceness: "She can't change her emotions in the middle of a scene without going through a sort ofJekyll and Hyde contortion of the face. . . . Also, you can never give her such a stage direction as 'telling a lie,' because if you did, she would practically give a representation of Benedict Arnold selling West Point to the British." In truth, she could do much more: she was a pioneer of tough, hurt feelings—until that cause made her too bitter.


Joan Crawford | Gallery

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Joan Crawford
Signature Collection
5 Disc Set incl.
Mildred Pierce, Grand Hotel, Humoresque
Possessed, The Damned Don't Cry

UK Dvd Set Reviewed & in Stock
The best Crawford boxset ... ever!

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