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Joan Crawford Biography

crawford2Joan Crawford was born on March 23, 1905 in San Antonio, Texas.  Her real name was Lucille Fay Le Sueur and she used another name of Billie Cassin while appearing in a Charleston contest which she won leading her to a modest dancing career in Detroit and Chicago nightclubs. She was spotted in a Broadway chorus line by Harry Rapf of MGM who invited her to Hollywood and offered her a contract. To choose a name for her to use in film MGM sponsored a nation wide contest. With her new name she started in silent films and soon became a flapper rival to Clara Bow.  In the late 30’s and early 40’s she became the epitome of Tinseltown glamour.  However, there was a period during the late 1930’s where she, along with several other actresses, was labeled “box office poison”.

She was released from her MGM contract in 1943 and moved over to Warner Brothers where she became a true star, winning an Oscar in 1945 for her work in Mildred Pierce, 1945.  By the 50’s she was playing mature women often involved with younger men.  In the early 60’s she appeared with her rival, Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, 1962.  She and Davis were reported to have fought during the whole production of this film and their feud caused world wide publicity.

She was married five times and three of her husbands were actors, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Franchot Tone, and Philip Terry.  She then married a Pepsi-Cola executive, Alfred Steele, and became active as a board member and publicity executive for Pepsi.  She wrote two memoirs, A Portrait of Joan, 1962 and My Way of Life, 1971.  She died on May 10, 1977 and her reputation was forever marred by her adopted daughter, Christina who wrote a biography portraying her mother as cruel, Mommie Dearest, 1978. Personally, I don’t know what the real truth is so, this site pertains and is only interested in the Joan Crawford who brought so much enjoyment to millions by her acting abilities.

Read the special posts we made during Joan’s month as “Favorite of the Month for July 2015 related to her life:

Joan’s Husbands – she was married five times:

  • Alfred Steele (1955 – April 1959) (widowed)
  • Phillip Terry (1942 – 1946) (divorced)
  • Franchot Tone (1935 – 1939) (divorced)
  • Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (1929 – 1933) (divorced)
  • James Welton (1923 – 1924) (divorced)

Joan Crawford with her car

 Trivia

  • Quit Stephens College, a posh university for women in Columbia, Missouri, in the early 1920s.
  • Worked as an elevator operator at Harzfeld’s department store in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Each time Joan Crawford married, she changed the name of her Brentwood estate and installed all new toilet seats.
  • Interred at Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York, USA.
  • Was asked to take over Carole Lombard‘s role in “They All Kissed The Bride” after she died in a air crash during a war bond tour. She then donated all of her salary to the Red Cross who found Lombard’s body, and promptly fired her agent for taking his usual 10%.
  • She was so dedicated to her fans that she always personally responded to her fan mail by typing them responses on blue paper and autographing it. A great deal of her spare time and weekends were spent doing this.
  • After her friend Steven Spielberg hit it big, Joan sent him periodic notes of congratulations. The last one came two weeks before her death.
  • She taught director Steven Spielberg how to belch while filming their episode of Night Gallery.
  • Cartoonist Milton Caniff claimed he created the character of “Dragon Lady” for his popular “Terry and the Pirates” comic strip, based on Joan Crawford.
  • At the time of her death, the only photographs displayed in her apartment were of Barbara Stanwyck and the late President John F. Kennedy.

This trivia information is here courtesy of IMDB. Please visit their site.

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