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Joan Crawford Visits Southern Illinois

New Marion Soft Drink Plant Opens


By Wanda Barras of the Southern Illinoisan

September 21, 1969


[downloaded 7/7/14 from the Marion Illinois History Preservation site]


“There she is” … “oh, I see her” tumbled from the crowd as Joan Crawford radiant in the morning sun stepped upon the platform.

Miss Crawford, dressed in a subdued gray suit with matching hat, moved gracefully across the stage, waving, smiling at the more than 400 people who had come to the dedication ceremony of the new Pepsi-Cola plant west of Marion.

Harry Crisp, Sr. president of Marion Pepsi Cola Bottling Co., Harry Crisp Jr., vice president and general manager, James B. Sommerall, president and chief executive officer of Pepsi-Cola Co., Paul Powell, Illinois Secretary of State and other Pepsi Cola officials attended the ceremonies at the plant on Old Rt. 13 at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Enter Real Fan

The Crisps, Sommerall and Miss Crawford, a member of the board of directors of Pepsi-Cola Co. and Frito-Lay Inc., popped the cap off a Pepsi bottle with a giant golden bottle opener to officially dedicated the plant.

Following the ceremony, a member of the crowd surged forward climbing over television cables and beverage cases, to mount the stage where Miss Crawford chatted.

Cuddled within her arms the woman carried an aging scrap book filled with Miss Crawford’s pictures.

Miss Crawford, with golden red hair flying in the breeze, looked through the book with Mrs. Gladys Halterman of Jonesboro, recalling gala moments of the past.

Miss Crawford embraced the graying woman who had been a fan for over 40 years.

Mrs. Halterman ripped her stockings enroute to the stage, but after talking with Miss Crawford, she exclaimed “Oh, it was worth it.”

Opening Ceremonies

The plant occupies approximately 20 acres and served 26 counties in Southern Illinois. About 180 people are employed. The plant produces seven flavors of soft drink beverages.

Following the dedication service a tour of the new plant was conducted. At 11 a.m. a public open house with free beverages and Frito-Lay products was held. Public tours also were conducted.

Ceremonies at the plant begin Friday with a news conference at 1:30 p.m. with Miss Crawford, the Crisps, and Sommerall.

The Pepsi officials came into the conference room with Miss Crawford leading the way. When Miss Crawford slipped into a cushioned chair, she discovered the gray suit fell below her knee. She made the necessary adjustments.

Talking of her entrance into the business world after her husband’s death, Miss Crawford said she had no difficulty in transition from her movie career into the business world.


Miss Crawford said she found it “delicious” being the only woman on the board of directors.

But in spite of Miss Crawford’s business life, the conference discussion kept returning to Miss Crawford, the movie star.

Miss Crawford talked of her latest movie, “Trogo.” [sic] Filmed in London, the movie is Miss Crawford’s 84th.

In the film, Miss Crawford stars as a lady scientist who captures a half-man, half-ape and “trains him like a human.”

“Society screams and yells but society is the real monster,” she said.

In discussing obscenity in movies, Miss Crawford blamed foreign producers for the greatest violations.

The veteran movie star said, “Sex is a personal and beautiful thing” and she doesn’t get any kicks from seeing it published in film.

Getting back to business for a moment, Miss Crawford said more and more doors are opening in the business world for woman but it still can “get rough.”

Speaking, however, for herself, she said, “Oh I don’t know, I haven’t had any problems.”

Crawford opens giant Pepsi bottle at the new plant's

dedication ceremony Sept. 19, 1969



Harry Crisp, Sr., Joan Crawford and Harry Crisp, Jr. at

September 1969 Pepsi plant opening ceremony




Crawford talks with local fan Gladys Halterman at plant dedication




Photo of Miss Crawford published in

Marion Daily Republican on Sept. 19, 1969