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The Separation of Joan and Doug


by Katherine Albert

Originally appeared in Modern Screen, May 1933



It has happened!


And for the next few months you will be seing dozens of stories about Joan and Dougīs separation. Each writer will have his own opinion. Each story will give you a different reason. But here--the first magazine story to mention the separation as an actuality-- you will find the complete and absolute truth; the real reason for the parting of these two people. I have been wanting to write this story for months. I, as one of Joan Crawford`s best friends, have known things which my loyality to her prevented me telling. But they can all be told--now that it has happened!


First of all--the cold, hard facts!


Doug has moved away from their Brentwood home. Joan remains at that house. There will be no divorce at present, because neither of them wants to remarry. It is a legal separation. They have talked the matter over like the lady and the gentleman they are and have come to the agreement as the only way out.


And now for the story behind these vital statistics--what is it?


The trouble has been brewing for months. Remember when Joan and Doug went to Europe in July, before there was even a hint of discontent? That trip was made for a purpose. It was a last fling--an attempt to revive the thing that they saw going--their happiness. Before their European trip they were on the verge of separation. They thought perhaps if they could get away from Hollywood, have a swell time together, be free of the work that drives them both so hard--the nervous, exciting work--they might be happy again. They came back rested. They had a grand time. They thought that they once more could make a go of it. Joan developed a sense of humor. She could look at it more calmly. But the trip to Europe was only a drug that deadened pain. It did not remove the cause of the trouble and back in Hollywood it all began all over again.


It has come so slowly--their drifting apart--that it is impossible to put your finger on any one set of circumstances to blame for. They had simply gotten on each otherīs nerves. Remember how young they were when they married. Remember how much each has changed. And donīt forget that they both give much of themselves to the camera they serve. Joan likes to be alone when she has finished a dayīs intensive work. She has one of the most remarkable minds I have ever known and she likes to think--by herself. Doug is a gregarious person He enjoys people--spritely, amusing people, it is true--but he does want people around. Doug can throw off the dayīs work in a way Joan never can. When she has done a terrifically devastating scene in the afternoon she is devasted for the rest of the day. Doug can come home and chat.


Who can say which way is best? They are merely different ways, but I do know that this tremendous difference in temperament has caused much of their unhappiness.


Once, while they were still making that vaillant effort to revive the love that they saw slipping away from them daily, Joan suggested that they go away together for a weekend--just the two of them--to talk things over. Doug agreed. But by the time the weekend arrived three or four other people had been invited to go along. Doug had asked them. Joan and Doug did not go away on that weekend trip.


They have, during the last two years, grown apart temperamentally. When they were married, Doug was a dreamy, poetic youth. He has changed into a sophisticated man of the world. Joan during the years of their marriage, has more and more sought simplicity. Today her friends not only include the important people of Hollywood, but also a boy in the publicity department, the younger actors on the lot, a few underpaid writers and a script clerk as well.


And that brings us to Joanīs friends. She still has a number of women friends--Claudette Colbert, Ann Harding, Helen Hayes, Doris Warner. It is the hey-hey girl friends of another period in her life who have not lived up to Joanīs intense brand of loyalty. Her closest friends are men--for Joan thinks as a man.


She has danced and laughed with Ric Cortez, Bob Young, Alexander Kirkland, Franchot Tone (one of her newest leading men). Of course this has all been grist for the gossip mill. But what the gossipers have failed to record is the fact that never has she been alone with any of these men on the dancing parties. Either Douglas or a party of other people have been along.When Joan is `between pictures` she loves to laugh and she has a amazing sense of the ridiculous.She has found laughter with these bright and amusing boys.


Oh, she has tried to solve her problem. She has wandered through the rooms of her beautiful home trying to think out every angle of the break with Douglas that was bound to come.Naturally, she thought of her career. What would such a break do to her as an actress? Two people in private life grow apart and get on each otherīs nerves and they separate. But after such an important separation as this there is bound to be a storm of gossip, and Joan knew that she would be blamed for it.


But she knew that in remaining together they were not being fair to each other.


They talked the matter over quite calmly.


Seated in the quiet luxury of their enormous living room Joan said, `You know, Douglas, that we have to face facts. You know that we canīt go on like this--pretending to be happy when weīre not.`


`I know it,`said Doug, `It is not fair to you nor to me. We have given it every trial.`


And that was how they decided to separate.


`But weīll be friends?` Joan asked.


`I couldnīt stand to lose your friendship`, said Doug.


`And you never will.`


And on that note they parted.


But remember this and this is the absolute truth.


There is no other man in Joanīs life!


There is no other woman in Dougīs!


Had there been they certainly would have chosen to get a divorce instead of this separation.Perhaps one or the other will say that it is a temporary separation--but that is not true. It is final--and there is never any going back with a woman like Joan. For remember that this is not so sudden as it seems to you. Remember that this has been coming on for months. They have tried--and tried hard-- to make a go of it.


But it just wouldnīt work.


And how does Doug Senior feel about it?


Before they made their final decision they talked it over with Doug, Sr. He is a wise and a kindly man and he said, `If you two kids canīt be happy together, then there is just one thing for you to do.`


And theyīve done it.


Of course, Joan will get the brunt of it all. Of course, the envious will be saying, `Sure, we knew Crawford is just reverting to type.` Joan knew this, too, and it has given her many sleepless nights. That is why the separation has been postponed longer than it should have been for the peace of mind of both.


But Joan is brave enough and true enough to stand that gossip. She is big enough to face it--like the girl she is.


As I said before you`ll be hearing and reading plenty of bunk about those two--but this is the absolute truth!


[Thanks to Susanne for this article.]

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