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Books About Joan Crawford

Joan signing copies of her autobiography 'A Portrait of Joan' on the set of 'Baby Jane.' 

Below is a list of Joan biographies (and related books, such as paper doll collections, letters, etc.). Click on a yellow link to go directly to the book's description. (The descriptions follow the main list, and include cover photos, when available.)

If you have a review of any of the below Joan books that you'd like to share, please e-mail me. Feel free to include a star-rating (with 5 stars the best).

 

In addition to this page, you can also visit three other book pages on this site:

 

Books Related to Joan Movies

Books with Joan Mentions

Our Book Reviews

 

Fill in Joan's name in the Google Book Search below to find an extensive list of books both about Joan and with Joan mentions. For many of the books, you'll be able to see actual pages.

 

Google Book Search

 

Books About Joan List

Click on a title to see its description and photo below.

 

Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud (Shaun Considine, 1989)

Conversations with Joan Crawford (Roy Newquist, ed., 1980)

Crawford's Men (Jane Ellen Wayne, 1988)

Crawford: The Last Years (Carl Johnes, 1979)

The Films of Joan Crawford (Lawrence J. Quirk, 1968)

Jazz Baby (David Houston, 1983)

Joan Crawford (ed. Silvio Berlusconi)

Joan Crawford (Stephen Harvey, 1974)

Joan Crawford: A Biography (Bob Thomas, 1978)

Joan Crawford: The Enduring Star  (Peter Cowie, 2009)

Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography (Lawrence J. Quirk, William Schoell, 2002)

Joan Crawford: Her Life in Letters (Michelle Vogel, 2005)

Joan Crawford: Hollywood Martyr  (David Bret, 2006)

Joan Crawford: The Last Word (Fred Lawrence Guiles, 1995)

Joan Crawford Paper Dolls (Marilyn Henry, 1996)

Joan Crawford Paper Dolls in Full Color (Tom Tierney, 1983)

Joan Crawford: The Raging Star (Charles Castle, 1977)

Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Star (Alexander Walker, 1983)

Joan Crawford: Uma Homenagem (Walter Machado, 1994)

Just Joan: A Joan Crawford Appreciation (Donna Marie Nowak, 2010)

Legends: Joan Crawford (John Kobal, ed., 1986)

Mommie Dearest and Mommie Dearest Books on Cassette (Christina Crawford: 1978/1997, 1986)

My Way of Life (Joan Crawford, 1971)

Noches de Joan Crawford: 12 Cuentos Argentinos (various authors, 1996)

Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, a Personal Biography (Charlotte Chandler, 2008)

A Portrait of Joan (JC, with Jane Kesner Ardmore, 1962)  

Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford  (Donald Spoto, 2010)

Books About Joan Descriptions

Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud (1989, E.P. Dutton) Shaun Considine

 

US hardcover, 1st edition.     US paperback.    Unknown edition.    Kindle eBook edition. June 2011.

 

UK first edition hardcover.    UK hardcover.    UK paperback.

 

Description: Parallel bios of the two divas, and how their alleged "feud" began and continued. Lots of dish, with interesting backstory info on the making of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

 

Sample Text:
As filming of Baby Jane continued, embellishments to the characters and plot were added by both stars. While Blanche was being starved to death by her evil sister, Joan lost weight in some areas of her body. As the hollows in her cheeks grew deeper and her waist grew smaller, he breasts became larger.

"Christ!" said Bette. "You never know what size boobs that broad has strapped on! She must have a different set for each day of the week! She's supposed to be shriveling away, but her tits keep growing. I keep running into them, like the Hollywood Hills."

 

 Click here for a reader review.

 

 


 

US first edition hardcover.Conversations with Joan Crawford (1980, Citadel Press) Roy Newquist

Description: Author Newquist interviewed Joan for a magazine but before the articles could be published, she passed away. This book is an uncensored compilation of those conversations. Includes Joan's frank (and sometimes humorous) opinions of each of her films up until What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? ("...everything afterwards was just trash," she says).

 

Sample Text:
R.N.:
What do you think of the films being produced today as contrasted to the films you made?

Crawford: You're asking me to compare peas and beans. The films are so different, for the most part, there's no comparison. There are exceptions, but not many. In my day we made films that had class. Today, if class sneaks into a picture, it's by accident. I'm of the old school, and proud of it. I find suggestion a hell of a lot more provocative than explicit detail. You didn't see Clark and Vivien rolling around in bed in Gone with the Wind, but you saw that shit-eating grin on her face the next morning and you knew damned well that she'd gotten properly laid. I watched the picture a few months ago, on television, and everyone with me got the same chuckle out of it we got when it was first released. The impact was stronger because of the subtlety.

 

 

 


 

US paperback.Crawford: The Last Years (1979, US PB Dell) Carl Johnes

Description: Johnes was a young movie exec initially sent by Columbia as a favor to help Joan sort out her book collection. The two became friends and remained so from 1974 'til her death in '77. Johnes' recollections of their times together are honest and humorous.

Sample Text:
"Pick up your dice."
Firmly.
"Honey, please look at your board."
With despair.
"Oh, for God's sake! Protect that man! Like that!"
Violently.
"That. Is A. Point. How many more times do I have to tell you that a six and a one is a point! Now move it!"
Controlled fury.
"A five! And a three! You copycat, you!"
Girlishly.
Well, I learned. Between intimidation on East Sixty-Ninth street and a paperback book of instructions (co-authored, coincidentally, by John Crawford; I was being Crawfordized from every direction), I had a new pastime and an unusual playmate, to say the least. To give her just due, however, I must say that when she was particularly unfair, or lost her cool (like screaming across the table "I know you don't have my peripheral vision, but you're not blind, are you Carl!"), she would usually call the next day and apologize.

Above: Collector Charles Triplett wrote Carl Johnes an appreciative letter after this book came out, and received the above response from the author. (Thanks to Charles for permission to reproduce the letter here.)

 


 

US first edition hardcover.Crawford's Men (1988, HC Prentice Hall; PB St. Martin's Press) Jane Ellen Wayne

Description: An overview of Joan's relationships with the many men (and women) in her life. Largely based on other bios, with little new info (aside from the interesting preface Wayne writes about meeting Joan). Book also annoyingly uses made-up dialogue. 

Sample Text:
But the day Joan found her husband with another woman, she was shattered despite her cool at the studio. Always the star, she composed herself magnificently. If Franchot was having an affair, every member of the crew knew about it, and Joan would never allow anyone to feel sorry for her. After she was beyond the studio gates, tears of hate burned down her face; she drove to the beach. "I didn't love him anymore," she said. "It was as simple as that. The minute I saw him with another woman, whatever I felt for him was gone."

 

 

 


 

1968 softcoverThe Films of Joan Crawford (1968, Citadel Press) Lawrence J. Quirk

Description: An overview of almost every major film Joan appears in (up to Berserk!) Each film is given a detailed synopsis and a reprint of the press reviews given at the time each film was released. The book also includes black and white publicity photos from each film. (Note: This book was re-issued in 1988; the new edition includes info on Joan's 1970 film Trog.)

Sample Text:
Certainly she has aged gracefully and has kept up her vital interest in the world around her. She continues to live by such long-held personal codes as "Frustrations are to work through, and even if you fail, the trying enriches you" and "Turn pressure into a challenge and enjoy it." Doubtless, it is the optimistic, courageous philosophy that these codes imply that had made her at age sixty one of the most respected women in both film and business circles.

 

 


 

 

US first edition hardcover.Jazz Baby (1983, St. Martin's Press) David Houston

Description: The true story of Joan's childhood, which was often ignored or changed when she became a star. Author David Houston pieces together the little-known facts about Joan's early life and her rise to stardom from numerous interviews with the people who knew her family. This book deals primarily with Joan's life up until 1925 and includes a few pages of photos including her College yearbook photo from 1922-23, a picture of the Cassin home, Rockingham Academy, and St. Agnes Academy.

Sample Text:
This is the story of the raw material, of little Billie Cassin, an eccentric child lacking ordinary confidence who, Joan Crawford claimed, always lingered inside her. "When I'm tired," she said in a 1955 interview, "Billie's child voice, Southern Accent and all, rises again in my throat. When I need tears for a big emotional scene in a picture, I catch back some of her memories!"

 

 

 


 

 

Joan Crawford (CIAK publishers, Italy)  ed. Silvio Berlusconi

 

Description: Softcover, 128 pages, photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Joan Crawford (1974, Pyramid) Stephen Harvey

Description: Part of the Pyramid Illustrated History of the Movies series, this volume focuses primarily on Joan's film career from her first film to Trog with some mentions made to her personal life during the films. The book is filled with various publicity photos from her films including one from the aborted Hush...Hush Sweet Charlotte.

Sample Text:
...Considering that Joan Crawford was an indisputable star long before the majority of living Americans were born, it must seem to many that as long as there have been movies there has been Crawford, as accomplished and unmistakable a personality fifty years ago as she is today. As present-day audiences watch her films, they see an actress whose grasp of her skills may vary from film to film, but who undeniably possesses in full measure that ill-defined gift called star quality. Surely she always had it; one can't imagine Crawford as ever having been an ordinary and anonymous as the audience that for years genuinely worshipped her, and still regards her with affection and more than a little awe.

 


 

US first edition hardcover.Joan Crawford: A Biography (1978, Simon and Schuster) Bob Thomas

Description: A thorough and detailed biography of Joan Crawford. Thomas knew Joan for 30 years and conducted many interviews with her.

Sample Text:
On the morning of May 10, 1977, Joan insisted on getting out of bed to make breakfast for the housekeeper and the longtime fan, who had both stayed overnight. Joan returned to the bedroom to begin watching her soap operas, and she called to the two women to make sure they were eating the breakfast she had prepared. Then she died.

 

 

 

 


 

 

Joan Crawford: The Enduring Star (2009, Rizzoli)

Peter Cowie

 

Description:  226 pages, 213 photos (with accompanying text). Intro by Mick LaSalle; afterword by George Cukor.

 

Click here for a reader review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

US first edition hardcover.Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography (2002, Univ. Press of Kentucky) Lawrence J. Quirk, William Schoell

 

Description:

Sample Text:

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Joan Crawford: Her Life in Letters (2005, Wasteland Press) Michelle Vogel

 

Description: Letters from Joan, accompanied by photos, with a foreword by Joan grandson Casey LaLonde.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Joan Crawford:  Hollywood Martyr  (UK: 2006, Robson)  David Bret

 

Description:  From the inside jacket:  "...[author Bret] discusses...her marriages--three of them to gay men--and her obsessions with rough sex. Bret divulges...how her loathed mother forced Crawford to work as a prostitute, appear in pornographic films and sleep her way to the top...."

 

Click here for a reader review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

US first edition hardcover.UK first edition hardcover.Joan Crawford: The Last Word (US: 1995,
Birch Lane Press; UK: 1995, Pavillion)
Fred Lawrence Guiles

Description: From the dust jacket: "Meticulously researched, Joan Crawford: The Last Word deals in full with her long movie career and explores in detail her turbulent private life. Respected biographer Fred Lawrence Guiles uses newly discovered sources and recent interviews with many who knew her, and some who loved her, to establish the person behind the carefully crafted screen icon."

Sample Text:
Whatever one may think of Mommie Dearest, its effect upon Joan Crawford's memory and reputation has been calamitous. In fact, the result has been to ensure that Joan Crawford will never become another Hollywood legend such as Marilyn Monroe, Clara Bow or Jean Harlow. Christina succeeded in this on a level that she may not have anticipated.

 

 

 


 

Joan Crawford Paper Dolls (1996, B. Shackman & Co.) Marilyn Henry

 

Description: Two 9-inch paper dolls, with 27 outfits plus accessories

 

    

 

    

 

 

 


 

Joan Crawford Paper Dolls in Full Color (1983, Dover) Tom Tierney

Description: 32 pages. From the back: "Fashion Illustrator has captured Miss Crawford in three lifelike paper dolls, representing three distinct phases in her long screen career, and twenty-eight meticulously rendered costumes from as many films, including Pretty Ladies, Grand Hotel, Rain, Letty Lynton, The Gorgeous Hussy, The Bride Wore Red, The Women, Mildred Pierce, Humoresque, Johnny Guitar, Female on the Beach, I Saw What You Did and Berserk!

This collection, a tribute to a striking beauty and magnetic actress, is also a salute to the many talented costume designers - Adrian, Milo, Anderson and Sheila O'Brien, to name a few - who made Hollywood a fashion house. Miss Crawford's many fans, fashion enthusiasts, as well as paper doll collectors will welcome this Tom Tierney effort."

 


 

 

Joan Crawford: The Raging Star (1977, New English Library) Charles Castle

 

Description:

Sample Text:

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Star (1983, Harper & Row) Alexander Walker

Description: An analysis of Joan's life and career, with an emphasis on the years Joan spent at MGM. Author Walker had unlimited access to previously unreleased information stored in the MGM vaults and peppers the text of this book with that information, along with anecdotes from Joan's friends and peers. Filled with numerous black-and-white publicity photos and film stills.

Sample Text:
Crawford also underwent a disconcerting physical change during these years. The contours of her face, understandable altering with the onset of middle-age, began to reassert themselves in a strikingly aggressive fashion. Her features became more pronounced, more masculine, suggesting some radical disturbance taking place in her metabolism, upset perhaps by the tensions of life and melodrama of her movie roles. With her hollowed-out cheeks, her accentuated eyebrows, her eyeballs almost starting out of their sockets, her mouth (by no means outside in itself) which she now enlarged to rapacious extremes by obliterating its natural outline with heavily applied lipstick, she came to resemble the only known picture of her father, Thomas Le Sueur, who had fled the family circle before she had been born.

 


 

 

Joan Crawford: Uma Homenagem (1994, Artes Graficas Formato--Brazil) Walter Machado

 

Description: 747 pages, illustrated. In Portuguese. Title translates as: "An Homage."

 

Sample Text:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Just Joan: A Joan Crawford Appreciation (2010, Bear Manor Media) Donna Marie Nowak

 

Description: 580 pp. Reviews, essays, photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Legends: Joan Crawford (1986, Little, Brown and Co.) John Kobal, ed.

Description: From the back of the book: "The Hollywood portrait photographers were responsible for turning mere mortals into myths. Only recently, following the revival of interest in still photography, have their achievements become recognized as an art form. John Kobal, the editor of this series, has lovingly and meticulously collected the work of the studio photographers and has one of the leading libraries of film photographs in the world, from which the portraits for this volume has been selected. The Legends series forms an instant and compelling collection of classic stars and magnificent images."

 

 

 


 

Mommie Dearest (1978, William Morrow; 20th Anniversary Ed.: 1997, Seven Springs Press)  Christina Crawford

US 1978.  US 20th anniversary ed.  Italy, 1979.  UK hardcover.

Description: Joan's adopted daughter Christina Crawford published this book in 1978, a year after her mother's death. Christina details the allegedly erratic and violent behavior and treatment of her mother towards Christina and her brother Christopher. A 20th-anniversary edition was released in 1997 by Christina's vanity press. It contains 100 pages of new material.

Sample Text:
I was sound asleep in my bed when Mother burst into my room. She was already yelling as she hauled me out of bed. Before I was fully awake she had dragged me by one arm down the hallway that connected her suite of rooms with ours. Through the double doors I stumbled as she shoved me ahead of her. I had no idea what was wrong or where we were going, but I was now wide awake. When we arrived in her dressing room it began to dawn on me what was happening.

 


 

 

Mommie Dearest: Books on Cassette (1986, Listen for Pleasure, Inc.)  Christina Crawford

 

Description: An audio version of the infamous book written by Joan's adopted daughter Christina Crawford shortly after her death in 1977. In this three hour abridged version, Christina herself narrates the book. This two-tape audio book also includes a portion of the 1949 Christmas Eve performance in which Joan is heard telling the world that she plans to give away all of the children's Christmas presents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

US first edition hardcover. Click to see larger picture of cover.My Way of Life (1971, Simon and Schuster. In UK, published in '72 by W.H. Allen) Joan Crawford

Description: From the back of the book: "Joan Crawford shows you how to get more out of life...your work...your play...your clothes...your looks...your home...your marriage. A great film star tells of her glamorous life and shares her secrets for successful living."

The book basically gives you an overview of Joan's thoughts on how the modern woman (of the early seventies) can survive in a man's world and still remain appealing. The book is littered with asides about her life, both past and present, and therefore almost acts as an autobiography (which some have claimed is better than her
A Portrait of Joan). There are numerous photos within the book of Joan in her later years and her Manhattan apartment.

Sample Text:
People are always asking me if there's anything I regret, or would change. The answer is no! Not a thing. If I hadn't had the pain I wouldn't be me. And I like being me. Everyone should. I have a friend who says 'Treasure yourself.' I follow that advise by doing a certain amount of self-pampering. I surround myself with happy colors - yellow, coral, hot pink, and Mediterranean blues and greens. I've persuaded myself that I hate things that are bad for me - fattening foods, late nights, and loud and aggressive people head the list. I'm friends with myself, so I do things that are good for me, otherwise I couldn't be good for others. I spend my time with people I'm fond of, and that includes my working time, too.

 


 

Noches de Joan Crawford: 12 Cuentos Argentinos (1996--Argentina) Various authors

 

Description: 165 pages.

Sample Text:

 

 


 

 

Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, A Personal Biography  (2008, Simon and Schuster)  Charlotte Chandler

 

Description: 352 pages.

Sample Text:

 

Click here to read a review by John Epperson in the Washington Post (Feb. 24, 2008).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

US first edition hardcover.Doubleday ad for 'Portrait.' Click to see larger version.A Portrait of Joan (1962, Doubleday) Joan Crawford Steele with Jane Kesner Ardmore

Description: 239 pages. Joan's somewhat sanitized autobiography.

Sample Text:
Then one day on Sadie I was rehearsing a scene where I have to walk up to a table, pick up a film magazine and glance casually through its pages. Just as the director said, "Action," I started to read. DOUG AND I ARE MARRIED THE MODERN WAY, SAYS JOAN CRAWFORD - in bold, black print. It happened to be two years old, that story. I'd let myself go in the interview as I had many times because, growing up publicly, I believed I owed my private thoughts, my life and emotions to the public who'd been so kind to me. I asked Clarence Brown if I might have a minute to adjust my make-up before the take. What I adjusted was my emotions. I clenched my jaw, determined that I'd never be quoted again on anything pertaining to my personal life that I might live to regret.

 

 


 

 

Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford (2010, HarperCollins)  Donald Spoto

 

Description: 336 pages. 16 pages of photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best of Everything