The Best of Everything
Main Menu Films Bio Chronology Photos TV Books Mags Radio Ads Collectibles Geography Letters Memories Fans Links
Your Joan Crawford Questions
January 2008 May 2008 June 2008 August 2008 September 2008
Have a question about Joan Crawford?
About her life, career, films, relationships, rumors, "Mommie Dearest"?
I've been reading about and researching Joan for over 20 years now. If I don't know the answer to your question, then one of the other long-time Joan fans or Joan family members on this page's "panel of experts" probably will!
(If you have any information to add to any of the "panel of experts" responses on this page, please e-mail me and I'll be happy to share your knowledge with readers and cite you as an "Expert" yourself!)
Click on the link below to ask your question or to help respond to a question.
If you'd like to participate in daily discussions about Joan, please join our Yahoo "Best of Everything" message board.
Perhaps you’ve answered this before, but what on earth was the reason for Joan backing out of “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte”? It was a fine movie, but oh boy, with Joan it would have been over-the-top awesome.
Stephanie: It was a case of "Mean Girls" on the Hush set, with co-star Bette Davis and director Robert Aldrich the lead bitches.
During the earlier 1962 filming of Baby Jane with Joan, Bette, and Aldrich, things had stayed on the professional level, despite some tension between the co-stars. Post-Baby Jane, though, problems were already erupting: There's the notorious instance of Joan maneuvering prior to the '63 Academy Awards show to accept the Oscar for the absent Anne Bancroft (Joan physically brushing past Bette, nominated for Baby Jane, in the process). And then on May 5 of '63, Joan had her lawyers threaten Robert Aldrich that he would be "held accountable" for damage to Joan's reputation sustained by Aldrich's attempts to keep her from attending the Cannes Film Festival earlier that year in support of Baby Jane.
By 1964, all parties seemed to have intially let bygones be -- after all, there was money to be made in a guignol reunion film like Hush... Unfortunately, this time the former subterranean antipathies quickly re-surfaced once all parties were reunited. For instance, Bette immediately and blatantly had a Coca-Cola machine delivered to the Hush set (knowing, of course, of Joan's association with Pepsi), and she and Aldrich gleefully posed in front of it for photographers. This was only the beginning of the anti-Joan bitch-fest.
See the below chronology of dramatic, unpleasant events (from this site's "Chronology: 1964" page) that led up to Joan's permanently leaving the set. (Info researched from Shaun Considine's Bette and Joan):
May 14. Twentieth-Century Fox hosts a party for the Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte stars Joan and Davis and director Aldrich.
May 18. First day of rehearsals for Hush.
June 1. Production officially begins on Hush. (Joan not due to arrive until June 3.)
June 3. Joan and entourage arrive at the Baton Rouge airport.
June 12. On the last day of Louisiana shooting, the rest of the cast/crew packs up and leaves the set--and town--with no word to Joan, who's finished her scenes and fallen asleep in her trailer while waiting to see if she's needed for additional shooting. She's left without transportation back to her motel. An outraged Joan calls her agent to see if she can quit the picture and is told there is no legal way out. Joan flies home to Los Angeles and has her driver take her directly to Cedars Sinai Hospital.
June 16 - 19. Aldrich reschedules scenes and shoots around Joan while she's in the hospital.
June 30. After her suggestions for her character in Hush are rejected, it's announced that Joan has developed pneumonia and will have to prolong her stay in the hospital.
July 2. Aldrich informs the cast and crew of Hush that production is temporarily shutting down.
July 20. Joan returns to work.
July 21. Joan feels weak and leaves the set at noon.
July 23. Joan leaves the set at 11am.
July 24. Joan leaves the set at 12:15pm. Aldrich hires a private detective to follow her for two days over the weekend. The detective spots her leaving her apartment and follows her car, but Joan gives him the slip.
July 27. Joan reports back for work and leaves the set at 12:55pm. That day Aldrich, lawyers, and insurers meet and call Joan's lawyer Leonard Rosen to explain the seriousness of the situation.
July 28. Joan and Aldrich meet to discuss the situation. Joan explains that her energy level is low after lunch; Aldrich offers her a long lunch. She works 5 hours, 25 minutes that day.
July 29. Joan works until 1:30pm, then tells Aldrich she has over-exerted herself. Aldrich demands that she be seen by the company's insurance doctor. She angrily retreats to her dressing room and refuses to speak to Aldrich further. That day Aldrich and Fox exec Richard Zanuck agree to shut down film production until August 3 to give Joan a chance to recover.
August 5. Aldrich and Zanuck begin search to replace Joan, considering Katharine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, and Olivia DeHavilland. (Vivien Leigh, when called in London regarding the part, said, "No, thank you. I can just about stand looking at Joan Crawford's face at six o'clock in the morning, but not Bette Davis.")
August 25. Joan is replaced on Hush by Olivia DeHavilland. Production on the film resumes on September 9.
What was Joan Crawford's phone number when she lived in New York City?
There's a fabulous website (PhoneTrips.com)
that has archival recordings of old telephone central offices. If I
knew her phone number, it might be possible to find an actual recording
from the same exchange and in that way, hear exactly what it sounded
like to call Joan .
Stephanie: In his book Crawford: The Last Years, her friend Carl Johnes says her last phone number, when she lived in Apt. H of the Imperial House, was 734-6969. (Today the area code for the Upper East Side of Manhattan is 212. I don't know if it was the same in '76-'77.)
Was with as well?
While Joan, when she was married to Doug Fairbanks, Jr. (1929 - 1932), did occasionally hobnob at that time with Laurence Olivier and his first wife Jill, I haven't been able to find much record of Joan socializing with Vivien Leigh.
That said, The Divine Feud reports that "Crawford [retained] a steady acquaintanceship with dozens of other actresses by phone but mostly through her voluminous correspondence. Her contacts included Vivien Leigh, Myrna Loy, Marlene Dietrich, Rosalind Russell, Nancy Kelly, Virginia Grey...Barbara Stanwyck and Debbie Reynolds."
After Joan bowed out from Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte in 1964, Vivien Leigh was asked to replace her. When called by a movie exec about taking the role, Leigh now-famously responded: "No, thank you. I can just about stand looking at Joan Crawford's face at six o'clock in the morning, but not Bette Davis."
I’m wanting to redecorate my house in the “Joan” fashion. Looking for photographs of how her house looked, the colors, materials etc. Especially her bedrooms and closets, on Bristol Avenue and the apartments.
Can you tell me where to find such photographs?
Also am looking for her book “ of Joan.”
That's an exciting decorating challenge!
This website's Geography page has many links to interior photos of Joan's various homes, from the Bristol house to her last Imperial House apartment. Below are 3 direct links to color photos, but the main page has many more links to other black-and-white shots. Most pages also have in-depth descriptions of the styles and materials (and decorators) used.
You might also want to be on the lookout for design books featuring William Haines (who's responsible for her Bristol look) and Carleton Varney (who worked on her Imperial House apartments).
As for where to find Joan's autobiography, Portrait of Joan: As of tonight, Amazon.com has 11 copies available--unfortunately starting at around $73! I'd keep a lookout on eBay and half.com for cheaper copies, which they've listed in the past. (Also keep checking your city's used book stores, which is where I found many of my own out-of-print Joan books over the years.)
Why weren’t the twins mentioned in the Mommie Dearest? And was she not able to have children of her own?
The twins weren't mentioned in the movie for legal reasons. Since the twins, Cathy and Cynthia, completely disputed Christina's claims of abuse and refused to take part in the project, they were intentionally omitted so that they would not sue the filmmakers.
As for Part 2 of your question: Joan was not able to have children of her own.
In Conversations With Joan Crawford, Joan is asked by Roy Newquist: "There are rumors that you had a botched-up abortion when you were fourteen that made it impossible for you to have children."
Jesus! Look, I wanted children desperately, and while I was married to Franchot I had seven miscarriages, some of them damned painful. None of the doctors I went to could understand why I couldn't carry full-term. One of them, in of all places Tijuana, finally decided that I'd picked up something from raw milk when I was a kid, and that's why I aborted. Now, honestly, why would a woman who was that badly damaged by an abortion even try to have children?
No, I wanted kids. That's why I adopted them, after the Tijuana doctor told me I couldn't be, as he put it, an "instrument of birth." Hell, I not only wanted them, I could afford them. I could give them a life totally different from the lousy childhood I had. So I tried. Let any woman who's miscarried in the fourth month, which I did three times, tell you it isn't trying. Baby, it's bad news.
I have really enjoyed this web site dedicated to Joan, she was a Great!!! Actress.
I have two questions.
#1 The feud between Joan and is well known, but it didn't start out of nowhere. What was the beginning of the rivalry? what did it start over?
#2 And what do you think was the reason she disinherited Christina and Christopher? We never heard much of the boy; I just don't see how any parent can leave this earth with such a negative impact on her children.
#1. Here's a quote from this site's "Bette Davis" encyclopedia entry regarding Joan and Bette's "feud":
Joan and Bette's first conflict seems to have been over Franchot Tone, with whom Davis worked and fell in love on 1935's Dangerous. (Tone and Joan married that year.) Part 2 of the feud was primarily a false media creation--"who's the queen bee?"--once Joan signed with Bette's home-studio, Warners, in 1944. Part 3 came about during the polite-but-tense filming of Baby Jane, and its aftermath (Joan's delight in Bette's Oscar loss; Joan's withdrawal from the subsequent Aldrich/Davis collaboration Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte). Despite their bickering, in CWJC Joan also says of Davis: "She can be such a bitch, but she's so talented and dedicated and honest."
Hope that gives you an overview of their "problems."
#2. While Joan got along perfectly well with her two younger children, twins Cathy and Cynthia, her relations with her two oldest kids, Christina and Christopher, were indeed problematic, to say the least. While Joan had kept in contact with Christina as an adult up until a year or so before her death, she had cut all ties with Christopher more than 5 years earlier, due to his ongoing out-of-control behavior exhibited since he was an adolescent. (He'd been in trouble with the law both while living with Joan, and as an adult, when the police were called to his home for domestic violence.)
See this website's magazine pages for articles on Joan's relations with Christopher, and her kids in general, which might help explain some of the bad blood between some of them:
What happened to Joan Crawford's son?
Stephanie: According to a personal e-mail that I received at the time from Christopher's son Brad, Christopher died of cancer on September 22, 2006, in Greenport, New York.
Here's a link to this website's "Christopher Crawford" entry that tells more about his life post-Joan.
1. What do you think is the best Joan Crawford bio? I've already read
The Divine Feud and looooved it!!! Is there another one that's a
definitive Joan bio that is longer than 350 pages????
1. I really like The Divine Feud, too. Unlike some Joan biographers, author Considine backs up his material with extensive source notes, and his research into the whole Hush Hush debacle is especially in-depth and insightful.
Personally, I think four must-reads for Joan fans are the Bob Thomas bio, Alexander Walker's The Ultimate Star, Conversations with Joan Crawford, and The Last Years by Carl Johnes. (None, though, are longer than 350 pages.) Thomas's book is a nice overview of her life and career, unbiased and solid. Walker's book is what made me a fan in the first place---he's a very good writer and his psychological insights into Joan seem spot-on. Plus, he had access to MGM files, so there's lots of interesting, hard-core info, along with tons of great photos. Conversations---Joan in her own no-holds-barred words; nuff said! And The Last Years is a short memoir of Joan in her latter days by an assistant who became a friend and backgammon companion; his memories are warm, but he's also honest about Joan's shortcomings. You really get a sense of her actual personality here.
2. Regarding box office: The only film of those you mentioned that I have numbers for is The Damned Don't Cry. It cost $1.233 million to make. Domestic gross was $1.54 million. Foreign gross, $671,000. (For a total of $2.211 million.) Source: The William Schaefer Ledger, Appendix 1 (1995). See this site's Box Office page for all of the numbers that I've been able to confirm. If anyone has any box office figures for the films Tina mentioned, please e-mail me and I'll add the info here and to the Box Office page.
Dear Ms. Jones,
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your excellent website dedicated to the life and career of Miss Joan Crawford.
I have a couple of questions pertaining to "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?"
Firstly, what is the name of the instrumental song being played while Blanche () is typing out her letter to Mrs. Bates (Anna Lee) seeking help? The song can be heard again towards the end of the film when the sisters are on the beach.
Secondly, always claimed that Miss Crawford had somehow waged a campaign to prevent her (Davis) from winning the Best Actress Oscar for "Jane." Any truth to her allegations? Bette Davis could never be accused of being humble; she felt she deserved to win that Oscar, period. Towards the end of her life, Miss Davis actually stated in an interview that Miss Crawford contacted the New York members of the Academy and requested that they not vote for her (Davis). I doubt that even Joan Crawford had that much influence with the Academy of Arts and Sciences. However, it is interesting to note that Miss Crawford had agreed to accept Best Actress Oscars for the other nominees who were not present (Geraldine Page) in particular, I believe. Miss Crawford did accept of course, for for "The Miracle Worker." Bette Davis seemed to have made the most of this.
Anyway, I wish you and your "panel of experts" the best of luck answering these questions and continue the good work, Ms. Jones.
Hi Mr. Rak. Thanks for the compliment on the website.
The song you're referring to is "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" It was released twice in 1962 as a single: as an instrumental by the Charmers on Terrace Records, and with the same twist tempo on MGM Records, this time with lyrics sung by Bette Davis and Debbie Burton. Frank DeVol was the composer of the tune.
The www.soundtrackfan.com website has this info from the Warners pressbook released at the time:
POP TWIST RECORDINGS - Providing you with an unusual opportunity in conjunction with a picture of sheer suspense like WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? are two recordings which should have wide appeal to disc jockeys and their audiences as well as juke box patrons and record buyers.
Two of Frank DeVol's haunting themes from the film have been recorded in Twist tempo with vocals! MGM is releasing a single featuring the voice of Bette Davis along with Debbie Burton in a Twist version of "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" On the flip side little Miss Burton sings the parodic "I've Written a Letter To Daddy," which is Miss Davis' theme throughout the picture. The Charmers have also recorded "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" as a Twist for Terrace Records. Play these records in your lobby and during intermission in advance of your engagement. Alert disc jockeys and record stores to their unique potential.
Want to see Bette Davis actually singing this song? Check out this YouTube link to her hilarious performance on the Andy Williams show in December 1962!
Regarding whether or not Joan campaigned against Bette: Despite Bette's claims, there's no evidence to support this. While Joan was indeed a huge publicity hound (hence her wrangling to accept the Best Actress Oscar for anyone who wasn't present), Joan was also a hard-headed and astute businesswoman who happened to own a percentage of Baby Jane. As such, she knew full well that any awards for the film, even for Davis, would boost business, and thus her own profits.
Davis continued to make her accusations throughout her life---see this 1981 YouTube interview with her on The Tonight Show:
While Bette's Baby Jane stories made for good press, they remain factually suspect. For instance, in the above clip, she claimed that after Joan accepted Bancroft's Oscar, Joan then traveled around the world with it for over a year before giving it back to Bancroft! In fact, the Oscars were held on 4/8/63 that year. And Joan delivered the statue to Bancroft on 5/7/63, during the latter's rehearsals for the play Mother Courage. That's about 11 months shy of a year!
Can you trace the history/ownership of Joan's Academy Award? Who got it when she died? Where is it now?
Stephanie (with help from message board readers):
Joan's daughter Cathy LaLonde got the Oscar when Joan died. She sold it June 19, 1993, at a Christie's auction for $68,500 to an anonymous bidder.
Pamela Jordan (Cindy Jordan's daughter-in-law):According to family lore, Aunt Cathy sold the Oscar (allegedly when she ran out of money according to Mom) years ago. In 1997, when Mom (Cindy) came to live with us, I investigated reclaiming the Oscar, but was told by the "expert" at Christie's that since it was freely sold, albeit against other family members' wishes, the only recourse we had at that time was to attempt to repurchase it. The current owner at the time wanted over $100,000 for it. Needless to say, we still don't have it.
Follow-up (August '08) by Christopher Koelsch:...After reading your answers to fan questions, I noticed someone was looking for her Oscar.
My old landlord has it. He lives in and has it on his mantel. He bought it at auction (not sure when) I think for about 50 thou. The Academy knows about it and wanted to buy it back for $50 when he paid thousands. So he isn't selling it. Cathy or Cynthia's grandson wanted to buy it back but I wasn't allowed to give his name, etc.
Any more info you need let me know....and rest assured it is loved and in great shape. I think Joan would be happy, I hope.
Stephanie's Note: Below is a letter posted September 2008 on another Joan website, along with grandson Casey LaLonde's response, both questioning Christopher's claims about the location of the Oscar. Christopher's response follows. (My comments to Casey are added in yellow brackets.)
I just read on a less than stellar website, called "The Best of Everything," that Joan's long lost Oscar has been found! It states that you tried to contact this person who allegedly has Joan's Oscar and that person didn't want to contact you. Is any of this true?
I am finding the claims to be made up or untrue. Could you shed some
light on this? This 'other' Joan website seems to love attention and
this claim smells something awful.
A faithful fan of your site,
Thank you for the letter and welcome!
I never view The Best of Everything site, so you are the first to tell me the information posted about Joan's Oscar being "found." Christopher Koelsch, I believe, contacted Neil Maciejewski sometime in the last year or more, claiming that he "knew a guy" or something like that, who now owned the Oscar. I of course asked for more information, but nothing ever came of it. I thought at the time that this was some kind of prank or joke because no evidence was offered that Christopher's information was true.
Now I see that The Best of Everything site posted a similar note from the Christopher Koelsch stating the same information. I asked Mr. Koelsch for the information but he never followed up. His letter states that his "landlord" owns it and bought it for "50 thou." Since the Oscar originally sold for over $68,000 fourteen years ago, I doubt that he bought it for "50 thou" given the remarkable movie collectible market. In addition, Christopher claims his landlord bought the Oscar at an auction. I would suspect that a public auction containing my grandmother's Oscar would have brought national media attention. Unless this was a private, secret auction, we all would have heard about it and I would have been on the first plane to bid.
[Stephanie's Note: Christopher's landlord was the person who bought the Oscar at the Christie's auction mentioned. He bid on it by phone. The sale did, indeed, get national media attention at the time. As for your being "on the first plane to bid" had you known about the sale... Casey, either you're ignorant, or you think we Joan fans are flat-out stupid. YOUR MOTHER, Cathy LaLonde, was the one who put it up for auction! Joan left her the Oscar, and she chose to sell it in 1993 rather than keep it in the family.
I'm amazed that you had no idea that your own mother had the Oscar and sold it. But then, she didn't even tell you when your Aunt Cindy died (you had to find out about it from THIS website after Cindy's family notified ME), so perhaps I shouldn't be so amazed.
I would caution all Joan Crawford fans to be very wary of any Joan relative who publicly proclaims such devotion to his famous grandmother---yet isn't even in close enough contact with his own mother to know about "minor" things like her sister's death or her public sale of a major Joan Crawford artifact 14 years ago.]
I would caution all Joan Crawford fans to check their facts before making any statements. I would like some real proof before the ownership of the Oscar is made fact to be owned by some guy in West Hollywood.
Thanks for the letter and please do write again!
---------------------------Christopher Koelsch's response (September 2008):
When I claimed that he [the landlord] bought it for "50 thou," I used the verb "think," which is usually a generalization and/or a guess as I don't know the exact amount he paid for the Oscar. I knew it was in that area. I should have found out the exact amount again, maybe, but I don't see the owner that much and don't go around asking people the exact prices of things they paid for their possessions. He told me once; I knew it was around the mid-dd thousands.
Secondly, I had a death in the family and am very busy with my job, and apologies to Casey for not returning his email. Really!
I really don't know how to convince him or anyone else. One can believe what they want. The Oscar is here. I can't give out the owner's name. (Would you? It's a valuable piece. I woudn't want people to know what possessions I have in my house.) Nor will he ever sell it to you, most likely, Casey. It's the property of this gentlemen, and not even the Academy. The Academy is now buildling its massive museum at Sunset and Vine here in LA and is trying to get back many of the they didn't care/give a shit about, including Joan's. Those that loved their collectibles I'm sure will hold on to them. My old landlord cared about the Oscar when they/no one else did.
Again, he may have paid 68K. Probably. I apologize for being off in my figures. Casey may keep hunting for the Oscar in his dark corners if he doesn't believe my claims. I thought I was shedding a better/new light on the search. I'm sorry. I was trying to be of help.
And by the way, Joan would be pissed and livid for calling BOE "less than stellar." She was dedicated to her fans, and BOE upkeeps her name in the most dignified manner.
What was Joan Crawford’s height?
In researching your question, I've come across heights ranging from 5'3" to 5'4-1/2." A sampling of sources:
Ultimate Star = 5'3"
Bob Thomas bio = both 5'4" and 5'4-1/2"
Raging Star = 5'4-1/2"
Steven Spielberg quote about Joan = 5'4"
MGM studio info card filled out in 1926 = 5'3"
Joan herself in her autobiography, Portrait of Joan = 5'3"
I think I'd go with what both Joan and her studio said = 5'3."
I recently bought a dress form and it had 2 names signed at the top. One was Joan Crawford and the other one is Aileen McMahon. Do you know who Aileen McMahon is? Maybe she was one of the characters she played.
(First, thanks to Patrick for uncovering this set of Flickr pictures of the dress form, with signatures.)
Judy, I just double-checked the list of Joan's character names on the Films and TV pages, and it's not the name of a character Joan played. After doing a search online for "Aileen McMahon" and not finding anything, I asked the question of this site's message board. One theory (thanks, Cynthia) is that whoever wrote the name on the dress form (looks like Joan's handwriting) misspelled "Aline McMahon"'s first name. Aline was a character actress who appeared with Joan in 1935's I Live My Life. I'm not sure, though, why Joan would have to share a dress form!
A friend and myself are trying to recall a line of Joan Crawford's where she says "smile dear it's a party" and "look interested." Can you help?
Cliff, I think you might be referring to 1955's Queen Bee, where Joan's character Eva says to her cousin Jenny, "And smile a lot--make character with people!" (Thanks to Julie R. for the quote.)
Hi! I thought I read once that a bunch of movie stars signed a petition or something in support of Joan after was released. Do you or anyone else on the panel of experts remember anything of that sort? Thanks so much for your help.
Hi Sarah. I think you're thinking of the May 10, 1984, memorial ad placed in Variety. One version is pictured here to the left. Click on the picture to see another, much bigger 5/10/84 Variety ad with a different photograph but same list of signers, this time legible.
I have been a fan of Joan's for many years and have always wondered: Is there any truth to the whole rumor [that the two had a one-night stand], or is it just gossip? I personally believe it's just gossip but have always wondered the truth.
THANK YOU SO MUCH.
It's probably true. In a 2003 Monroe bio by Matthew Smith, who had access to transcripts of taped conversations between Monroe and her psychiatrist, Marilyn is quoted from the tapes as saying RE Joan:
Oh yes, Crawford. We went to her house from a cocktail party, feeling no pain. We went to the bedroom and went down on each other. Crawford had a gigantic orgasm and shrieked like a maniac. Next time I saw her she wanted another round. I told her straight out I didn't enjoy it much, doing it with a woman. After I turned her down she became spiteful.
The sexual encounter between the two most likely occurred in 1952 or '53.
Monroe was named "Fastest Rising Star of 1952" by Photoplay in '53, and at the magazine's awards dinner that year, she arrived in a provocatively tight, low-cut gold dress that drew sustained whistles from the assembled guests. Joan's public "spite" exhibited itself when she told friend/reporter Bob Thomas that evening, "It was the most shocking display of bad taste I have ever seen. Look, there's nothing wrong with my tits, but I don't go around throwing them in people's faces." In an article widely published the next day, Thomas quoted Joan further:
Certainly her picture isn't doing business, and I'll tell you why. Sex plays a tremendously important part in every person's life. People are interested in it, intrigued with it. But they don't like to see it flaunted in their faces. Kids don't like her. Sex plays a growingly important part in their lives, too; and they don't like to see it exploited. And don't forget the women. They're the ones who pick out the movie entertainment for the family. They won't pick anything that won't be suitable for their husbands and children. The publicity has gone too far, and apparently Miss Monroe is making the mistake of believing her publicity... She should be told that the public likes provocative feminine personalities; but it also likes to know that underneath it all the actresses are ladies....
Before Monroe's transcript was made public, vague stories about a sexual encounter between the two had been surfacing for years in various Joan bios, most describing it as a drunken pass that Joan had made at Monroe that was rebuffed. Alleged years for this occurrence vary in the books, as does the time and location---a 1953 Sunday brunch at Joan's (Last Word), dinner at Joan's (Divine Feud), a 1948 cocktail party at Joan's (Crawford's Men). All stories involved Joan offering wardrobe advice and dresses for Monroe to try on; in some versions Marilyn disrobes, in some she doesn't. (In Marilyn's own highly sanitized version, the two met up... at church!)
I thought I read on your site somewhere that Joan enjoyed soap operas. Do you know which serial she liked to watch?
Hi Kenton. Unfortunately, I don't know her exact favorite soaps. Though, according to the Bob Thomas bio: "She loved the daytime serials and often spotted promising young performers; she copied their names from the credits and sent them letters of admiration."
The Thomas bio also says that in the '70s Joan liked to watch Walter Cronkite, Bonanza, The Waltons (her favorite show), and even the Saturday morning kids' shows. Carl Johnes's bio confirms Joan's love of The Waltons and also mentions another favorite, LIttle House on the Prairie.
Hi - does anyone have any information on Joan's apts? Is the building where Alfred and Joan's "" apt was still there? If so - whatever became of the apt? Also is Imperial House still around? Seems to me I read that it had been demolished.
Hi Dana. Yes, both buildings are still there. (I've been to both of them---see the Geography page of this site for photos.)
The "Pepsi apartment" is located at 2 East 70th Street at Fifth Avenue. Though I don't know who now lives in the apartment or if it's been renovated since Joan moved out in 1967.
And Imperial House, where Joan lived from '67 until her death in 1977, is at 150 East 69th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues. Click here to see its current real estate listing. (Many people think Imperial House has been demolished because that's what the findadeath.com site incorrectly reports.)
I bought this photo of at an estate sale in and was wondering if you know anything about it. Who the photographer may be, what movie it may be from. I love your website! Thanks for your time.
Hi Shari, and thanks for the compliment on the site. (And congrats on your beautiful new picture!) This is a screen shot from the 1933 film Dancing Lady, co-starring Joan and Clark Gable, directed by Robert Z. Leonard. The movie was released on DVD last year---it's a charmer, a perfect example of Joan in her MGM heyday; you should definitely see! This scene is particularly cute, part of a neatly edited montage: Joan's character is chasing Gable all over town, trying to get an audition for his show. Here, he's just run across the street, leaving her to get splashed by a passing vehicle...
1. I noted in two or three of Joan's letters from the early 1960's (right after Baby Jane) Joan mentioned she was going to do Lady in a Cage. Do you or anyone know what happened with this one and how it ended up Olivia did the picture? It's one of the campiest of the Psycho Biddy movies and one of my favorites.
2. Also, does anyone know when was the last time Joan went to ?
3. And, does anyone know when she gave up her ? Did she actually come out the time she kicked La Tina out of the West Hollywood digs?
1. RE Lady in a Cage:
The IMDb "Trivia" section for the 1964 film Lady in a Cage claims that "Joan Crawford was reportedly offered Olivia de Havilland's role first but turned it down because she'd just played a victimized invalid in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)." No source for this info is quoted, though, and I cannot confirm it from any other sources.
(When I checked the Letters section of this site, I only found one letter that mentioned she had plans to do Lady: a July 10, 1962, letter to socialite friend Frances Spingold, in which she says Baby Jane will begin shooting on July 23 for 4 weeks, then she plans on going to New York to get the twins enrolled in school, then back to LA to begin filming of Lady.)
2. RE Joan at the West Hollywood apartment (8008 West Norton Ave.) and her last time in Los Angeles:
One way I've been able to partially track Joan's whereabouts is from the return address of her letters. In the Letters section of this site, the last letter that I saw with the West Norton return address was dated September 9, 1975. There's also a letter dated May 7, 1976, that doesn't show the return address, but does say "We in Los Angeles will see the treasures from King Tut's tomb next year..." Indicating that she was living there at that time.
3. RE Joan kicking Christina out of the apartment personally:
According to Christina in Mommie Dearest, Joan did not personally come to LA to kick her out. Joan had offered Christina the use of the West Norton apartment in June 1970, when Christina decided to leave New York to again pursue acting in LA. About 6 weeks after she'd moved in, Christina got a call from Joan's LA secretary saying that Joan was coming out to do a show and that Christina had two days to move out. When Christina tried to reach her mother in NYC for an explanation, Joan remained incommunicado (and ended up not coming to LA for another couple of months). After Christina found a new place to live, she finally reached her mother to give her her new address and phone number: "Mother behaved as though nothing unusual had happened. The secretary told me that the locks and phone number at the apartment were changed after my departure, yet Mother acted as though everything was normal."
I was wondering if was aware of the scandalous book her daughter Christina was writing. Joan passed in 1977 and the book was released in 1978. I am sure that the book was in the works way before that time. Any thoughts?
Apparently Joan was aware of the book. In the 2002 bio Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography, authors William Schoell and Lawrence Quirk write (pp. 257-258):
"During one teary late-night phone conversation, Joan confided to Larry Quirk that she was afraid Christina was going to write a book, a terrible book, about her after she was dead, if not before. It had gotten back to her that Christina was asking friends of Joan's for 'dirt' on her mother. For instance, she asked several people if they thought that Joan was having a lesbian relationship with a red-headed female fan who had helped her pack up her belongings when she moved from the penthouse (she wasn't). 'I just know she wants to use it all for a book or something worse,' Joan cried. Quirk assured her this was unlikely--'It's probably just simple curiosity on her part,' he said--and asked her why she thought Christina would do such a thing. 'Surely she knows, whatever your faults, that you love her and have done all that you could for her?' Quirk asked. Joan replied, 'You don't know Tina. She can be very vindictive. She throws things in my face. She says she's seen things I wouldn't want my fans to know about. She's threatened me. To get money out of me. To get me to talk to people when I know it won't do any good. You don't know what that girl is capable of. She's been out to get me ever since I made her stand on her own two feet.' Quirk passed it off as a paranoid delusion on Joan's part, never dreaming that Joan knew exactly what she was talking about."
[On this site's TV page] I notice references to non-existent TV movies such as "Beyond The Water's Edge" or a guest appearance on "The Name Of The Game." These are things that I can find no documentation on. Even Imdb.com mentions them but with no information. Any explanation?
I think both of those items are Crawford urban myths. There seems to be no documentation of either... certainly her voluminous letters would have unearthed a mention. Another show, " Woman on the Run," was to be filmed but never went forward. A lot of folks seem to think these were filmed but I am pretty sure it's wishful thinking. can have things added to it by anyone...and they have a lot of Crawford things wrong...for instance, I know for a fact she made only 1 appearance on and has her down for like 3...go figure.
I have been a LOYAL fan and defender of for many years. She was my mother's favorite actress from the late 1920s up to my mother's death last year at age 93. I have most of her films on DVD and tapes, and also copies from TCM.
I am especially interested in her early films (1929 thru 1934 pre-code.) My question or questions: When will they release Letty Lynton from 1932? Also, Sally, Irene and Mary was a silent with Joan made in, I believe, 1926. Will that film be available on DVD soon along with Letty?
was a "damn good actress" as quoted from TCM. Why in the world can't more critics and film historians give her the credit she deserves???? Tell me it can't be because a jealous and hateful daughter wrote a book full of lies and innuendo?????
First, regarding Letty: See this column's December '07 Letty question for details on why the film, at least for the forseeable future, will not be released on DVD. (In short, at the time of its initial release, there was a plagiarism lawsuit against the film, which MGM lost. This prevented its re-release at the theaters and is preventing its release on DVD today.)
RE Sally, Irene, and Mary: I have not heard anything about a potential DVD release for this silent film. (Background Notes: It was released nationally on 12/7/25 and co-starred Joan with Constance Bennett, Sally O'Neil, William Haines, and Douglas Gilmore.)
RE your last rhetorical question(s): Joan seems to have initially fallen out of favor with both critics and the general public in the 1950s, when new actors like Brando were perceived as being more "authentic," and actors like Joan as being "artificial" and "irrelevant." (Some of Joan's films at the time like "Goodbye My Fancy" and "Torch Song" certainly didn't help matters any.) Bosley Crowther, the influential chief critic for the New York Times in the '50s and '60s, was a one-man anti-Joan crusader; I am unable to find ONE review of his that has anything positive to say about her. (Sure, some of her '50s films are overwrought; yet it's hard to honestly say that Joan did not have her good/great moments in many, even the worst, of these films. That Crowther was constantly negative indicates an overt, rather laughable bias.) He singlehandedly set a constant anti-Joan critical tone that many other sheeplike critics picked up on and repeated. I think his influence, combined with the later distorted view of Joan in "Mommie Dearest," has indeed affected how people have responded to her onscreen.
This past extremely unfair critical assessment seems to be under revision today, thankfully. While present-day "Mommie Dearest"-fueled snarky critical comments persist among the uninformed, the tide seems to be turning as a new generation of writers (thinking independently, not lazily basing easy opinions on MD) come to the fore of leading, opinion-influencing publications. In addition, noted filmmakers like Bertolucci, Godard, Truffaut, and Scorsese (and upstarts like Guy Maddin) are on record as lauding both Joan and her films---their praise is intellectually freeing up modern-day critics to admit that Joan Crawford is indeed a very good actress!
Just as anecdotal evidence, I've only been living in New York City for 11 months, but already have seen Joan's films featured at such "respectable joints" as the Museum of Modern Art ("Flamingo Road") and the Film Forum ("Daisy Kenyon"). Not to mention the many Joan-films screened in 2007 for the campier crowd at the Chelsea Cinema ("Johnny Guitar," "The Best of Everything," "The Women," "Harriet Craig," "Strait-Jacket"). As evidenced by the diverse forums that are currently screening her films and the packed houses that are attending them, Joan's appeal as an actress obviously transcends both time, Crowther, and the 1970s distortion of her image by her disgruntled daughter.
If Joan weren't both a very good actress and a powerful screen presence, we wouldn't be here today still talking about her. Rumors and biases and camp aside, it's her WORK that stands out, and stands up, today.
First let me just say how much I've enjoyed your website devoted to Miss Crawford. It is a very excellent resource for any movie fan.
My question is regarding Joan's appearance on "The Secret Storm." I remember this show very well as a child, particuliarly the opening with the waves crashing on the shore. Anyway to my question, has Joan's episode or footage from this series ever been made available for viewing? Does anyone have copies of it?
Warm regards and wishes for a Happy New Year!!!
Hi Kenton, and best wishes to you, too.
Background info: Joan's daughter Christina had the role of "Joan Borman Kane" on The Secret Storm CBS soap. When Christina fell ill in the fall of 1968, Joan volunteered to take over her role during the week of October 21 through the 25th. While Joan's performance was reportedly embarrassing, the ratings that week also shot through the roof.
A Joan TV historian, Tom Clark, says today re "Secret Storm": "I know for a fact that the Secret Storm master tape was erased to be reused."
So, apparently, no copies exist.
I have a few questions and tho they may not be fully answered it's nice to know i can share them with other fans and see their thoughts.
1. Myth or fact? I've read in the biography by Bob Thomas saying that Crawford turned down appearing in Yankee Doodle Dandy with . She said she was too old, and to give it to . Is that really true? She wasn't at Warners yet and i know she was friends with Cagney but it just does not seem she would have been offered that part.
2. While on that topic of roles she might have been offered, turned down or wanted. I often wonder why she wasn't included as a guest star in the first That's Entertainment! 1974. Not offered? Turned down? She was still active, seems sad that she wasn't a part of it since she is so identified with that studio.
3. There is a picture taken of MGM Stars and Boss, from 1943; in some captions it mentions stars that were absent, most obvious , and of course . Any info on why she wasn't present at that once-in-a-lifetime moment? I don't think she had left the studio yet or maybe knew she would soon and didn't want to be a part of it?
Thank you so much.
Sergio (Joan Crawford Fan since 1993)
1. The 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' casting is more than likely a big, old myth. She was not at Warners yet, and MGM was not too keen on loaning out their top stars (with the exception of replacing the late in 's 'They All Kissed the Bride'), although Joan, at that point, had drifted into glorified B pictures as MGM was pushing her off the lot. Also, Joan would have been forced to accept second billing, and play second fiddle to why would any superstar commit to that?
2. Joan was more than likely not asked to make 'That's Entertainment' because she was not considered as 'good' as and . Both considered her 'Torch Song' the worst musical ever made and often made cracks about Joan's clunky dancing (though Kelly often copied little bits and pieces from Joan's 'Dancing Lady' and owes his entire career to that film.) Since you mentioned ‘That’s Entertainment’ I just want to say that it is undoubtedly the worst form of self-promotion and cockiness that I’ve ever viewed. Basically, it’s and telling each other how good and were, and they replay their own dancing clips in all three versions. Show something else and other people for a change (like Joan's tap dancing in 'Dance, Fools, Dance). Not only that, but they totally dismissed the early talking musicals as, “Not very good, but had some originality.” While those might not be the best, one certainly cannot dismiss the early MGM musicals (or the musicals at Warner Brothers) like ‘That’s Entertainment’ chooses to do. Both Kelly and Asatire copied much from those early films, especially Joan’s ‘Dancing Lady’ (look at what became of the final song, ‘’, from ‘The Hollywood Revue of 1929': Kelly stole the song and never really gave any credit to the original). Getting back to your question, I honestly think it’s a good thing that Joan didn’t appear in that. Besides, they totally cut her signing out of the clip where she and Astaire dance. If one saw only that clip, they would have thought was the real star, when he was just a bit player. threatened to file a lawsuit against MGM for that film, because they did the same to her, but leaving only brief shots of her watching perform 'Puttin' on the Ritz' from 1939's 'Idiot's Delight'. (She wanted her reaction shots deleted entirely, insisting they made her appear as if she was only a bit player, but the studio refused, insisting that the film had already been duplicated for theatrical release.)
3. Joan was more than likely not present for that picture because she was already planning on ditching the studio. Why get attached with photos when she planned on leaving anyway? Not sure about Judy and Lana, though I think Judy was already having problems as early as 1943 which might have affected her that day, but she did appear in other stock photographs (one is the cover of ‘The MGM Stock Company’, and Judy is on that).
Follow-up by Ed Guinea RE "That's Entertainment":
For the record, WAS asked to appear in "That's Entertainment"....she was the living link between the silent past and the present. You'll note that she is billed on the advertising with all of the others. It made more sense to have her than to have or some of the other lesser personalities.
But, alas, she was turning down everything at this point in her life. This is documented in Charles Castle's book I believe.
I interviewed her in person in in 1973 and she mentioned numerous upcoming productions including a documentary on MGM, and a TV movie where she would play a female doctor a la Welby. But I guess she changed her mind for whatever reason. The doctor part went to in the last appearance of her life.
I have a question regarding the film TIDE OF EMPIRE.
I noticed that the site doesn't have an encyclopedia entry for it, so I'm left with a few questions---and I hope you will be kind enough to answer them. From what I gather, Joan was originally cast as 'Josephita Guerrero', but was replaced by in the role. What's the story on Joan being replaced? And most importantly: Was Joan's version ever completed? I ask this because the IMDb makes it seem as if Joan's version was completed and both versions were released, but I figured Joan just shot a few scenes, was replaced, and that was that. I'm so confused! LOL!
Thanks for your help!
As far as I know, Joan was just initially slated to star in the 1929 film, then replaced by Adoree, as you mentioned. Despite what the IMDb reports, I'm not aware of a "Joan version" of the film ever being released. (For publicity pictures of Joan as "Josephine Guerrero" shot by Ruth Harriet Louise, see this site's 1928 photo page.)
I'm pretty sure filming for 'Tide of Empire' started right after 'Our Dancing Daughters'. 'Daughters' was an unexpected smash hit as was her 'Dream of Love' and 'Our Modern Maidens', all of which shot Joan up to immediate stardom. 'Tide of Empire' was to be yet another mediocre film, a role any starlet on the MGM lot could play. When 'Daughters' made Joan an overnight sensation, she was too big of a star to play basically some low-class, B-movie, and therefore was replaced by a starlet more capable of working in such a dud which would go unnoticed.
1. The Warner Years
was said to be a close friend of Joan. Shaun Considine said in "The Divine Feud" that both stars socialized during the 30's and were in frequent contact over the next decades. But I never ever found something about the mid 40's, when Joan signed with Warner's and joined Stanwyck, who just returned to the studio on the basis of a non-exclusive contract. Stanwyck wanted to play Mildred Pierce and Joan got the part. But did the two stars share some time together in those years? Was everything just hearts and flowers between them? Or was there any competition between Joan and Missy like the "feud" Crawford had with Davis over the title "Queen of the lot"?
When Joan sent the production of '' into a limbo, she was not afraid of being replaced by another actress. Considine quotes Your Own Joan as follows:
"They approached and . Both are friends of mine and wouldn't dream of taking a part away from me."
Stanwyck always vehemently denied she was ever offered the part (see her interview with John Kobal in "People Will Talk"). According to Stanwyck, Aldrich wanted her to give a short cameo but took over in the end.
Was Joan just misquoted by Considine or was she too ill to get the things right?
Stanwyck and Joan were friends dating back to the 1920s, when Stanwyck and silent-star husband Frank Faye lived next door to Joan. At that time, Stanwyck would literally climb over the fence between their homes to escape Faye's abuse. (
The two were perhaps more than just friends: Stanwyck's press agent Helen Ferguson is quoted as saying "There is no doubt in my mind that Joan and Barbara were intimate on more than one occasion."
In the '30s, Stanwyck and husband Robert Taylor were frequently photographed out at clubs with Joan and husband Franchot Tone.
After Joan's Oscar win for "Mildred," Stanwyck sent a nice note. And the two were frequently photographed together in the '50s.
The two carried on a correspondence and continued to see each other through the 1970s. (See the Letters section of this site for specific letters from Joan to Stanwyck--12/22/62, 8/21/65, 3/7/74. See also the Shirley Eder entry of this site's Encyclopedia for detailed info on Joan and Stanwyck's interactions in the 1970s. Said reporter Eder: "It's a strange friendship, but nevertheless it's real.")
RE Hush and Stanwyck: Joan says they offered Stanwyck her part, Stanwyck mentions only that she was offered a cameo. If I had to pick one account, probably Joan was being dramatic, after hearing that Stanwyck was contacted. My favorite account of an actress contacted to replace Joan in this movie remains Vivien Leigh's : "No, thank you. I can just about stand looking at Joan Crawford's face at six o'clock in the morning, but not Bette Davis."
My question is-What ever happened to Joan's footage from Hush...Hush,Sweet Charlotte? This is kind of like the Holy Grail for me; as good as the movie is, I always think how much better it might be if Joan hadn't bowed out of it. With all the director's cut dvd's that are being released, who knows, maybe the discarded footage could be included just for comparison. Thanks again for your awesome work online-I check it out at least once a day!
Considering how valuable the footage would be, my guess is, and this is merely a guess, that the footage was destroyed.
Actual filming started on June 1st, but Joan Crawford's scenes weren't shot until June 3rd and her filming ended (due to her own insistence on being `sick') on June 12th after being abandoned by cast and crew in her trailer (ouch!). There probably wasn't much filmed anyway, and it's more than likely the footage ended up on the cutting room floor [because such footage might have hurt the film].
In all Davis/Crawford documentaries, the rare photographs from 'Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte' are shown, but no footage. The reason for that is because it was more than likely destroyed for financial purposes. Had the film survived, no doubt that Fox would have included it on the DVD because today, and a bit ironically, sales would have shot through the roof because of campy fans who wanted to see the last pairing of filmdom's reigning Queen Bees.Michael C.:
i had asked the guys from scarlet street magazine if they knew. they had never heard anything about it existing and thought it probably was destroyed after joan left the picture. they already had the chance to release when the dvd was released....but who knows, maybe someone will discover it hidden in some vault one day. back then there wasn't much reason to save stuff like that, there were no dvd's, video, etc.
I am no expert of course. But isn't the scene where Olivia is pulling up to the mansion in the cab actually Joan? And if you look closely you can see her? Then in another scene where Olivia is looking down from a window, Joan also? If you look closely you can see her "updo" instead of Olivia's little short "do."
FOLLOW-UP from Bart:
Regarding the question of Joan footage in "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte," I have on pretty good authority that the scene where Miriam peers through the window as Charlotte sits by Drew's dead body in the background is indeed Joan. The lips, eyebrow arch and sweep of the updo give it away. An aquaintance of mine who was also a huge Joan fan worked on a production crew of a Robert Aldrich film and revealed this to me. Joan had signed her release and was done with that film altogether so she never even dared to think anyone would know the difference. She didn't know exactly how tenacious her fans would become about any tidbit of info about her. Love the Q's section Stephanie! Keep up the good work!
There are several significant discrepancies between the Bob Thomas biography and Christina’s account of Crawford’s death.
The Christian Science practitioner is nameless and provided for readers who
were also practical nurses.
From “: A Biography”:
The Christian Science practitioner was “Mrs. Markham.”
Bob Thomas at least provides a name for the mystery practitioner – though it sounds phony and it’s certainly odd there’s no first name. From the Thomas book you can infer that “Mrs. Markham” repeated private conversations between Joan and herself. He does not reveal exactly where he gets the info. Is it from “Mrs. Markham” herself or second or third hand? Christina, of course, is just as guilty for providing no details as to her informant was. If you buy Christina’s story, someone was with Joan as she passed; if Thomas is to be believed, Joan’s last words involved her culinary abilities.
So, the big question is: does anyone really know who was (or was not) with Joan at the end?
Stephanie: From Christina's book, it sounds like her source was the woman who was with Joan at the end: "She arrived in the morning to relieve the other woman, who had stayed the night. She realized that Mother had been through a very bad night but was surprised at the clarity with which she spoke. There were only the two of them in the room when the end finally came. The woman, realizing there was nothing more she could do, began praying..."
While this differs from Thomas's account, Christina does also mention two "companions"---the one who'd been there overnight and was relieved by the second in the morning.
Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography (Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoell, 2002) adds a bit of new information: "...Joan withdrew from life and her friends, with the exception of a woman named Darinka Papich and a Christian Scientist named Mrs. Campbell."
Bryan's The Concluding Chapter of Crawford website has a Chronology section, excerpted below, which mentions Mrs. Markham, Mrs. Campbell, a Christian Science nurse named Maria, and Darinka Papich.
Bryan's 1976 Chronology mentions that that Christmas, "Joan gives Darinka Papich a mink coat." Now, this info sounds as if the source were Darinka Papich, though Bryan doesn't list a source on his site. (It also sounds like Papich might have been the woman Christina was referring to. I can see how Christina might have turned Joan's pained "Don't do that" into the more dramatic "Don't you dare ask God to help me!")
I'm going to write Bryan to ask where he got the Papich information and if he responds will post it here. In the meantime, if anyone out there knows more about Ms. Papich and/or Joan's last days, please e-mail me.
FOLLOW-UP from "NTIPJR":
FOLLOW-UP from "P," a UK fan:
I have [Joan's interior designer] Carleton Varney's book There's No Place Like Home. There is a lengthy chapter on his friend JC entitled " was not just ' On pages 67 and 68 he describes meeting Darinka after Christina's book came out and she told him what happened. It appears from his account that it was not as Christina stated. Darinka told Carleton Varney, "I think I said something like 'I want to pray for you.' Joan said, almost as an aside, 'Oh Darinka don't do that.'" Darinka told Varney she wished Tina had been with her mother when she lay dying. "It becomes a part of you forever," she said. "If Christina had seen her mother suffer, she would not have written all those horrible things."
1) What was Joan's Favorite Color?
2) Did Joan do anything special before she walked out onto the set to do her part in a film? I.E. Listen to music etc?
3) How did Joan feel about Letty Lynton (1932) being pulled and shelved? Did she have a say in any of it? Or did she know it was pulled and shelved?
1) Stephanie: From almost every source I've seen, blue.
Follow-up: Donna Nowak, another Joan webmaster, wrote in to tell me that she's not sure "blue" is correct. After searching through various bios to back up my claim, I actually couldn't come up with "blue" or any mention of a favorite in the books. (Other than Joan's saying she likes "hot pink" in My Way of Life.) However, I did find some Internet mentions of Joan's favorite being blue. At Kent State U's page for their Adrian exhibit, they quote designer Adrian as saying that Joan was easily distracted when looking at costume sketches, so to keep her attention he "sketched all the costume proposals in her favorite color blue." In a 1935 column, Feg Murray says of Joan that she "has only one dress that isn't some shade of blue." Other indications of blue being a favorite: Hollywood reporters referring to a shade of blue just lighter than Wedgwood as "Crawford Blue" because of her constant use of it. And jewelers referring to sapphires as "Joan Blue." Plus, there's that famous blue stationery of hers...
If anyone has any further info on what colors Joan liked, please e-mail me and I'll post the info here.
2) Stephanie: I don't know that Joan had a set cache of tricks she did each time, but here are a few particular instances that I know about:
On the 1932 set of Rain (a particularly emotionally grueling shoot for her), Bob Thomas's Joan bio says, "During the filming on Catalina Island Joan remained in her cottage every evening, playing Bing Crosby records over and over until other members of the company could scarcely stand them." (Mike O. also says that Joan was a fan of Marlene Dietrich and listened to her records on movie sets around this same time.)
For 1947's Possessed, Joan extensively researched mental illness and spent time in a local LA psych ward, observing electro-shock treatments being administered. (One of the patients receiving shock treatments later sued Warners for privacy invasion.) I know this isn't quite what you were asking about, Christopher, but still, it's an indication of Joan doing her research and being "method" before "method" actually had a name!
And there's a story about the set of 1956's Autumn Leaves: Joan had to appear out-of-breath for one scene, so she ran up and down, up and down off-set before hitting her mark on-set and doing the scene appropriately breathlessly!
3) Mike O.: Joan did not have much knowledge of what MGM did with the rights of her movies; the proof lies in her saying [in later years, as quoted in Conversations with Joan Crawford], "If there is ever a retrospective I hope they show [Letty]; the acting may be a little out of style now, but not that much."
Stephanie: Joan's latter-day quote above may have just been wishful thinking on her part instead of an actual knowledge of Letty's convoluted history. Though, as Mike said, she probably had no knowledge of or input into the myriad of legal maneuverings surrounding the film after it was released.
I know you have read this question 2000 times but can you point me in the right direction for a copy of Letty Lynton??? PLEASE!!!!!!!!
Stephanie: Hi Randy. Here's a fantastic web-page devoted to selling hard-to-find Joan and Bette DVDS...for only $10 each! Included on the list of available films is the super-rare Letty!
(I haven't ordered Letty from this seller, but I have gotten other rare Joan films from him, which were all of good quality and packaged with attractive DVD cover art. Note on the quality of Letty: Because this film has been copied and passed around as a bootleg so many times, the picture quality is poor, no matter what source you get it from. I myself have 3 different copies from 3 different sources, and they're all pretty scratchy. Still, I'm lucky to have been able to see it, so I'm not complaining!)
Background info: Letty Lynton is a 1932 MGM film starring Joan that was withdrawn from distribution after MGM lost a plagiarism court case in 1936. Upon its release in 1932, it spawned a huge fashion craze, as well as some of Joan's most iconic photo sessions by Hurrell.
Explains Mark Litwak on the filmmaking.com site re the court decision:
In Sheldon v. Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corp., MGM attempted to secure the movie rights to Edward Sheldon's copyrighted play “Dishonored Lady.” The play was based, in part, on a true historical incident in the public domain. When MGM was unsuccessful in negotiating to obtain the rights to the play, the studio produced a movie of its own, “Letty Lynton,” based on the same historical incidents that were the basis for Sheldon’s play. Although much of this movie was original, certain details and sequences of events were identical to those expressed in Sheldon’s play. The lower court held for MGM on the grounds that the material borrowed only involved general themes or ideas.
Click here to see the Letty Lynton encyclopedia entry on this site, which also provides a link to the complete text of the court decision. And here to view this site's Letty film page, featuring reviews, posters, etc.
In the photos category [of this website] that says pre-1925 there's a photo with Joan and a group of children and she's the tallest one. I just wanted to know, was she held back in school?
Stephanie: Hi Ronald. That's a 1918 photo of Joan at the St. Agnes Academy in Kansas City, which Joan attended on a work-scholarship for 3 years (from approximately 1916 to 1918, ages 11 to 13). The school, which housed only about 50 students, was for girls from elementary grades through high school. (So, no, Joan hadn't been held back; she was just towering over the elementary-age girls in this photo.)
I'm delighted you have added this new page, where one can ask questions! I tried a similar feature on another website, asking Joan's grandson a question, and he never responded. So here goes: does anyone know whatever became of Fuller Lowe, her brother Hal's daughter, whom I assume is Joan's nearest living relative (if in fact she is still alive)? Did she ever have a family? Thanks for any light you can shed!
Stephanie: Barton, sorry to say that I can't really shed much light! "Joanie"'s whereabouts seem to be a mystery nowadays (at least to me and Cynthia Jordan's family). In Mommie Dearest, Christina mentions that her cousin Joan attended Joan Crawford's funeral, but other than that, I can't seem to find anything on where she is today, or if she ever had a family of her own, or if she's even alive now.
Some background notes: Niece Joan, daughter of Joan's older brother Hal LeSueur and his wife Kasha, spent a lot of time with Joan in the 1930s. The Last Word bio reports that Joan often had the girl over on weekends in 1933, and there are photos of her with Joan on the sets of movies in 1936 and 1937. (Pictured here on the set of 1937's Last of Mrs. Cheyney.) There were even magazine reports in the late '30s that Joan considered adopting the girl.
If anyone has any information on Joan's niece, please e-mail me so I can share it with Joan-fans here.
Do you know what became of the portrait of painted by Margaret Keane?
Stephanie: Unfortunately, no I don't know what happened to the Keane portrait of Joan. Though tonight online I did find this tidbit from a 5/23/99 New York Times style-section article about Keane:
Joan Crawford, who organized a star-studded opening for the Keanes in New York, put two Keane paintings in her spooky flick ''Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?'' and plastered the cover of her autobiography with her own Keane portrait. (The last time Margaret saw it, the portrait had been viciously scratched beyond repair.)
No word on what year Ms. Keane saw it so scratched up.
Joan once said "Keane paintings are my friends," and she had several in her Imperial House NYC apartment. (The Joan portrait by Keane was featured on the cover of Joan's 1971 autobiography My Way of Life.)
With all the new DVD releases of Joan's old movies, does her estate receive any royalties from any of the sales? You would think if she received percentages of the profits of the films at the time of her release, that she (her estate) would be entitled to some of the profits of the DVD sales.
Pamela Jordan (Cindy Crawford Jordan's daughter-in-law): I'm not 100% sure, but it would seem to me (and this is purely conjecture here) that any royalties made of DVD sales WOULD go to the estate, but I honestly have no clue who/what's in charge of the estate.
Michael F (panel member): My guess (and it is totally a guess) is that the only DVDs that royalties might come in on were films where Joan owned a piece of the picture/profits (i.e. Sudden Fear or Baby Jane).
Stephanie (site creator and panel member): The first codicil of Joan's will states:
I give and bequeath all tangible personal property that I shall own at the time of my death ... to my daughter Cathy or, if she shall predecease me or shall renounce this bequest in whole or in part, I give and bequeath such property or the portion thereof renounced by my said daughter to my daughter Cynthia if she shall survive me.
My guess is that, if such royalties were available to the estate, they'd go to Cathy. Note, though, that in the will Joan only mentions "tangible personal property." At the time of her death in 1977, she probably couldn't have imagined that her films would soon be available for sale on VHS and DVD. Nor was she likely aware of the issue of "publicity rights." (In 1977, there really wasn't a market for Joan Crawford T-shirts, etc.; nor was the issue of website images and "official website" status even on the horizon!)
For any legal scholars out there, here's the Complete text of Joan's will if you want to try to figure this out!
I had no idea [Joan's children] Chris and Cindy had corresponded after . If you could tell me, what did they talk about?
Pamela Jordan (Cindy Crawford Jordan's daughter-in-law): It was really nothing more than cards and pictures on birthdays and Christmas, that sort of thing. I learned many years ago to not press Mom for info into her "Hollywood lifestyle with the rich and famous." After one birthday card she received from Christopher, she showed me the card and a photo he had included of himself.
I have been a fan of Joan's for a long time now. Even though I'm only sixteen years old! And my question is: What was the cause of her death or is it even known for certain?
Stephanie: It's not known for certain. The coroner listed the official cause of death as "acute coronary occlusion," but Joan had been noticeably wasting away for months and several biographies state that the actual cause of death was liver cancer. (In The Divine Feud, Joan's LA secretary Betty Barker is quoted as saying "It was cancer; that's what the lawyer told us," while Joan's NYC secretary Florence Walsh told the author, "She died of a heart attack.")
Suicide was also suspected because of the symbolic importance of the death date (May 10)---Joan and Al Steele's wedding anniversary---and because Joan gave away her beloved pet shih-tzu two days before her death. (Another contributor to the suicide theory is the fact that she was able to get up and fix breakfast for her housekeeper and a female fan on the morning of her death.)
The Panel (alphabetically by first name)
Cynthia. Longtime Joan fan.
Ed Guinea. Joan historian and interviewer.
Gilda. Longtime Joan fan.
Julie R. Longtime Joan fan.
Michael C. Longtime Joan fan.
Michael F. Longtime Joan fan.
Mike O'Hanlon. Classic film (and Norma Shearer and Joan) fanatic. Visit Mike's Greatest Stars of American Film History site!
Pamela Jordan. Daughter-in-law of Cynthia Crawford Jordan. (Pamela is married to Cynthia's son Jan.)
Patrick. Longtime Joan fan.
Stephanie Jones. Creator of this website. 20-year Joan fan.
Tom Clark. Joan TV historian.