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A Joan Crawford Chronology: 1930s

1930    1931    1932    1933    1934    1935    1936    1937    1938    1939

 

 

1930

January 24. Joan lunches with Ruth Roland, Ann Harding, Kay Hammond, and Anita Stewart at the Embassy Club.

February. Joan is invited to Pickfair-- the famous home of inlaws Doug Fairbanks, Sr., and Mary Pickford-- for the first time, after Fairbanks' friend Lord Mountbatten asks to meet her.

March 3. [from the Hollywood Daily Citizen]

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. will play the second lead in Moby Dick, with John Barrymore, for Warner Bros., according to present plans. He and his wife, Joan Crawford, were at the opening of "Let Us Be Gay" last night, still very much in love and great buddies. Joan is delighted with her next picture for MGM, Our Blushing Brides. "It's a sort of a Dancing Daughters thing but quite the most dramatic and ‘meaty' role I've had in a long time," enthused the always charming and lovely Joan. "Those sort of roles are the ones the audiences seem to like me in, so I suppose that's where I will stay for a while," she said with a sort of wistful note in her voice, for she has always wanted to do strong dramatic things like her idol, Pauline Frederick. Joan at times looks enough like Pauline to be her sister.

March 19. Joan attends wedding of Irene Mayer and William Goetz at the Biltmore Hotel. The week before, Joan and Doug Jr. had been guests at a party for the couple, hosted by Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg at the Ambassador Hotel.

March 20. Montana Moon released.

April. Joan and Doug Jr. attend (1) a premiere performance by Fay Marbe at the Belasco; (2) a masked costume ball held at the home of Ralph Blum and Carmel Myers in honor of newlywed Irene Mayer.

May 15.  [from the LA Evening Herald]

And speaking of sun bathers, Joan Crawford is a "burn all over." Joan hasn't had much time for this languid basking. She has just completed Blushing Brides and in a week or two goes to work in Great Day, adapted by the play of that name, with Johnny Mack Brown her hero.
Incidentally, Joan has joined the finger-nail fad brigade. She dabs her nails a blood red. Meant to ask her how the color photographed. Sometimes red photographs black on the celluloid.

May 23 - 25. Joan one of many stars appearing at the Shrine for the "Milk Fund Show" charity event.

May 26. Joan attends premiere of Hell's Angels.

June 4. Joan attends premiere of Marion Davies' The Floradora Girl.

June 11. [from the LA Evening Herald]

During a search for a new vehicle for Joan Crawford, someone remembered The Taxi Dancer, which she made as a silent picture in 1927. MGM's officials were enthusiastic over the idea, and promptly decreed a new talkie version.
This film will be made sometime in the near future. In the mealtime, Joan leaves for New Orleans this week for some authentic location scenes in Great Day. Johnny Mack Brown, who was born down south (Dothan Ala, to be exact), goes along as her leading man.

July 5. [from the LA Evening Herald]

The skeptics who doubt the artistic hobbies of film stars can take my word for it that Joan Crawford designed all the costumes worn by the Albertina Rasch ballet girls in Our Blushing Brides, the latest of Our Dancing Daughters--Our Modern Maidens series. Joan puts this talent to use at home, too. She and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. have a budget, like other young married folks, and they adhere to it strictly. One of Joan's economies is designing her own clothes. She has them made by a dressmaker, and at a surprisingly small expense. I have her assurance that the complete cost of her latest was $10.31. When she finishes a design she has it made in several color combinations. Sorry, but I can't give you the name of her dressmaker.

July 19. Our Blushing Brides released.

July 20. The Hollywood Daily Citizen reports that Joan, Doug, and Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Howard motor to Lake Norconian. (See the Norconian Club Encyclopedia entry for more info on this resort. Thanks , Dario!)

July 23.  [from the LA Evening Herald]

If Joan Crawford has held any ideas regarding a vacation trip this summer she had better put them out of mind, and only hope that they will materialize sometime next July.
For the next few months promise to be busy ones for the MGM star if one can believe the production schedule. However, that might be changed by tomorrow. It's an old habit around the studios.
But if not, Joan is stuck in Hollywood. She has just started production on The Great Day, and by the time it is finished another story Dance, Fool, Dance, will be ready for her.
Dance, Fool, Dance, while not by any means a sequel to Our Dancing Daughters or Our Modern Maidens, has the same type of sophisticated theme, and tells a story of modern youth.
Harry Beaumont, who has made some of Joan's best pictures, will also direct the star in this story.

September. Joan begins filming Great Day. Joan sees the rushes and appeals to MGM's Mayer to let her out of the picture. Filming is abandoned after 8 weeks.

September 11. Paid starts rehearsals.

November 4. Dance, Fools, Dance begins production.

December 30. Paid released.

 

1931

January 31. Phil Berg becomes Joan's personal manager.

February. Laughing Sinners begins production.

February 11. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Movie Actor Drops Dead at Joan Crawford’s Side

Hollywood, CA [Special] – Norman Phillips, 39-year-old actor, dropped dead while enacting a scene with Joan Crawford on a sound stage today. Injection of adrenalin at the Goldwyn-Mayer hospital failed to revive him. Phillips formerly had been a vaudeville headliner. He is survived by his widow and 12-year-old son.

February 21. Dance, Fools, Dance released. The film co-stars Joan with Clark Gable for the first time.

March - April. This Modern Age in production.

April 7. Joan signs a new contract with MGM, granting her $3, 000 a week, to rise in $500 increments yearly until she'd receive $5, 000 in 1936.

May 25. The Hollywood Daily Citizen reports that Joan will star in The Mirage, based on the play by Edgar Selwyn. The film is later retitled Possessed.

May 30. Laughing Sinners released.

July 24. From the LA Times:

Man Arrested After Tale of Kidnapping Plot

Skeptical of his tale that five mysterious strangers attempted to inveigle him into a plot to kidnap Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and his wife Joan Crawford, Captain of Detectives Clark yesterday held Clarence E. Lenhart, 30 years of age, transient, in the West Los Angeles Police Station jail on a charge of vagrancy.

Lenhart, according to Clark, appeared at the Fairbanks home at 426 Bristol Avenue, Brentwood Heights and recited that since arriving here ten days ago from Texas, five men had plotted the kidnapping and had attempted to get him to take part. Doubting the story, Fairbanks notified police and Capt. Clark responded. Clark assigned two detectives to investigate the spectacular tale.

August 29. This Modern Age released.

September 21. Possessed begins production.

October. Possessed ends production.

November 21. Possessed released.

 

1932

April 9.

LOS ANGELES TIMES

STAR MOURNS DEATH OF PET

Miss Crawford’s Scottie Succumbs

 

Woggles is dead and desolation prevails in the household of his mistress, Joan Crawford, motion picture star, who is broken hearted over the death of the little Scottie who went with her everywhere, even to the extent of several trips to New York.

 

Woggles died yesterday of an ailment diagnosed as acute stomach trouble.  He was two years of age and had been a gift to Miss Crawford from a friend, Allan Vincent. While not one of the canine stars of Hollywood, he was probably one of the most famous of the film capital’s canine set. He had been photographed hundreds of times with Miss Crawford, received a goodly amount of fan mail from juvenile dog lovers and at Christmas time was showered with many gifts including collars, leashes and dog biscuits.

 

April 12. Grand Hotel released.

April 30. Letty Lynton released.

May. After filming of Rain ends, Joan leaves her Brentwood home for a period of seclusion, sans Doug, at a rented Malibu cottage. She also begins studying Christian Science around this time.

May 8. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Suspect Released

Los Angeles (AP)  -- An investigation into what was described by Joan Crawford, film star, as an attempt to extort money was dropped today by the district attorney's office.

Investigators said the actress' apparent fear was based on a note slipped under the door of her home, asking for an appointment.

At the suggestion of investigators, she met the writer, you proved to be an eastern youth. The conversation was recorded on a Dictaphone machine and after being taken into custody and questioned, the youth was released.

Neither the subject of the conversation, the name of the youth, nor an explanation from the actress of what led to her fear of an extortion plot was disclosed.

June - July. MGM arranges a delayed honeymoon trip for Joan and Doug, Jr., whose marriage is troubled. The two sail for England from New York City on the Bremen late in June. Before they leave, they stay at the St. Moritz Hotel (Central Park South) and see Doug, Jr.'s stepfather Jack Whiting perform in the musical "America's Sweetheart." Socialite Barbara Hutton throws a party for them at Casino in the Park; and NYC mayor Jimmy Walker arranges for a motorcycle guard to accompany them to the pier in Brooklyn, where they set sail. They arrive in Southampton and stay at the Berkeley Hotel in Piccadilly. While in London, they attend Noel Coward's "Cavalcade" at the Drury Lane Theater. Coward hosts a party for them; and they are also guests at Coward's and producer Ivor Novello's Kent country homes.

 

July 22. In the LA Times:

Doug and Joan Return Soon By Grace Kingsley

Having been wined and dined in London and having nearly met the Prince of Wales – he was ill – Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Joan Crawford will return to Hollywood soon. To be exact, on August 15.

In the meantime, according to the testimony of some friends, young Doug brings back with him the taste and some of the paraphernalia for English cricket, while Joan has acquired a dog or two of rare breed. Also she has given her pajamas to the poor and is bringing over a supply of Paris tea gowns, which you may or may not know are the latest thing in negligee garb.

 

September 10. The LA preview of Rain takes place on the same day that funeral services are held for producer Paul Bern.

 

September 13. In the LA Times:

Ceremony Will Mark Chinese Late Matinee

One of screenland’s shining lights, Joan Crawford, will take her place Saturday night with the small but select company of seven screen immortals in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The young star, who is also one of the features of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “Hollywood Revue of 1929,” will leave a permanent impression of her hand and foot prints in the flagging of the Chinese forecourt alongside those of Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Norma Talmadge, Constance Talmadge, Gloria Swanson and Tom Mix.

The impressive ceremonies will be witnessed by a brilliant gathering of stars and personalities of screen and stageland. This important event will be open to the public and recorded for future generations by MGM cameramen. Immediately following the ceremonies the curtain of Grauman’s Chinese Theater will rise on the forty-ninth weekly Billion Dollar Mid-Night Matinee.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “Hollywood Revue of 1929” enters its last days, and is slated to be followed by “The Cock-Eyed World” on the 24th.

 

September 18.  In the LA Times:

Is Joan Crawford getting a retinue complex? At the premiere of “Rain” she appeared attended by the following:

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (of course), William Haines, Alexander Kirkland, Robert Young and Robert Montgomery. All men, with the exception that Mrs. Montgomery was with Bob.

 

September 24 - 25. A delegation of Hollywood stars, including Joan, greets presidential candidate Franklin Roosevelt in Los Angeles during his September/October train trip to Western stops.

Mr. Hearst's Examiner announced: "A group of famous film stars will meet the Governor and help make his visit an eventful one. . . . Marion Davies, famous motion picture star, is chairman of the distinguished aggregation. . . . The following will assist Miss Davies: Joan Blondell, Bebe Daniels, Constance Bennett, Helen Hayes, Sally Eilers, Marie Dressier, Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard..." (Time Magazine, 9/19/32)

 

October 12. Rain released nationwide.

November 10. Actor Leslie Howard escorts Joan to seasonal opening of the Mayfair Club at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.

December. Today We Live begins production. Joan meets Franchot Tone for the first time.

 

1933

March. Doug Fairbanks Jr. sued by an irate husband for "alienation of affections" of his wife.

March 3. Today We Live released.

March 17. Joan announces at her Brentwood home that she and Doug Fairbanks Jr. are separating. She adds that they have no plans to divorce.

May 13. Joan and Doug Fairbanks, Jr., divorce.

June. Dancing Lady begins production.

Summer-Fall. Joan and actor Franchot Tone seen together frequently.

October. Dancing Lady ends production.

November 24. Dancing Lady released.

 

1934

[Joan meets her father Thomas LeSueur for the first and last time when he comes to visit her on the set of Chained.]

Spring. Joan, influenced by Franchot's roots in the New York theater, adds a small theater to her Brentwood home. (She also adds a bath-house and swimming pool, whose roots can probably be attributed to: "How neat to have a bath-house and swimming pool!") Around this time, Joan lists her "five closest friends" as Tone, actress Jean Dixon, actor Francis Lederer, writer Lynn Riggs, and publicity man Jerry Asher. The six often get together on Saturday nights at Joan's home.

May 9. Sadie McKee released.

June 12. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Gable Sprains Neck Looking at Crawford

By George Shaffer

Clark Gable turned quickly to look at Joan Crawford in a scene of “Sacred and Profane Love” yesterday and sprained his neck and left shoulder so badly they had to be treated in the MGM studio hospital.

I inquired what Joan was wearing and it was a modernized hoop skirt. Joan made Clark feel better today. She went up to him on the set and presented him an engraved cigarette lighter. Asked the reason, Joan said, “Just because he’s a swell guy.”

September 1. Chained released.

December 10. Joan signs a new 3-year deal with MGM. She'll now receive $7, 500 a week the first year, $8, 500 the second, and $9, 500 the third, for 44 weeks of each year.

December 23. Forsaking All Others released.

 

1935

March 12. No More Ladies begins production. Filming ends in April.

June 3. I Live My Life begins production.

June 14. No More Ladies released.

July. I Live My Life ends production.

Summer. After filming Mutiny on the Bounty with Gable, Franchot Tone is loaned by Metro to Warners to appear with Bette Davis in Dangerous. Davis falls in love with him, arranging for extra rehearsal time, and Joan subsequently becomes a frequent visitor on the set.

September 30. Joan and Franchot arrive in New York City so she can meet some of his Group Theater friends. While in town, they see Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in their play "The Taming of the Shrew."

October. While in New York with Franchot, Joan appears on her first radio show: as "Mary Turner" in Radio Theatre's "Paid." (Joan's movie version of the same role had been released in 1930.)

October 4. I Live My Life released.

October 10. Joan and Franchot attend the Broadway premiere of "Porgy and Bess" at the Alvin Theater in NYC.

October 11. Joan marries Tone in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. That night, the couple dine and drink at Manhattan's Stork Club, not telling their celebrity companions of their wedding. Columnist Walter Winchell is the only one in the know and the world learns of their nuptials in his column a day or so later.  The couple honeymoon briefly at the Waldorf Astoria. (On their wedding night, Joan also receives an anonymous call offering to sell her a stag reel in which she had allegedly appeared. Joan refers the caller to MGM's legal team, who view the reel and deny that the girl in the film is Joan.)

October 15. Joan, sitting in the 15th row, attends the opening of the Philip Barry play "Bright Star" at the Empire Theatre on Broadway. (The show closes after 5 days.)

 

1936

April 27. Gorgeous Hussy production begins. It ends filming in June.

July. Joan is on hand -- with Clark Gable, Franchot Tone, Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow, and Harry M. Daugherty -- to greet the winner of the Chicago Yacht Club's 29th Mackinac Race. (Time Magazine, 7/27/36)

July 27. Joan appears with Franchot Tone on the Lux Radio Theater's version of her movie Chained.

August 28. The Gorgeous Hussy released.

November 20. Love on the Run released.

November 27. The Last of Mrs. Cheyney production begins.

 

1937

[Joan and Franchot host reception for conductor Leopold Stokowski at the Ambassador Hotel. Joan also begins studying opera and has herself recorded singing duets from La Traviata and Don Giovanni with baritone Douglas MacPhail. Also this year, Joan is considered for the part of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind.]

February. Joan named "Queen of the Movies" by Life magazine.

February 3. The Last of Mrs. Cheyney production ends.

February 19. The Last of Mrs. Cheyney released.

May 10. Joan appears with Franchot Tone and Judith Anderson on Lux Radio Theater's "Mary, Queen of Scots."

June 5. The Bride Wore Red production begins.

July 15. The Chicago Tribune reports:

War on Spiders After Attack on Crawford

Hollywood, CA – After Joan Crawford was bitten by a spider studio attendants were directed to spray the entire set of “The Bride Wore Red” with insecticide every day. Miss Crawford was bitten on the right arm, which swelled considerably. The spider hurried away so fast neither the actress nor anyone else was aware of what kind of spider it was.

August 10.  The Bride Wore Red production ends. Also on this day, a former fan and employee of Joan's, Dorothy Rogers, sues Joan for $50,000, claiming that Joan had had her fired from her RKO studio job. Joan and Rogers settle the case out of court days later.

September 7. Mannequin production begins. Joan and Spencer Tracy have affair while filming.

October 15. The Bride Wore Red released.

October 25. Mannequin production ends.

December. Joan goes to NYC to scout out plays that might prove to be suitable vehicles for her onscreen.

 

1938

January 3. Joan attends the West Coast premiere of "Porgy and Bess" in Pasadena.

January 20. Mannequin released.

February 7. Joan appears on the Lux Radio Theater's version of "Anna Christie," co-starring with Spencer Tracy, George Marion, and Marjorie Rambeau.

March. After seeing the soon-to-be released movie Three Comrades in production, Joan asks MGM producer Hunt Stromberg to have the movie's screenwriter F. Scott Fitzgerald write something for her. (The project is never realized.)

April 24. Joan is escorted by Gary Cooper to a Screen Actors Guild party at the Cocoanut Grove.

Spring. Harry Brandt, an independent theater owner, writes in the Independent Film Journal that certain stars no longer are big box office (though he attributes this primarily to the poorer quality of the films themselves). The stars he mentions include Joan, and the "Box Office Poison" tag is attached to her.

May. Joan's agent Mike Levee negotiates a new contract for her with MGM. The contract calls for $330,000 a year for 5 years, with a limit of 15 pictures.

June 6. Joan appears as "Nora" on Lux Radio Theater's "A Doll's House." Basil Rathbone co-stars.

June 13. Joan, while at the Turf Club at Hollywood Park, reports to the LA Evening Herald-Express that, despite ongoing rumors, she and Franchot are NOT divorcing.

July 20. Joan and Franchot announce via an MGM press release that they're divorcing: "We regret this action, but we believe it is the best way out for our future happiness."

August 22. The Shining Hour production begins.

October 3. The Shining Hour production ends.

October. Ice Follies of 1939 production begins.

November 7. Joan signs membership application for the American Federation of Radio Artists.

November 18. The Shining Hour released.

 

1939

January 8. Joan appears on the Screen Guild Theater's "Variety" radio program as herself.

March 10. The Ice Follies of 1939 released.

April 11. Joan and Franchot Tone officially divorce.

April 25. The Women begins production.

May 7. Joan appears on the Silver Theater's radio program "Train Ride" as "Mary Crane."

June 11. Christina Crawford born at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. Joan gets the child from a baby broker a few weeks later and names her "Joan Crawford, Jr," although the adoption is not official until next year.

July 7. The Women ends production.

September 1. The Women released.

October 15. Joan appears on the Screen Guild Theater's radio program "None Shall Part Us" as "Sarah Farrington." Lew Ayres, Ronald Colman, and Montague Love co-star.

October 17. Strange Cargo begins production.

November 27 - 29. MGM files show that Joan was "depressed" and unable to work for these 3 days during filming of Strange Cargo.

December 28. Strange Cargo ends production.

December 31. Joan attends a New Year's Eve party at the home of Basil Rathbone to benefit British War Relief. She arrives with five male escorts.

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