The Best of Everything

Chronology Main

 

A Joan Crawford Chronology: 1950s

1950     1951     1952     1953     1954     1955     1956     1957     1958     1959

 

 

1950

[Joan begins dating director Vincent Sherman after filming for The Damned Don't Cry gets underway.]

 

February. Joan enrolls 10-year-old daughter Christina at the Chadwick School in Palos Verdes, California.

April 7. The Damned Don't Cry released.

April 24. From the New York Times (via the United Press):

Joan Crawford to Adopt Fifth Child Girl of Five

HOLLYWOOD, April 23 Joan Crawford, film star, said today she would adopt a 5-year-old girl when she goes East within a few months.

The child will be the fifth she has adopted. She already has a daughter, Christina, 10, a son, Christopher, 7, and twin girls, Cathy and Cindy, 3.

Miss Crawford said she planned to go East when she finished her current picture and would bring the girl home with her. She said she decided to adopt the child because the age difference between the twins and Christopher was too great.

May 26. Joan and David Brian reprise their roles in Flamingo Road for the Screen Director's Playhouse radio show of the same name.

November 2. Harriet Craig released.

 

1951

[Joan and Vincent Sherman stop dating.]

 

Early Spring. 11-year-old Christina has sex for the first time with a boy from her boarding school. Joan is quite irate.

March 22. Joan stars on the Suspense radio show in "Three Lethal Words" as "Jane Winters."

April 5. Joan reprises her role as "Lorna Hansen Forbes" on the Screen Director's Playhouse radio version of The Damned Don't Cry. Frank Lovejoy co-stars.

April 29. Joan is escorted by Russell Nype to a party at the Stork Club in her honor.

May 30. Goodbye, My Fancy released.

October 6. Joan appears as herself on the "Stars Over Hollywood" radio program "I Knew This Woman."

November 30. Joan attends a Beverly Hills Hotel party in honor of Dinah Shore and her new TV show.

 

1952

February 28. This Woman Is Dangerous released.

March 1. Joan appears as "Florence Jennings" on the "Stars Over Hollywood" radio program "When the Police Arrive."

June. Joan sees The King and I in New York and visits Yul Brynner backstage. The next day he sends her a photo of himself with a hard-on; they--surprise!--begin a brief affair.

Late Summer. Joan is invited by the New American Library of New York to contribute a brief autobiography for their book Four Figures in the Amusement Field. (The other three figures are composer W.C. Handy, Babe Ruth, and Joe Louis.)

August 6. Sudden Fear released.

Fall. Joan gives Noel Coward a formal dinner at Le Pavilion in Hollywood. The 200 guests include her former husbands Doug Jr. and Franchot. Greg Bautzer is her co-host.

 

1953

[This year the press links Joan romantically with Kleenex heir James Kimberly, director David Miller, agent Jennings Lang, director Nicholas Ray, gigolo Porfirio Rubirosa, actor Jeff Chandler, and Rock Hudson. Eddie Fisher and Tony Curtis later report that she made passes at them. Also this year, Joan is voted "Favorite Actress" by Photoplay magazine.]

 

January. After agreeing to play "Karen Holmes" in From Here to Eternity (to be billed second, after Clift and before Lancaster, with $100, 000 and a percentage of profits), Joan argues with Columbia Pictures over the script and wardrobe and leaves the picture.

February. Joan attends the Photoplay awards dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel and is incensed by Marilyn Monroe's provocative entrance. Also this month she works at Paramount on an Irving Asher-produced film called Lisbon, an international spy tale. The film never gels and is scrapped.

March 2. Reporter Bob Thomas posts an AP story quoting Joan extensively on her distaste for Monroe.

March. Reportedly Joan and Universal Studios boss Milton Rachmil are scheduled to be married this month. Before leaving for the Las Vegas wedding, the two argue about who will be dropped off first at their studios. The wedding is cancelled.

Early March. At the Metro studios Joan films a brief appeal to raise money for the United Cerebral Palsy Drive to be shown in movie-houses. It's her first time at her old studio since leaving in 1943. Also this month, MGM's Benny Thau sends Joan a script for Torch Song.

March 19. Joan attends the first televised Academy Awards show.

June. Joan begins work on her first major feature at Metro since 1943, Torch Song, which is in production for 18 days this month.She often sleeps at the studio during the making of the film.

August. Joan and Christina get into a physical brawl. Joan calls a juvenile officer to the house.

September. Joan tells Christina and Christopher that she's unable to pay full tuition for them at Chadwick. The two go on work scholarship.

September 19. Joan appears in TV's Revlon Mirror Theater's show "Because I Love Him."

October 19. Johnny Guitar begins its 44-day Sedona, Arizona, location shooting (which ends in mid-December).

October 23. Torch Song released.

 

1954

[Thanks to Norman of San Diego for info for the following 1954 dates: 7/1, 9/12, 9/16, 10/1, 10/22, 10/24, 10/25, 11/12.]

 

May 27. Johnny Guitar released.

June. Joan gives Christina a surprise 15th-birthday party. Joan, Christina, three school friends, and Joan's agent Jennings Lang and wife dine and dance at Mocambo.

July 1. The LA Times reports:

Disturbance Laid to Man at Premiere

Had Ticket, Insists Suspect Arrested by Studio Officer

A man who says he is acquainted with many Hollywood stars and offers photographs to prove it was charged with disturbing the peace yesterday following his arrest Tuesday night at the invitational premiere of "About Mrs. Leslie.

Police said Charles William Johnson, 30, of 433 S. Berendo St., was arrested by a studio chief security officer in Joan Crawford's automobile after twice attempting to enter the Four Star Theater at 5112 Wilshire Blvd. without a ticket.

Shows His Ticket

But Johnson contended yesterday that he had a ticket and produced one for newspapermen, along with tickets and programs from several other premieres and photographs showing him posing with various top stars in night clubs.

When he appeared for arraignment yesterday before Municipal Judge Martin Kats, Johnson complained that he had been "assaulted" by a police sergeant. Ha exhibited a bruise on his left wrist caused, he said, by handcuffs being clamped tightly on him.

He asked for a continuance of a month to seek legal counsel and medical treatment but Judge Kats ordered him to re-turn next Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. to enter his plea. He is free on $100 bail.

Had Seen Picture

Johnson protested that he had already viewed the studio screening of the picture. He said he went to the premiere to help the crew telecasting the arrival of stars, but was given the "bum's rush" by studio officials.

A block away, he said, he spied Studio Executive Don Hartman driving up to the entrance and asked for a ride. Hartman invited him to go along, he said, but guards at the theater again banished him.

Johnson then struck up conversation with chauffeurs in the theater parking lot and seated himself in Miss Crawford's car. He said he had known the star about six months and wanted to see her.

Spends Night in Jail

But when Miss Crawford's car was called for at the theater entrance and Johnson was in it when it arrived there, he was seized by William F. Combs, chief security officer for Paramount, and was placed under arrest with the help of eight uniformed policemen. He spent the night in jail.

Johnson, who gave his occupation as purchaser and said he is employed by a small company which makes camera equipment, protested that Miss Crawford assured him yesterday he "could sit in her car any time I want to."

August. Joan throws a $5000 party for 200 guests, including Judy Garland.

September. Twins Cathy and Cindy join Chris and Christina at Chadwick School. Joan tells the school's administrators that she is unable to pay any of the children's tuition.

September 12. Queen Bee author Edna Lee writes to Joan:

Dear Joan Crawford:

At last I'm home from Atlanta and before old routine gets to me I must tell you how deeply I appreciated the graciousness which prompted you to call me long distance. It was a very real thrill not only to me but to my sister and her 10-year-old son. Especially for the last. For days he trooped in with dozens of his buddies to see "his aunt who talked to Joan Crawford."

Seriously, I am delighted at the chance of your doing the Queen Bee for as I said over the phone (and sincerely meant) you can do it magnificently. In fact, thinking of you in the role convinces me that you are the only star who could give Eva the calculating, greedy, destructiveness, and at the same time preserve the illusive intangible "something" which won others over at first, convinced them she was lovely and "sweet."

I'll be waiting with my fingers crossed of course. And wishing for you - whether you do Queen Bee or not - all the wonderful success you so richly deserve.

September 16.  Ned Brown of MCA writes to Joan to tell her that the publishers report that Queen Bee has total sales of 750,000 copies, "which no matter how you slice it is one helluva lot of books."

September 29. Joan appears on Steve Allen's Tonight Show.

October 1. MCA receives word from the publisher of the Queen Bee novel that the author, Edna Lee, does own the movie rights to the story.

October 22. Joan options Queen Bee from author Edna Lee for $1,500. If Joan picks the option up, Lee will be paid $13,500.

October 24. Joan assigns her right, title, and interest in the literary property Queen Bee to Joan Crawford Enterprises, Inc., a California corporation.

October 25. Joan signs a one-picture actors' contract with Columbia for Queen Bee. Starting date is slated as February 28, 1955. Basic compensation is $37,500. Crawford is not required to report to the set before 9 a.m. or work after 6 p.m. or Sundays or holidays except in cases of emergency. Crawford's contract specifies that the studio will not use a "double" or a "dub" of Crawford except for foreign exhibition, when the corporation decides that a hazardous act might injure her, or to expeditiously meet censorship requirements. The contract specifically approves Ranald McDougall as writer and director, Charles Lang as cameraman, Jerry Wald as producer, and Jean Louis as costumer. Crawford was given the right to designate her make-up man and hairdresser, who would be paid by the studio. Crawford's name on all materials was to be in type at least as large as the title. No one else's name could be larger than 75 percent of her name. Crawford also received a percentage of the gross.

October 31. Joan appears on GE Theater's "The Road to Edinburgh."

November 12.  Joan exercises her option for Queen Bee.

November. Joan tells Christina over the phone that if she doesn't have a Christmas card list ready, then she's not coming home for Thanksgiving. The two get into a screaming match and Joan says that none of the children will come home and that she's withdrawing all of them from Chadwick School. The children all have Thanksgiving dinner with the Chadwicks. All are withdrawn from the school within a week. Christina is driven straight to Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.

December 31. Joan, spending New Year's Eve alone on the empty set of Female on the Beach, receives a "Happy Holidays" call from Pepsi executive Alfred Steele in Las Vegas. (A few days later, his impending divorce from Wife 2 is announced in the papers.)

 

1955

March. Queen Bee begins production. Joan and co-star John Ireland have fling on the set.

April 20.  Joan serves as hostess at the grand opening of the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. (Liberace is the featured performer.)

May 9. Joan and Al Steele dine at Romanoff's in Los Angeles. He convinces her to elope rather than wait for their originally planned wedding date of May 24, which was to have been held at the New Jersey home of MCA executive Sonny Werblin.

May 10. Joan marries Alfred Steele at 2am in the penthouse of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas.

June. Joan and Al visit Capri, Italy, then Paris and the south of France. Joan meets Steele's daughter Sally in Paris.

July. Joan and Al return by ship to New York City from the 13th through the 18th. The following week they stay at his 36 Sutton Place So. apartment, then travel to Los Angeles.

August 20. Female on the Beach released.

September 4. Joan appears on TV's Colgate Variety Hour.

November. Joan and Al travel to Detroit, Chicago, Portland, and San Francisco. Home at Brentwood for the Thanksgiving holidays, Christina meets Al Steele for the first time.

November 7. Queen Bee released.

December 8. Joan, Al, and all four kids board a train for New York City. They arrive 3 days later.

December 16. The family sails aboard the Cunard luxury liner Queen Mary for Europe.

December 21. The family arrives in Cherbourg, France, and takes a train to Paris. Once there, they freshen up at the George V Hotel then take a night-train to Switzerland.

December 22. They change trains to go to the Swiss Alps, then horse-drawn sleighs take them to the Palace Hotel at St. Moritz.

December 24. The family has champagne and caviar while opening Christmas gifts.

December 26. Al takes Chris and Christina to the Olympic ski-jumping trials. Joan, in a mood, stays home. She and Al fight when he returns.

December 31. On their last night in St. Moritz, Joan throws party for writer Paul Gallico.

 

1956

[Al Steele purchases the top two floors of the building at 70th Street and Fifth Ave., overlooking Central Park. Extensive renovations begin. A lawsuit filed by a downstairs neighbor because of the noise is later dropped. Joan's old friend Billy Haines is in charge of the decorating.]

 

January 2. The family takes overnight train back to Paris, where they check in to the George V Hotel.

January 5. After 3 days of sightseeing in Paris, the family takes the Blue Train to Cannes.

January 6. The family lunches, then departs on the Andrea Doria.

January 7. The ship docks in Naples. The family disembarks to visit Pompeii. On their way back, a poverty-stricken crowd gathers and turns violent, pulling at Joan's jewelry. The family is forced to run for their jalopy-like "limos" that whisk them back to the ship.

January. At one point during the sail home, Joan slaps Christina when the latter gives Al a goodnight kiss, saying "I got my man, now you damn well go out and get your own." A day after arriving in NYC, Chris and the twins fly home to California. Christina stays for another week; she and Joan are being written up for a Woman's Home Companion article. (Joan and Al are staying at the Hampshire House hotel, since she says his Sutton Place apartment is too small.)

February. Joan accompanies Al on his business trip to Jamaica.

March 1. Joan and Al sail back from Jamaica to New York's Hampshire House, arriving March 6.

June. Joan, working on Autumn Leaves, is too busy to attend Christina's June 12 graduation from Flintridge.

August. Joan puts her Brentwood home up for sale. She begins shooting The Story of Esther Costello in England.

August 2. Autumn Leaves released.

August 7. Joan and Al are interviewed for the BBC's Picture Parade.

October 29. Joan is presented to Queen Elizabeth II in London's Empire Theater.

November 9. Joan is interviewed for the BBC's A - Z program.

November. After a 3-week extended trip in America to establish Joan's son Christopher in a new school in Arizona and to attend to business, Al returns to London for Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, Joan learns by phone that Christopher has run away from the Arizona school.

 

1957

[In the early part of the year, Joan and Al Steele tour the US on behalf of Pepsi. Among the stops are Ottawa, Kansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Joplin, Missouri.]

 

March. Christina lunches with Joan and Al at "21" in NYC.

March 2. Joan appears on TV's Caesar's Hour.

March 13. Joan writes a friend that Al has been admitted to the New York Hospital and will be there for 10 days.

June 11. Al gives Christina his '57 Thunderbird convertible for her 18th birthday.

Summer. Joan and Al tour Europe, the Middle East, and Africa on behalf of Pepsi.

Late September. After a visit to Washington, D.C., Joan and Al return to NYC. Joan sends over some gaudy green and yellow furniture (plus fake ivy) to Christina's first apartment on the far East Side in NYC.

November 6. The Story of Esther Costello released.

December 8. Joan appears on What's My Line?

 

1958

January 27. Joan and Al are interviewed for the TV program Tonight! America After Dark.

February. Joan and Al move into their renovated apartment at 2 East 70th Street.

March 23. Joan appears on GE Theater's "Strange Witness."

May 11. Joan's 15-year-old son Christopher is arraigned in New York, along with 3 other boys, on charges of juvenile delinquency, for shooting air rifles while joy-riding and slightly injuring a girl. (Chris has been staying in New York with a child psychiatrist.)

June 29. The LA Times announces that Christopher has been sent to a private school for disturbed and delinquent youth.

Early August. Joan and Al vacation in Bermuda.

August 14. Joan's mother Anna Bell dies at 6 am. (Anna Bell and Joan's brother Hal had been living together at 105 S. Mansfield Ave. in Los Angeles.) She is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Joan cuts her Bermuda vacation short to attend the funeral.

September. Christina sees Al Steele for the last time, at the 70th St. apartment. Joan and Al try to convince Christina to stay in school rather than quitting to become an actress. Joan subsequently cuts Christina off financially. A couple of weeks later, Al secretly sends his valet to Christina's apartment with a gift of $100.

October 15. Joan appears on The Bob Hope Buick Show.

 

1959

January 4. Joan appears in GE Theater's "And One Was Loyal."

February. Joan and Al vacation in Jamaica, returning to the States February 26.

April 17. In Washington, D.C., Al Steele, with Joan at his side, presents Senator John F. Kennedy with an award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

April 19. Alfred Steele dies of heart failure at the couple's New York City apartment.

April 21. Joan is elected to fill Steele's position on the Pepsi board of directors.

April 22. Steele's funeral is held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in NYC.

May 15. Joan appears on TV in a pilot episode, "Woman on the Run," for a proposed Joan Crawford Show. (The show was not picked up.)

June. Joan films her small part in The Best of Everything. Photographer Eve Arnold takes many photos on the set, some of which appear in a Life magazine photo-essay the week of the film's release in October.

October 9. The Best of Everything released.

October 11. Joan appears in TV's "A Tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt on Her Diamond Jubilee."

December 3. Joan appears in Zane Grey Theater's "Rebel Range."

1900s/1910s     1920s     1930s     1940s     1950s    1960s   1970s on