Lucille LeSueur's parents separated before she was born. By age 16 she had three different stepfathers, one of whom (a vaudeville theater manager) had given her the name Billie Cassin. By 1915 she, her brother Hal and their mother lived in Kansas City, and Billie worked in a laundry with her mother and also as a menial to pay school tuition. Winning an amateur dance contest in 1923 led to chorus work in Chicago, Detroit and New York. On New Year's Day of 1925 she left for Hollywood. Before her second picture, a Photoplay contest led to the name Joan Crawford. With Our Dancing Daughters (1928) she became a star. She had a string of successes playing socialites or rags-to-riches shop girls, most notably as Crystal Allen in The Women (1939). She stayed with MGM for 18 years, signing with Warners in 1943. Mildred Pierce (1945) was a defining role and won her an Oscar.
After more than 70 films, she married Alfred Steele, chairman of the board of the Pepsi-Cola Co., a company with which she remained as a board member and spokesman after her husband's fatal heart attack in 1959. In 1972 when the company's executives saw no further use for her, they pushed her out. After that, she referred to the CEO as "Fang".
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) brought new careers to both Crawford and Bette Davis in 1962--although the two despised each other--but the ensuing roles were neither numerous nor flattering. Horrified by a photo taken of her in 1974, she retired completely, devoting herself to Christian Science and the increasing use of vodka. Her four adopted children received little from her $2-million estate: $77,500 each for Cathy and Cindy, nothing for Christopher or Christina Crawford "for reasons best known to them".
Joan Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur on March 23, 1905 in San Antonio, Texas. Her parents were already separated before the birth. Her mother had trouble keeping husbands after having married three times. Joan was fond of dancing and had entered several dance contests. She wanted a career in show business because it was much more glamorous than the odd jobs she was working. One dance contest she won landed her in a chorus line. Before long, Joan found herself dancing in the big cities of the Mid-West and along the Atlantic coast. After almost two years dancing, Joan decided to take a chance, packed her bags and moved to Hollywood. She felt movies might afford her a chance of fame and glory and she was determined to succeed. Not long after arriving in California, Joan got her first bit role as a showgirl in Pretty Ladies (1925) in 1925. Three other films quickly followed. Although the roles weren't much to speak of, Joan continued to toil away. Throughout 1927 and the first part of 1928, Joan was handed menial roles. That ended with the role of Diana Medford in Our Dancing Daughters (1928). The film was the one to get her elevated to star status. She had made the tough hurdle of making the big time. Now she was faced with another. The "talkie" era was upon the movie colony and many stars of the era were suddenly worried about their futures. With silent pictures, it didn't matter what kind of voice you had, but with sound pictures it made a tremendous difference. While some stars saw their livelihood halted, Joan's strong voice enabled her to continue. Her first film with sound was in Untamed (1929). The film was a success and Joan's career was still in top form. As she entered the 1930s, Joan became one of the top stars in the MGM stable. Films such as Grand Hotel (1932), Sadie McKee (1934), No More Ladies (1935), and Love on the Run (1936), kept movie patrons and film executives happy. Joan was in top form.
By the time the 1940s rolled around, Joan noticed MGM wasn't giving her the plum roles which once came her way. There were new stars in town and the public wanted to see them. She left MGM and went to rival Warner Brothers Studio where she landed the role of a lifetime. In 1945, Joan landed the lead in Mildred Pierce (1945), a film depicting the rise of a housewife to a successful businesswoman. The film landed Joan her first and only Oscar for Best Actress. The following year she appeared with John Garfield in the well-received Humoresque (1946). In 1947, Joan landed the role of Louise Graham in Possessed (1947). Again she was nominated for a Best Actress from the Academy, but lost to Loretta Young in The Farmer's Daughter (1947).
Joan continued to pick and choose what roles she wanted. 1952 saw Joan nominated for a third time for her role of Myra Hudson in Sudden Fear (1952). Thistime the coveted Oscar went to Shirley Booth in Come Back, Little Sheba (1952). Her career slowed down tremendously after that. Movie after movie saw her relegated to menial roles, with the exception of 1962's What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) with her arch-rival, Bette Davis. They both detested each other. By now the feud, between the two was well-known. No one is sure exactly how it started, but one time Miss Davis said of Joan, "She's slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie." In return Joan said, "I don't hate Bette Davis even though the press wants me to. I resent her. I don't see how she built a career out of a set of mannerisms, instead of real acting ability. Take away the pop eyes, the cigarette, and those funny clipped words and what have you got? She's phony, but I guess the public really likes that".
Her final appearance on the silver screen was a 1970 flop called Trog (1970). Turning to vodka more and more, she was hardly seen afterward. On May 10, 1977, Joan died of cancer in New York City. She was 72 years old. After Joan cut her adopted daughter Christina and son Christopher out of her will, Christina wrote a tell-all book called "Mommie Dearest", published in 1978. The book cast Joan in a negative light and was cause for much debate, particularly among her friends and acquaintances, including Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Crawford's first husband. In 1981 'Faye Dunaway' starred in _Mommie Dearest (1981)' which did well at the box office.
She is interred in the same mausoleum as fellow MGM star Judy Garland, in Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.
|Alfred Steele||(14 January 1956 - 6 April 1959) (his death)|
|Phillip Terry||(21 July 1942 - 25 April 1946) (divorced) 2 children|
|Franchot Tone||(11 October 1935 - 11 April 1939) (divorced)|
|Douglas Fairbanks Jr.||(3 June 1929 - 12 May 1933) (divorced)|
Glamorous sense of fashion
Frequently played women put through an extensive amount of suffering
Entered Stephens College, a posh university for women in Columbia, Missouri in 1922, however she left before her first academic year was over as she felt she was not academically prepared for university.
Worked as an elevator operator at Harzfeld's Department Store in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
Each time Crawford married, she changed the name of her Brentwood estate and installed all new toilet seats.
Interred at Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York, USA.
Was asked to take over Carole Lombard 's role in They All Kissed the Bride (1942) after Lombard died in a air crash returning from a war bond tour. Crawford then donated all of her salary to the Red Cross, who found Lombard's body, and promptly fired her agent for taking his usual 10%.
She was so dedicated to her fans that she always personally responded to her fan mail by typing them responses on blue paper and autographing it. A great deal of her spare time and weekends were spent doing this.
After her friend Steven Spielberg hit it big, Joan sent him periodic notes of congratulations. The last one came two weeks before her death.
Cartoonist Milton Caniff claimed he created the character of "Dragon Lady" for his popular "Terry and the Pirates" comic strip, based on Joan Crawford.
Born at 10:00 PM.
She had a cleanliness obsession. She used to wash her hands every ten minutes and follow guests around her house wiping everything they touched, especially doorknobs and pieces from her china set. She would never smoke a cigarette unless she opened the pack herself, and would never use another cigarette out of that pack if someone else had touched it.
Was forced by MGM boss Louis B. Mayer to drop her real name Lucille LeSueur because it sounded too much like "sewer".
Her 1933 contract with MGM was so detailed and binding, it even had a clause in it indicating what time she was expected to be in bed each night.
She was named as 'the other woman' in at least two divorces.
Whenever she stayed in a hotel, no matter how good and well-reputed it was, Joan always scrubbed the bathroom herself before using it.
In the early 1930s, tired of playing fun-loving flappers, Joan wanted to change her image. Thin lips would not do for her, she wanted big lips. Ignoring Crawford's natural lip contours, Max Factor ran a smear of color across her upper and lower lips; it was just what she wanted. To Max, the Crawford look, which became her trademark, was always 'the smear'. To the public, it became known as 'Hunter's Bow Lips'. Crawford is often credited as helping to rout America's prejudice against lipstick.
After hearing that a plumber had used a toilet after installing it in her Brentwood home, she immediately had the fixture and pipes ripped out and replaced.
Her cleanliness obsession lead her to prefer showers to tubs, as she abhorred sitting in her own bathwater.
Despite being a big star, Crawford really didn't appear in that many film classics. One she missed out on was From Here to Eternity (1953) in 1953. When the domineering actress insisted that her costumes be designed by Sheila O'Brien, studio head Harry Cohn replaced her with Deborah Kerr.
In her final years at MGM, Crawford was handed weak scripts in the hopes that she'd break her contract. Two films she hungered to appear in were Random Harvest (1942) and Madame Curie (1943). Both films went to bright new star Greer Garson instead, and Crawford left the studio soon after.
"Joan Arden" was chosen as the young star's screen name after a write-in contest was held in the pages of "Movie Weekly" magazine, but a bit player came forward and said she was already using it. Mrs. Marie M. Tisdale, a crippled woman living in Albany, New York, won $500 for submitting the runner-up name "Joan Crawford".
She disliked her 'new' name and initially encouraged others to pronounce it Jo-Anne Crawford. In private, she liked to be referred to as Billie.
It was recently learned from an excellent, detailed and objective TV biography of her (including information from Christina Crawford) that Joan Crawford's hatred of wire hangers derived from her poverty as a child and her experiences working with her mother in what must have been a grim job in a laundry. [6 August 2002]
Joan always considered The Unknown (1927) a big turning point for her. She said it wasn't until working with Lon Chaney in this film that she learned the difference between standing in front of a camera and acting in front of a camera. She said that was all due to Lon Chaney and his intense concentration, and after that experience she said she worked much harder to become a better actress.
Sister of actor Hal Le Sueur.
Because Joan was bullied and shunned at Stephens College by the other students due to her poor homelife, she answered every single piece of fanmail she received in her lifetime except those from former classmates at Stephens.
Decided to adopt children after suffering a series of miscarriages with her husbands and being told by doctors that she would never be able to have a baby.
Drank excessively and smoked until she began practicing Christian Science, at which time she abruptly quit smoking. The amount she drank decreased substantially for decades, but then increased during the 1960s and 1970s as her career wound down and health problems increased.
During her later years, Crawford was drinking up to a quart of vodka a day.
When her daughter Christina Crawford decided to become an actress, Joan demanded that she change her last name, so it wouldn't appear that Christina was using it to further her career. Christina refused.
Joan adopted all of her children except Christopher Crawford while she was unmarried. Since the state of California did not allow single men and women to adopt children at that time, Joan had to search for agencies in the eastern United States. The agency in charge of the adoption of Christina Crawford was later uncovered as part of a black market baby ring.
As a child, Joan was playing in the front yard of her home in Texas when she got a large piece of glass lodged in her foot. After it was removed, doctors told her she would likely never walk again without a limp. Joan was determined to be a dancer, so she practiced walking and dancing every day for over six months until she was able to walk without pain. Not only did she make a full recovery, she also fulfilled her dream of becoming a chorus dancer.
Joan was dancing in a chorus line in 1925 when she was spotted by MGM and offered a screen test. Joan, who wanted more than anything to continue dancing, turned down the offer at first. But another chorus girl persuaded Joan to try the test, and a few weeks later she was put under contract.
When Joan adopted her eldest daughter, Christina Crawford, she first named her 'Joan, Jr.'. Baby pictures from the book 'Mommie, Dearest' show baby Christina lying on a towel with 'Joan, Jr.' monogrammed on it. Later, for reasons that can only be speculated, Joan changed the baby's name to Christina. Joan did the same thing to her adopted son, who was named 'Phillip Terry, Jr.', after the man that Joan was married to at the time he was adopted. After her divorce to Phillip Terry was finalized, Joan changed the boy's name to Christopher.
Joan adopted another son in the early 1940s, but during a magazine interview, she disclosed the location of his birth, and his biological mother showed up at her Brentwood home wanting the baby back. Thinking that a fight would hurt the well-being of the child, Joan gave him back to his mother, who then sold him to another family.
Joan never liked the name "Crawford", saying to friend, actor William Haines that it sounded too much like "Crawfish". He replied that it was much better than "Cranberry," which became the nickname he used for Crawford for over 50 years.
Blue Öyster Cult wrote a song about her, titled "Joan Crawford".
Her little tap dancing in The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929) was the first audible tap dance on the screen.
Her Oscar statuette for Mildred Pierce (1945) went on auction after her death and sold for $68,000. The auction house had predicted a top bid of $15,000.
Her popularity grew so quickly after her name was changed to Joan Crawford that two films in which she was still billed as Lucille Le Sueur: Old Clothes (1925) and The Only Thing (1925) were recalled, and the billings were altered.
WAMPAS Baby of 1926
Met her biological father only once when he visited her on the set of Chained (1934). She would never see him again.
One of the original MGM contract stars from the studio's early period.
She was voted the 47th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
After being signed by MGM, someone attempted to extort money from the studio by claiming they had a pornographic film that featured a young Crawford. The attempt failed when MGM pointed out they could not definitely prove the actress in the film was Crawford. The incident was mentioned in a couple of biographies.
Comedic actress Betty Hutton, who lived near Crawford for a time, stated that she saw some of the abuse claimed by Joan's daughter Christina Crawford. Hutton would often encourage her own children to spend some time with "those poor children," as she felt they needed some fun in their lives.
After her husband Al Steele died, she still continued to set a place for him at the dinner table.
Although Crawford claimed her youngest daughters Cathy and Cindy were twins, most sources, including her two older children, claim they were just two babies born about a month apart. Her two older children claimed they couldn't be twins because they looked nothing alike. In the early 1990s, Cathy found their birth certificate, which proved that they were indeed twins, born on January 13, 1947. The fact that they were fraternal twins, rather than identical, can account for the fact that they did not look alike. The twins eventually met their birth father and other biological relatives. They found out that their birth mother had died of kidney failure soon after birth and that their father, who had not been married to their mother, did not find out about them until after it was too late. They were sold illegally to Joan Crawford by Tennessee Children's Home Society director Georgia Tann.
She has a granddaughter, Chrystal, from son Christopher. She has a granddaughter Carla, born c. 1970, from daughter Cathy. She has eight grandchildren altogether (four from Christopher and two each from Cindy and Cathy).
She has a grandson, Casey LaLonde, by her daughter Cathy. He was born c. 1972.
Bette Davis had been nominated for best actress in her film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), also starring Crawford. If Bette had won, it would have set a record number of wins for an actress. According to the book "Bette & Joan - The Divine Feud" by Shaun Considine, the two had a lifelong mutual hatred, and a jealous Crawford actively campaigned against Davis for best actress. Crawford told Anne Bancroft that if Anne won and was unable to accept the award, Joan would be happy to accept it on her behalf. According to the book -- and this may or may not be 100% true, but it makes a good anecdote -- on Oscar night, Bette Davis was standing in the wings of the theater waiting to hear the name of the winner. When it was announced that Anne Bancroft had won for The Miracle Worker (1962), Davis felt an icy hand on her shoulder as Crawford said "Excuse me, I have an Oscar to accept.".
She was of French descent on her father's side, and Irish/Scottish/English descent on her mother's side.
In AFI's 100 Years 100 Stars, she was ranked the #10 Female Greatest Screen Legend.
Often wore shoulder pads.
Was very close friends with William Haines and his partner Jimmy Shields from very early in her career until Haines' death. An up-and-coming actor, Haines had refused MGM's demand of a sham marriage to divert attention from his long-standing relationship with Shields. Crawford often referred to them as one of the longest, happiest marriages in Hollywood.
Her performance as Mildred Pierce Beragon in Mildred Pierce (1945) is ranked #93 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Adopted four children. Her two oldest children, Christina Crawford and Chistopher were completely excluded from her will. The other two received the modest amount of $77,500 each out of Crawford's $2 million estate.
Mentioned in thanks by Courtney Love in the liner notes of Hole's album Celebrity Skin.
Salary for 1941, $195,673.
Had once said that Clark Gable was the only man she had ever truly loved.
In 1933, she appeared in a Coca-Cola print advertisement. Some years later, in 1955, she married Pepsi-Cola board chairman Alfred N. Steele.
In 1959, upon the death of her husband Alfred Steele, CEO of the Pepsi-Cola Company, Joan refused to give up her seat on the board of directors until her forced retirement in 1973. She earned $60,000 per year as a board member, and was a tireless supporter of the product, demanding it receive prominent placement in her films, and traveled extensively as a goodwill ambassador for the company.
While touring the talk show circuit to promote What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Bette Davis told one interviewer that when she and Joan Crawford were first suggested for the leads, Warner studio head Jack L. Warner replied: "I wouldn't give a plugged nickel for either of those two old broads." Recalling the story, Bette Davis laughed at her own expense. The following day, she received a telegram from Crawford: "In future, please do not refer to me as an old broad!".
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1752 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.
Her daughter Christina Crawford suffered from an ovarian cyst in 1968 while appearing on the soap opera "The Secret Storm" (1954). While Christina was recovering from surgery, Joan Crawford, 63 years old at the time, temporarily took over Christina's role as a 28-year-old on the show. Christina Crawford wrote in her book "Mommie Dearest" that when she watched her mother's scenes on the telecast, it was obvious to her that her mother had been drinking during the taping.
Former mother-in-law of Harvey Medlinsky.
After joining Warner Bros., she was looking for her first role at the studio. Jack L. Warner had her in mind for the role of Kathryn Mason in Conflict (1945) and sent the script for the film to her. However, after reading the script, she told her agent to tell Warner that "Joan Crawford never dies in her movies, and she never ever loses her man to anyone".
She was an active member of the Hollywood Democratic Committee and was very liberal all her life. She was a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter.
Her biggest pet peeve was being told by rising starlets that she was their mother's favorite actress.
Joan suffered from bacilophobia, the fear of germs.
I need sex for a clear complexion, but I'd rather do it for love.
If you start watching the oldies, you're in trouble. I feel ancient if Grand Hotel (1932) or The Bride Wore Red (1937) comes on. I have a sneaking regard for Mildred Pierce (1945), but the others do nothing for me.
[regarding the films she made after What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)] They were all terrible, even the few I thought might be good. I made them because I needed the money or because I was bored or both. I hope they have been exhibited and withdrawn and are never heard from again.
I realized one morning that Trog (1970) was going to be my last picture. I had to be up early for the shoot and when I looked outside at the beautiful morning sky I felt that it was time to say goodbye. I think that may have been a prophetic thought because when I arrived on the set that morning the director told me that due to budget cuts we would wrap up filming today. The last shot of that film was a one-take and it was a very emotional moment for me. When I was walking up that hill towards the sunset I was flooded with memories of the last 50 years, and when the director yelled cut I just kept on walking. That for me was the perfect way to end my film career, however, the audiences who had to sit through that picture may feel differently.
I hate being asked to discuss those dreadful horror pictures I made the mistake of starring in. They were all just so disappointing to me, I really had high expectations for some of them. I thought that William Castle and I did our best on Strait-Jacket (1964) but the script was ludicrous and unbelievable and that destroyed that picture. I even thought that Berserk (1967) would be good but that was one of the worst of the lot. The other one William Castle and I did [I Saw What You Did (1965)] was the most wretched of them all and I just wasn't good at playing an over-the-hill nymphomaniac. Ha! Then came Trog (1970). Now you can understand why I retired from making motion pictures. Incidentally, I think at that point in my career I was doing my best work on television. Della was a good television role for me, and I really liked working on that pilot episode of "Rod Serling's Night Gallery: Night Gallery (#1.0)" (1969) with young Steven Spielberg. He did a great job and I am very satisfied with my performance on that show. Funny, every time a reporter asks me about my horror pictures they never talk about that one, and it's the only one I liked!
Love is fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell.
I think the most important thing a woman can have -- next to talent, of course, is -- her hairdresser.
[regarding the ongoing feud between she and daughter Christina Crawford] Mother and daughter feuds make for reams in print; they also make for reams of inaccuracies: the greatest inaccuracy is the feud itself. It takes two to feud and I'm not one of them. I only wish the best for Tina.
Women's Lib? Poor little things. They always look so unhappy. Have you noticed how bitter their faces are?
You have to be self-reliant and strong to survive in this town. Otherwise you will be destroyed.
Recently I heard a 'wise guy' story that I had a party at my home for twenty-five men. It's an interesting story, but I don't know twenty-five men I'd want to invite to a party.
[speaking of Marilyn Monroe] Look, there's nothing wrong with my tits, but I don't go around throwing them in people's faces!
Send me flowers while I'm alive. They won't do me a damn bit of good after I'm dead.
Not that anyone cares, but there's a right and wrong way to clean a house.
Of all the actresses ... to me, only Faye Dunaway has the talent and the class and the courage it takes to make a real star.
I'd like to think every director I've worked with has fallen in love with me, I know Dorothy Arzner did.
If I can't be me, I don't want to be anybody. I was born that way.
[speaking to director George Cukor after learning of Marilyn Monroe's death] You're right. She was cheap, and an exhibitionist. She was never professional, and that irritated the hell out of people. But for God's sake, she needed help. She had all these people on her payroll. Where they hell were they when she needed them? Why in the hell did she have to die alone?
I love playing bitches. There's a lot of bitch in every woman - a lot in every man.
Hollywood is like life, you face it with the sum total of your equipment.
If you've earned a position, be proud of it. Don't hide it. I want to be recognized. When I hear people say, "Joan Crawford!" I turn around and say, "Hi! How are you?"
If you're going to be a star, you have to look like a star, and I never go out unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.
[on working with Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) at Legendary Ladies of the Movies, Town Hall (1973)] It was one of the greatest challenges I ever had. [pauses to allow the laughter from the audience to taper off] I meant that kindly. Bette is of a different temperament than I. Bette had to yell every morning. I just sat and knitted. I knitted a scarf from Hollywood to Malibu.
[on director George Cukor] Mr. Cukor is a hard task-master, a fine director and he took me over the coals giving me the roughest time I have ever had. And I am eternally grateful.
[commenting on the remake of The Women (1939), The Opposite Sex (1956)] It's ridiculous. Norma [Norma Shearer] and I might not ever have been bosom buddies, but we towered compared to those pygmies in the remake!
[on Greta Garbo] She's let herself go all to hell. She walks along the sidewalk and runs across the street through the cars when somebody notices her, like an animal, a furtive rodent. It's a wonder anybody notices her - she looks like a bag lady. I heard that she's simply stopped bathing.
[on Greta Garbo] To this day I deplore the fact that she is unable to share herself with the world. What a waste!...If only she hadn't been so afraid, she wouldn't today be a lonely stranger on Fifth Avenue, fleeing before recognition.
[on Bette Davis] She acted like [What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)] was a one-woman show after they nominated her [for an Academy Award as Best Actress]. What was I supposed to do, let her hog all the glory, act like I hadn't even been in the movie? She got the nomination. I didn't begrudge her that, but it would have been nice if she'd been a little gracious in interviews and given me a little credit. I would have done it for her.
[on Bette Davis and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)] Sure, she stole some of my big scenes, but the funny thing is, when I see the movie again, she stole them because she looked like a parody of herself, and I still looked like something of a star.
[on Bette Davis] She has a cult, and what the hell is a cult except a gang of rebels without a cause. I have fans. There's a big difference.
[on Bette Davis and Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)] I have always believed in the Christian ethic, to forgive and forget. I looked forward to working with Bette again. I had no idea of the extent of her hate, and that she planned to destroy me.
[on Bette Davis] So I had no great beginnings in legitimate theater, but what the hell had she become if not a movie star? With all her little gestures with the cigarette, the clipped speech, the big eyes, the deadpan? I was just as much an actress as she was, even though I wasn't trained for the stage.
[on Bette Davis and The Star (1952)] Of course I had heard she was supposed to be playing me, but I didn't believe it. Did you see the picture? It couldn't possibly be me. Bette looked so old, and so dreadfully overweight.
[on Judy Garland] Over the years I've heard and read so many stories about the way Judy Garland was so badly treated at Metro she ended up a mess. I did not know her well, but after watching her in action a few times I didn't want to know her well. I think her problems were caused by the fact that she was a spoiled, indulgent, selfish brat -- plus a stage mother who had to be something of a monster, and a few husbands whose egos absolutely dominated hers. There were times when I felt sorry for Judy, but there were more times when I thought, "For Christ's sake, get off your ass!" ...but when she put her mind to it, she was good. And I mean damned good. Even in her silly pictures she came off.
[commenting on sex in films] I find suggestion a hell of a lot more provocative than explicit detail. You didn't see [Clark Gable] and [Vivien Leigh] rolling around in bed in Gone with the Wind (1939), but you saw that shit-eating grin on her face the next morning and you knew damned well she'd gotten properly laid . . . In my fallen-woman roles . . . nobody saw me do the actual falling . . . but they knew I'd fallen, and when it happened again--well, they got the point, and maybe the pornography that went on inside their heads was better than the actual thing would have been on screen. Censorship was a pain in the ass--when it was moral or political--but in the long run, considering what I see now, I think it served a purpose. Marlon Brando . . . Oh, what was the film [Last Tango in Paris (1972)] . . . anyway the nude scene. He's at least 40 pounds overweight, and I think the only sex appeal he has would be to a meat packer. That's art? The emphasis seems to be on the seamier side of real life, as though we should be more interested in what happened in the bathroom and the bedroom instead of living room, kitchen and office. The perspective is crazy. If we think about our lives, and divide time into the portions spent on making a living, eating, talking, reading, being entertained by TV or movies or radio or theater or whatever, and having sex, I think we'd find sex coming out on the short end of the stick. Unless you're a whore it doesn't give you the wherewithal to survive. Good God, isn't it more fun doing it or imagining it than watching it? . . . I know I sound like some sort of old Puritan, but I still think back to "Gone with the Wind", and that morning scene with Scarlett O'Hara. It was a hell of a lot more sexually stimulating than a glimpse of fat Marlon Brando.
Be afraid of nothing.
When we were making [What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)], Bette [Bette Davis] admitted to me she was "absolutely smitten" with Franchot [Franchot Tone], who had made Dangerous (1935) with her, but Franchot and I were already very much involved. That proves that Bette did have some good taste in men. Franchot said he thought Bette was a good actress, but he never thought of her as a woman. Our marriage didn't last, but we had some wonderful years. I wouldn't give them back for anything, and we remained friends as long as he lived.
Sensitive husbands don't like second billing. I don't believe Franchot [Franchot Tone] ever for a moment resented the fact that I was a star. Possibly he resented Hollywood's refusal to let him forget it. There was never a doubt in my mind that his talent was greater than mine.
Franchot [Franchot Tone] was an extremely loving, intelligent, considerate man, but he was also very haunted. He was one hell of a fine actor, but he loved the theatre and despised Hollywood. He very seldom got the parts he deserved, and I think this bugged him a lot. I wasn't as nice to him, as considerate, as I should have been. I was extremely busy during those years, and I didn't realize that his insecurities and dissatisfactions ran so deeply. His sex life diminished considerably, which didn't help matters, and there finally came a time when we only had things to argue about, not to talk about, and after hundreds of running arguments and a few physical rows we decided to call it quits. I missed him a lot, for a long, long time. He was so mature and stimulating. I think I can safely say that the break-up was another career casualty. If I'd tried a little harder - who knows.
[on "The David Frost Show" (1969), (1970)] I feel that if you have one ounce of good sense and one good friend, you'll never have to go to a psychiatrist.
[The 1930s] Hollywood was capable of hurting me so much. The things about Hollywood that could hurt me (when I first came) can't touch me now. I suddenly decided that they shouldn't hurt me - that was all.
When television killed comedy and love stories, the movie makers went in slugging. They offered the downbeat, the degenerate as competition. This seems to me to be a sad campaign for Hollywood to use to combat box office disaster.
[on Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) (1973)] I still get chills when I think of the treachery that Miss Davis [Bette Davis] indulged in on that movie, but I refused to ever let anger or hate enter my heart.
[on Bette Davis]: There was one thing where Bette was one up on me. She'd had a baby, a child of her own. I wanted one, and Bette was so lucky to have been able to have her own daughter.
[on her children Christina Crawford and Christopher Crawford] You know the troubles I've had with my two older children. I can't understand why it turned out so badly. I tried to give them everything. I loved them and tried to keep them near me, even when they didn't return my love. Well, I couldn't make them love me, but they could have shown some respect. I couldn't insist on love, but I could insist on respect.
I had always known what I wanted, and that was beauty... in every form... a beautiful house, beautiful man, a beautiful life and image. I was ambitious to get the money which would attain all that for me.
I hate this f-king picture [What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)], but I need the money, and if it goes over I'll get a nice percentage of the profits.
[after seeing Greta Garbo for the first time on the MGM lot] My knees went weak. She was breathtaking. If ever I thought of becoming a lesbian, that was it.
[commenting on her final days at Warner Brothers] They were grooming Doris Day to take over the top spot. [Jack L. Warner] asked me to play her sister in one picture [Storm Warning (1951)]. I said, "Come on, Jack. No one could ever believe that I would have Doris Day for a sister".
I absolutely will not allow anyone to call me grandmother. They can call me Auntie Joan, Dee-Dee, Cho-Cho, anything but grandmother. It pushes a woman almost to the grave.
[on What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) and whether she hid weights on her body so that Bette Davis would have a hard time lifting her off the bed when she takes her out of the house for their trip to the beach] Weights! And have Bette tell everyone I was as heavy as an elephant. Absolutely not. I may not have made it as easy for her to lift me out of the bed as I could have, at least at first, but when you're a pro you get over any animosity you may feel and help your fellow player out. It simply didn't happen.
[on her son, Christopher Crawford] I remember most clearly when a teenage Christopher spat in my face. He said, "I hate you". It's pretty hard to overlook that. I couldn't.
I used to wash my hands every ten minutes. I couldn't step out of the house unless I had gloves on. I wouldn't smoke a cigarette unless I opened the pack myself, and I would never use another cigarette out of that pack if someone else had touched it.
While making Possessed (1947), I wept each morning on my drive to the studio, and I wept all the way back home. I found it impossible to sleep at night, so I'd lie in bed contemplating the future. I fear it with all my heart and soul even as I fear the dark.
[on filming the bath scene in The Women (1939)] It took ten hours to shoot. The suds lasted only fifteen minutes under the hot lights. Once, the water began to leak out and the crew had to toss me a towel to clothe myself. It could have been so embarrassing.
[on The Women (1939)] It was like a f--king zoo at times. If you let down your guard for one moment you would have been eaten alive.
The Democratic party is one that I've always observed. I have struggled greatly in life from the day I was born and I am honored to be apart of something that focuses on working class citizens and molds them into a proud specimen. Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Kennedy have done so much in that regard for the two generations they've won over during their career course.
|Lady of the Night (1925)||$75.00 per week|
|Montana Moon (1930)||$1,000 per week|
|Laughing Sinners (1931)||$3,000.00 per week|
|This Modern Age (1931)||$3,500.00 per week|
|Grand Hotel (1932)||$3,500.00 per week|
|Rain (1932)||$4,000.00 per week|
|Dancing Lady (1933)||$5,000.00 per week|
|No More Ladies (1935)||$7,500.00 per week|
|I Live My Life (1935)||$7,500.00 per week|
|The Gorgeous Hussy (1936)||$8,500.00 per week|
|Love on the Run (1936)||$8,500.00 per week|
|The Bride Wore Red (1937)||$9,500.00 per week|
|They All Kissed the Bride (1942)||$330,000|
|Mildred Pierce (1945)||$167,000|
|Goodbye, My Fancy (1951)||$3,205.13 per week|
|This Woman Is Dangerous (1952)||$3,205.13 per week|
|Sudden Fear (1952)||40% of profits|
|Torch Song (1953)||$125,000 (paid in 83 installments for tax purposes)|
|The Story of Esther Costello (1957)||$200,000|
|The Best of Everything (1959)||$65,000|
|What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)||$30,000 + 15% of the net profits|
|Strait-Jacket (1964)||$50,000 + % of profits|
|I Saw What You Did (1965)||$50,000|
|"Rod Serling's Night Gallery: Night Gallery (#1.0)" (1969)||$50,000|
|Trog (1970)||$50,000 (roughly)|
|"The Sixth Sense" (1972)||$2,500|
(2006) Release of the book, "Joan Crawford: Hollywood Martyr" by David Bret.
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