skip navigation
Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (60)

Recent DVDs

 
 

The Joan Crawford Collection: Volume 2... This second volume of the "Joan Crawford Collection" (2008) showcases the star's... more info $49.98was $49.98 Buy Now

Grand Hotel DVD "People come. People go. Nothing ever happens," one world-weary patron (Lewis... more info $19.98was $19.98 Buy Now

MGM: When the Lion Roars... On April 24, 1924 the movies changed forever: the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio... more info $29.98was $29.98 Buy Now

The Joan Crawford Collection... The unparalleled talents of the grande dame of cinema are collected here on... more info $49.98was $49.98 Buy Now

The Women DVD Be careful what you say in private. It could become a movie. Some gossip... more info $7.99was $19.98 Buy Now

Reunion In France DVD Paris fights back! Thrilling romance of The Underground Revolt!John Wayne and... more info $12.98was $12.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Billy Casey, Billie Cassin, Lucille Fay Le Sueur Died: May 10, 1977
Born: March 23, 1904 Cause of Death: acute coronary occlusion
Birth Place: San Antonio, Texas, USA Profession: actor, dancer, laundress, waitress, shopgirl

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Joan Crawford's extraordinary career encompassed over 45 years and some 80 films. After a tough, poor childhood, she was spotted in a chorus line by MGM and signed as an ingenue in 1925. Her portrayal of a good-hearted flapper in her 21st film, "Our Dancing Daughters" (1928), made her a star. Crawford maintained this status throughout the remainder of her career, but not without setbacks. She successfully made the transition to sound films, her Jazz Age image being replaced by young society matrons and sincere, upwardly mobile, sometimes gritty working girls (memorably in "Grand Hotel" 1932) and her mien adopting the carefully sculptured cheekbones, broad shoulders and full mouth audiences remember her for. Her MGM films of the 1930s, though lavish and stylish, were mostly routine and superficial. Despite mature and impressive performances in "The Women" (1939) and "A Woman's Face" (1941), both directed by George Cukor, Crawford continued to be given less-than-challenging roles by the studio.

Joan Crawford's extraordinary career encompassed over 45 years and some 80 films. After a tough, poor childhood, she was spotted in a chorus line by MGM and signed as an ingenue in 1925. Her portrayal of a good-hearted flapper in her 21st film, "Our Dancing Daughters" (1928), made her a star. Crawford maintained this status throughout the remainder of her career, but not without setbacks. She successfully made the transition to sound films, her Jazz Age image being replaced by young society matrons and sincere, upwardly mobile, sometimes gritty working girls (memorably in "Grand Hotel" 1932) and her mien adopting the carefully sculptured cheekbones, broad shoulders and full mouth audiences remember her for. Her MGM films of the 1930s, though lavish and stylish, were mostly routine and superficial. Despite mature and impressive performances in "The Women" (1939) and "A Woman's Face" (1941), both directed by George Cukor, Crawford continued to be given less-than-challenging roles by the studio.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 That's Entertainment! III (1994) Song Performer
2.
 MGM: When the Lion Roars (1992) (Archival Footage)
3.
 Going Hollywood: The War Years (1983) Herself (Archival Footage)
4.
 Trog (1970) Dr. Brockton
5.
 Berserk (1967) Monica Rivers
6.
 The Karate Killers (1967) Amanda True
7.
 I Saw What You Did (1965) Amy Nelson
8.
 Strait-Jacket (1964) Lucy Harbin
9.
 The Caretakers (1963) Lucretia Terry
10.
 What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) Blanche Hudson
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1916:
Grew up with mother and stepfather in Lawton, Oklahoma; moved with family to Kansas City, Missouri (date approximate)
1923:
Won amateur dance contest; went to Chicago and Detroit in search of dance career
1924:
In chorus of New York production of "Innocent Eyes"; spotted "third from the left in the back row" by MGM producer Harry Rapf; subsequently given screen test
1925:
As Miss MGM introduced trailer reel of upcoming MGM films
1925:
Feature film debut (as double for Norma Shearer) in "Lady of the Night"
:
Contest held by MGM to rename its new contract player; for a while used winning entry name of "Joan Arden" until an extra with that name was discovered on the set; name changed to second place entry, "Joan Crawford"
1925:
Film acting debut in King Vidor's "Proud Flesh"
1926:
Voted one of 13 WAMPAS (Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers) "Baby Stars" along with Dolores Del Rio, Mary Astor and others
:
Among the leading lady parts with which Crawford attained stardom are her roles in "Sally, Irene, and Mary" (1925), "Paris" (1926) and "Our Dancing Daughters" (1928)
1929:
After singing in the all-star "Hollywood Revue of 1929" made full-fledged sound debut in "Untamed"
1931:
First teamed with Clark Gable in "Dance Fools Dance", "Laughing Sinners" and "Possessed"
1932:
Made motion picture exhibitors poll of top ten box office stars
1938:
Named "box office poison" by motion picture exhibitors; MGM renewed her contract nonetheless
:
Appearances in "The Women" (1939) and "Strange Cargo" (1940) helped Crawford regain popularity and garner new critical regard
1943:
Last film for MGM for ten years, "Above Suspicion"
1944:
Signed contract with Warner Bros. paying her slightly less but giving her script approval
1944:
Made cameo appearance in all-star fund-raising film, "Hollywood Canteen"
1945:
First starring film under Warners contract, the popular and acclaimed melodrama, "Mildred Pierce"
1952:
Last film under Warner Bros. contract, "This Woman Is Dangerous"; began free-lancing
1952:
Regained her star clout with successful appearance in RKO's "Sudden Fear"
1953:
One-shot return to MGM to star in musical drama, "Torch Song"
1957:
Played last romantic lead, "The Story of Esther Costello"
1959:
Played first supporting character role in "The Best of Everything"; still received star billing
1959:
Elected to board of directors of Pepsi-Cola two days after the death of husband Alfred Steele, Pepsi executive
1962:
Career revived with starring role opposite Bette Davis in popular Grand Guignol semi-horror film, "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"
1964:
Co-starred opposite Diane Baker in made for TV film, "Della"
1970:
Last feature film, "Trog"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Stephens College: Columbia , Missouri -
Rockingham School: -

Notes

There is some debate regarding the actual year of Crawford's birth. Many sources give 1906 or 1908, but 1904 is cited most often and by those references generally most reliable, although government records indicate 1908.

Crawford was one of MGM's biggest stars of the 1930s. She placed third on the first annual exhibitor's poll of top boxoffice stars in 1932, and later placed tenth in 1933, sixth in 1934, fifth in 1935 and seventh in 1936. Her boxoffice appeal plummeted for a time in the late 30s, leading her to be one of the stars dubbed "box office poison" in an exhibitors' poll. The most durable star of them all, though, Crawford, still a star three decades later, could look back at it all and laugh.

Referring to the trendsetting makeup styles Crawford initiated in the early 1930s, which replaced the genteel prettiness of the 20s with a more sculptured, mature look, Crawford remarked, "Everybody imitated my fuller mouth, my darker eyebrows. But I wouldn't copy anybody. If I can't be me, I don't want to be anybody. I was born that way." --quoted in "Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion", 9th edition

"The most important thing a woman can have, next to her talent of course, is her hairdresser" --Joan Crawford

"The best time I ever had with her was when I pushed her downstairs in 'Baby Jane'." --Bette Davis, referring to a scene that does not appear in the final film, quoted in "Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion", 9th edition

"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." --quote attributed to Crawford

"Inactivity is one of the great indignities of life. The need to work is always there, bugging me." --Joan Crawford

"I tried to be a good listener. I decided that was what she wanted all along--not so much a friend as an audience." --June Allyson on Crawford, quoted in "Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion, 9th edition

"She's slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie." --quote attributed to Bette Davis

"Bette and I work differently. Bette screams and I knit. While she screamed, I knitted a scarf that stretched clear to Malibu." --Joan Crawford on working with Bette Davis at a 1973 NYC appearance

"As a human being, Miss Crawford is a great actress." --quote attributed to Nicholas Ray, director of "Johnny Guitar" (1954)

She was elected a fellow of Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusets

Designated as the first "Woman of the Year" by the United Service Organizations of New York for her qualities as "an actress, an executive, humanitarian" (1965).

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Michael Cudahy. Wealthy society figure with whom Crawford is reported to have had an affair in the 1920s.
husband:
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Actor. Born on December 9, 1909; son of silent screen star Douglas Fairbanks; married in 1929; divorced in 1933.
companion:
Clark Gable. Actor. Born on February 1, 1901; died on November 16, 1960; known as 'The King' of Hollywood, was American film's most popular male lead of the 1930s and early 40s; reported to have had intermittent, ongoing affair with Crawford for over a 10-year period; the two appeared together in "Dance Fools Dance", "Laughing Sinners", "Possessed" (all 1931), "Dancing Lady" (1933), "Chained" (1934), "Forsaking All Others" (1935), "Love on the Run" (1937), "Strange Cargo" (1940).
husband:
Franchot Tone. Actor. Born on February 27, 1905; died on September 18, 1968; married in 1935; divorced in 1939; was one of Crawford's leading men in "Today We Live", "Dancing Lady" (both 1933), "Sadie McKee" (1934), "No More Ladies" (1935), "The Gorgeous Hussy" (1936), "Love on the Run" (typically, a film in which he "loses" Crawford to another man, here Clark Gable) and "The Bride Wore Red" (both 1937).
companion:
Edward Norris. Actor. Was simultaneously involved with Crawford and actress Hedy Lamarr.
husband:
Philip Terry. Actor. Born in 1909; died on February 23, 1993; married in 1942; divorced in 1946; perhaps best remembered for his role as Ray Milland's brother in "The Lost Weekend" (1945).
companion:
Greg Bautzer. Lawyer. Had affair in late 1940s.
husband:
Alfred Steele. Board chairman of Pepsi-Cola. Married 1956 until his death from a heart attack in 1959; Crawford would later describe her years with Steele as the most fulfilling of her life.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Thomas LeSuer. Separated from Crawford's mother before her birth.
mother:
Anna LeSueur.
step-father:
Henry Cassin. Theater owner.
brother:
Hal LeSueur. Older.
daughter:
Christina Crawford. Author, actor. Adopted; wrote "Mommie Dearest" in 1978 which portrayed Crawford as a monstrous mother.
son:
Christopher Terry. Adopted.
daughter:
Catharine Crawford. Adopted; twin of Cynthia; married name Lalonde.
daughter:
Cynthia Jordan Crawford. Adopted; twin of Cathy.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"A Portrait of Joan"
"Joan Crawford"
"My Way of Life"
"Mommie Dearest"
"Joan Crawford" Pyramid Books
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Contributions

kmprod77 ( 2007-08-13 )

Source: Several books as listed above.

Miss Crawford married Alfred Steele in 1955, not 1956, as stated. Every book written about her (including her own autobiographies, state this). Speaking of books, many more could be added to the bibliography section as reference works:
The Films Of Joan Crawford (1968, Lawrence J. Quirk)
Four Fabulous Faces (1970, Larry Carr)
The Raging Star (1975, Charles Castle)
Crawford - The Last Years (1979, Carl Johnes)
Conversations With Joan Crawford (1980, Roy Newquist)
Jazz Baby (1983, David Houston)
Joan Crawford - The Ultimate Star (1983, Alexander Walker)
Crawford's Men (1988, Jane Ellen Wayne)
Bette & Joan - The Divine Feud (1989, Shaun Considine)
Joan Crawford - The Last Word (1995, Fred Lawrence Guiles)
Joan Crawford - The Essential Biography (2002, Lawrence J. Quirk & William Schoell)
Joan Crawford - Hollywood Martyr (2006)
*Also: Joan Crawford - Her Life In Letters (Michelle Vogel)
***Also, you stated that the book - Joan Crawford by Stephen Harvey was published in 1975. It actually came out in 1974.
The dates for (but not listed) for Joan Crawford by Bob Thomas and Mommie Dearest by Christina Crawford are both 1978.

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute