Joan Crawford
American actress
Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford, born Lucille Fay LeSueur, was an American actress in film, television and theatre. Starting as a dancer in traveling theatrical companies before debuting on Broadway, Crawford was signed to a motion picture contract by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1925. Initially frustrated by the size and quality of her parts, Crawford began a campaign of self-publicity and became nationally known as a flapper by the end of the 1920s.
Joan Crawford's personal information overview.
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Cliff Robertson, 88, Oscar-Winning Rebel
NYTimes - over 5 years
Cliff Robertson, the ruggedly handsome actor who won an Oscar for ''Charly'' but found himself frozen out of jobs for almost four years after he exposed a prominent Hollywood studio boss as a forger and embezzler, died Saturday on Long Island. He was 88 and lived in Water Mill, N.Y. A son-in-law, Donald Saunders, said Mr. Robertson died at Stony
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Cliff Robertson, 88, Oscar-Winning Rebel, Dies
NYTimes - over 5 years
Cliff Robertson, the ruggedly handsome actor who won an Oscar for ''Charly'' but found himself frozen out of jobs for almost four years after he exposed a prominent Hollywood studio boss as a forger and embezzler, died Saturday on Long Island. He was 88 and lived in Water Mill, N.Y. A son-in-law, Donald Saunders, said Mr. Robertson died at Stony
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Venice Film Festival Goes Back to the Future
NYTimes - over 5 years
VENICE -- At least two of the top billings at the Venice Film Festival this year are calculated to scare the living daylights out of us: Abel Ferrara's in-competition ''4:44 Last Day on Earth'' and Steven Soderbergh's out-of-competition ''Contagion'' promise to give us a glimpse of the end-of-the-world lurking just around the corner. The major
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Danielle's “Go Home” look (That wasn't that bad) with Team Bryce - Portland Monthly (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Then she says one sentence that made my right eyebrow arch like Joan Crawford. “I tried my best to get out yesterday.” Gasp!! She was trying to tank the runway challenge with that ghastly dress and she still couldn't get sent home? Wow
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Missing Manila – but not its gossip -
Google News - over 5 years
The actress was considered competition for the likes of Greta Garbo and other Hollywood sexpots like Mae West and Jean Harlow before the studios declared her box-office poison like Katharine Hepburn and Joan Crawford. She found a lucrative career in
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New in Local Theaters 08/25/11 - Bloomington Pantagraph
Google News - over 5 years
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford star as sisters and roommates, struggling to cope with their past fame and each other. (NL) Columbiana: 107 min.; PG-13 (violence, disturbing images, sexuality, language) A trained assassin seeks revenge on the killer of
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Normal Theater this weekend: 'Baby Jane', 'Sunset Boulevard' - WJBC News
Google News - over 5 years
Well, I disagree and here's why – Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in the same movie. And Gloria Swanson, after William Holden tells here she used to be big in pictures, telling us “I am big, it's the pictures that got small”. These are moments meant for
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Google News - over 5 years
Joan Crawford (right, in Daisy Kenyon) is Turner Classic Movies' next "Summer Under the Stars" star. On Monday, August 22, TCM will be showing 13 Joan Crawford movies, in addition to Peter Fitzgerald's documentary Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star
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The Good, The Bad, Not the Ugly
NYTimes - over 5 years
Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott, the co-chief film critics of The New York Times, answer your questions in a monthly column that appears in print and online. Here they take on questions about actors and stars. You can write them at Q. Do you believe that there are any reliably bankable actors left in Hollywood, or has
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Joan Crawford Accepts Oscar For Anne Bancroft - Village Voice (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Well, that darling little Joan Crawford--who'd feuded with Bette Davis on the Baby Jane set, as well as all her adult life--had craftily sent letters to the non-Davis nominees saying that in case they couldn't make the awards ceremony, she'd gladly be
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Whatever happened to Joan and Bette? - Chicago Tribune
Google News - over 5 years
Made for less than $1 million by director Robert Aldrich, the film pairs Joan Crawford and Bette Davis as the demented Hudson sisters, middle-age former actresses in a co-dependent relationship of passive-aggression and flat-out aggression-aggression
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SOCIAL Q'S; No Bringing Up Baby on Facebook
NYTimes - over 5 years
My husband and I are expecting our first child, and we plan to tell his parents after the first trimester. My mother-in-law posts photos and personal information on Facebook indiscriminately. But for privacy and safety reasons, I prefer no mention of my pregnancy on Facebook or anything about our child, even after he is born. Subtle messages don't
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The Listings
NYTimes - over 5 years
Movies Ratings and running times are in parentheses; foreign films have English subtitles. Full reviews of all current releases, movie trailers, showtimes and tickets: 'Another Earth' (PG-13, 1:32) The director Mike Cahill and his star, the promising newcomer Brit Marling, wrote this moody, modest science-fiction film about
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HBO dominates the Emmy Awards nominations - Los Angeles Times
Google News - over 5 years
(Helen Sloan / HBO / July 15, 2011) The period melodrama about a self-made woman with a spoiled, backstabbing daughter earned Joan Crawford her first and only Oscar for the 1945 film version of the James M. Cain novel. And on Thursday, HBO's lavish
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Joan Crawford
  • 1977
    Age 71
    On May 8, 1977, Crawford gave away her beloved Shih Tzu, "Princess Lotus Blossom," being too weak to care for it. She died two days later at her New York apartment from a heart attack. A funeral was held at Campbell Funeral Home, New York, on May 13, 1977.
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    A memorial service was held for Crawford at All Souls' Unitarian Church on Lexington Avenue in New York on May 16, 1977, and was attended by, among others, her old Hollywood friend Myrna Loy.
    More Details Hide Details Another memorial service, organized by George Cukor, was held on June 24 in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills. Crawford was cremated and her ashes were placed in a crypt with her fourth and final husband, Alfred Steele, in Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York. Joan Crawford's handprints and footprints are immortalized in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1750 Vine Street. Playboy listed Crawford as #84 of the "100 Sexiest Women of the 20th century". Crawford was also voted the tenth greatest female star of the classic American cinema by the American Film Institute. In November 1978, Christina Crawford published Mommie Dearest, which contained allegations that her late adoptive mother was emotionally and physically abusive to Christina and her brother Christopher because she was only interested in her career instead of being a mother. Many of Crawford's friends and co-workers, including Van Johnson, Ann Blyth, Marlene Dietrich, Myrna Loy, Katharine Hepburn, Cesar Romero, Gary Gray, Betty Barker (Joan's secretary for nearly fifty years), Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (Crawford's first husband), and Crawford's two other younger daughters—Cathy and Cindy—denounced the book, categorically denying any abuse. But others, including Betty Hutton, Helen Hayes, James MacArthur (Hayes' son), June Allyson, Liz Smith, Rex Reed, and Vincent Sherman stated they had witnessed some form of abusive behavior.
  • 1976
    Age 70
    In her will, which was signed October 28, 1976, Crawford bequeathed to her two youngest children, Cindy and Cathy, $77,500 each from her $2,000,000 estate.
    More Details Hide Details She explicitly disinherited the two eldest, Christina and Christopher, writing, "It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son, Christopher, or my daughter, Christina, for reasons which are well known to them." She also bequeathed nothing to her niece, Joan Lowe (1933-1999; born Joan Crawford LeSueur, the only child of her estranged brother, Hal). Crawford left money to her favorite charities: the U.S.O. of New York, the Motion Picture Home, the American Cancer Society, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the American Heart Association, and the Wiltwyck School for Boys.
  • 1974
    Age 68
    While on antibiotics for this problem in October 1974, her drinking caused her to pass out, slip and strike her face.
    More Details Hide Details The incident scared her enough to give up drinking, although she insisted it was because of her return to Christian Science. The incident is recorded in a series of letters sent to her insurance company held in the stack files on the 3rd floor of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; it is also documented by Carl Johnnes in his biography of the actress, Joan Crawford: The Last Years.
    Her last public appearance was September 23, 1974, at a party honoring her old friend Rosalind Russell at New York's Rainbow Room.
    More Details Hide Details Russell was suffering from breast cancer and arthritis at the time. When Crawford saw the unflattering photos that appeared in the papers the next day, she said, "If that's how I look, then they won't see me anymore." Crawford cancelled all public appearances, began declining interviews and left her apartment less and less. Dental-related issues, including surgery which left her needing round-the-clock nursing care, plagued her from 1972 until mid-1975.
  • 1973
    Age 67
    In September 1973, Crawford moved from apartment 22-G to a smaller apartment next door (22-H) at the Imperial House.
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  • 1971
    Age 65
    Crawford's next book, My Way of Life, was published in 1971 by Simon & Schuster.
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  • 1970
    Age 64
    In 1970, Crawford was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award by John Wayne at the Golden Globes, which was telecast from the Coconut Grove at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
    More Details Hide Details She also spoke at Stephens College, which she had attended for four months in 1922. Crawford published her autobiography, A Portrait of Joan, co-written with Jane Kesner Ardmore, in 1962 through Doubleday.
    Crawford made three more television appearances, as Stephanie White in a 1970 episode ("The Nightmare") of The Virginian and as Joan Fairchild (her final performance) in a 1972 episode ("Dear Joan: We're Going to Scare You to Death") of The Sixth Sense.
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    She made a cameo appearance as herself in the first episode of the situation comedy The Tim Conway Show, which aired on January 30, 1970.
    More Details Hide Details She starred on the big screen one final time, playing Dr. Brockton in Herman Cohen's science fiction horror film Trog (1970), rounding out a career spanning 45 years and more than eighty motion pictures.
  • 1969
    Age 63
    Crawford's appearance in the 1969 television film Night Gallery (which served as pilot to the series that followed), marked one of Steven Spielberg's earliest directing jobs.
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  • 1968
    Age 62
    In October 1968, Crawford's 29-year-old daughter, Christina (who was then acting in New York on the CBS soap opera The Secret Storm), needed immediate medical attention for a ruptured ovarian tumor.
    More Details Hide Details Despite the fact that Christina's character was a 28-year-old and Crawford was in her sixties, Crawford offered to play her role until Christina was well enough to return, to which producer Gloria Monty readily agreed. Although Crawford did well in rehearsal, she lost her composure while taping and the director and producer were left to struggle to piece together the necessary footage.
    When he died in 1968, Crawford arranged for him to be cremated and his ashes scattered at Muskoka Lakes, Canada.
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  • 1965
    Age 59
    In 1965 she played Amy Nelson in I Saw What You Did (1965), another William Castle vehicle.
    More Details Hide Details She starred as Monica Rivers in Herman Cohen's horror thriller film Berserk! (1967). After the film's release, Crawford guest-starred as herself on The Lucy Show. The episode, "Lucy and the Lost Star", first aired on February 26, 1968. Crawford struggled during rehearsals and drank heavily on-set, leading series star Lucille Ball to suggest replacing her with Gloria Swanson. However, Crawford was letter-perfect the day of the show, which included dancing the Charleston, and received two standing ovations from the studio audience.
  • 1960
    Age 54
    Upon her death there were found in her apartment photographs of John F. Kennedy, for whom she had reportedly voted in the 1960 presidential election.
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  • 1959
    Age 53
    After his death in 1959, Crawford was elected to fill his vacancy on the board of directors but was forcibly retired in 1973.
    More Details Hide Details She continued acting in film and television regularly through the 1960s, when her performances became fewer; after the release of the British horror film Trog in 1970, Crawford retired from the screen. Following a public appearance in 1974, after which unflattering photographs were published, Crawford withdrew from public life and became increasingly reclusive until her death in 1977. Crawford married four times. Her first three marriages ended in divorce; the last ended with the death of husband Alfred Steele. She adopted five children, one of whom was reclaimed by his birth mother. Crawford's relationships with her two older children, Christina and Christopher, were acrimonious. Crawford disinherited the two, and, after Crawford's death, Christina wrote a "tell-all" memoir titled, Mommie Dearest.
  • 1955
    Age 49
    Crawford married her fourth and final husband, Alfred Steele, at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas on May 10, 1955.
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    In 1955, she became involved with the Pepsi-Cola Company through her marriage to company Chairman Alfred Steele.
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  • 1954
    Age 48
    In 1954, she starred in Johnny Guitar, a camp western film, co-starring Sterling Hayden and Mercedes McCambridge.
    More Details Hide Details She also starred in Female on the Beach (1955) with Jeff Chandler, and in Queen Bee (1955) alongside John Ireland. The following year, she starred opposite a young Cliff Robertson in Autumn Leaves (1956) and filmed a leading role in The Story of Esther Costello (1957), co-starring Rossano Brazzi. Crawford, who had been left near-penniless following Alfred Steele's death accepted a small role in The Best of Everything (1959). Although she was not the star of the film, she received positive reviews. Crawford would later name the role as being one of her personal favorites. However, by the early 1960s, Crawford's status in motion pictures had declined considerably. Crawford starred as Blanche Hudson, an old, wheelchair-bound former A-list movie star in conflict with her psychotic sister, in the highly successful psychological thriller What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). Despite the actresses' earlier tensions, Crawford reportedly suggested Bette Davis for the role of Jane. The two stars maintained publicly that there was no feud between them. The director, Robert Aldrich, explained that Davis and Crawford were each aware of how important the film was to their respective careers and commented, "It's proper to say that they really detested each other, but they behaved absolutely perfectly."
  • 1952
    Age 46
    After her Academy Award nominated performance in 1952's Sudden Fear, Crawford continued to work steadily throughout the rest of the decade.
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  • 1950
    Age 44
    Crawford and Steele met at a party in 1950 when Steele was an executive at PepsiCo.
    More Details Hide Details They renewed their acquaintance at a New Year's Eve party in 1954. Steele by that time had become President of Pepsi Cola. Alfred Steele would later be named Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Pepsi Cola. She traveled extensively on behalf of Pepsi following the marriage. She estimated that she traveled over 100,000 miles for the company. Steele died of a heart attack in April 1959. Crawford was initially advised that her services were no longer required. After she told the story to Louella Parsons, Pepsi reversed its position and Crawford was elected to fill the vacant seat on the board of directors. Crawford received the sixth annual "Pally Award", which was in the shape of a bronze Pepsi bottle. It was awarded to the employee making the most significant contribution to company sales. In 1973, Crawford was forced to retire from the company at the behest of company executive Don Kendall, whom Crawford had referred to for years as "Fang".
  • 1947
    Age 41
    Crawford adopted two more children in 1947, identical twins whom she named Cindy and Cathy.
    More Details Hide Details Crawford worked in the radio series The Screen Guild Theater on January 8, 1939; Good News; Baby, broadcast March 2, 1940 on Arch Oboler's Lights Out; The Word on Everyman's Theater (1941); Chained on the Lux Radio Theater and Norman Corwin's Document A/777 (1948). She appeared in episodes of anthology television series in the 1950s and, in 1959, made a pilot for her series, The Joan Crawford Show.
  • 1946
    Age 40
    The couple adopted another boy, whom they named Phillip Terry, Jr. After the marriage ended in 1946, Crawford changed the child's name to Christopher Crawford.
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  • 1944
    Age 38
    Crawford said one of the main reasons she signed with Warner Brothers was because she wanted to play the character "Mattie" in a proposed 1944 film version of Edith Wharton's novel Ethan Frome (1911).
    More Details Hide Details She wanted to play the title role in Mildred Pierce (1945), but Bette Davis was the studio's first choice. However, Davis turned the role down. Director Michael Curtiz did not want Crawford to play the part, and he instead lobbied for the casting of Barbara Stanwyck. Warners went against Curtiz, however, and cast Crawford in the film. Throughout the entire production of the movie, Curtiz criticized Crawford. He has been quoted as having told Jack Warner, "She comes over here with her high-hat airs and her goddamn shoulder pads... why should I waste my time directing a has-been?" Curtiz demanded Crawford prove her suitability by taking a screen test. After the test, Curtiz agreed to Crawford's casting. Mildred Pierce was a resounding critical and commercial success. It epitomized the lush visual style and the hard-boiled film noir sensibility that defined Warner Bros. movies of the late forties, earning Crawford the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
  • 1943
    Age 37
    For $500,000, Crawford signed with Warner Brothers for a three movie deal and was placed on the payroll on July 1, 1943.
    More Details Hide Details Her first film for the studio was Hollywood Canteen (1944), an all-star morale-booster film that teamed her with several other top movie stars at the time.
    After eighteen years, Crawford's contract with MGM was terminated by mutual consent on June 29, 1943.
    More Details Hide Details In lieu of the last film remaining under her contract, MGM bought her out for $100,000. During World War II she was a member of American Women's Voluntary Services.
  • 1942
    Age 36
    She married actor Phillip Terry on July 21, 1942 after a six-month courtship.
    More Details Hide Details Together the couple adopted a son whom they named Christopher, but his birth mother reclaimed the child.
  • 1940
    Age 34
    Crawford adopted her first child, a daughter, in 1940.
    More Details Hide Details Because she was single, California law prevented her from adopting within the state so she arranged the adoption through an agency in Las Vegas. The child was temporarily called Joan until Crawford changed her name to Christina.
  • 1939
    Age 33
    She made a comeback in 1939 with her role as home-wrecker Crystal Allen in The Women opposite her professional nemesis, Norma Shearer.
    More Details Hide Details A year later, she played against type, playing the unglamorous role of Julie in Strange Cargo (1940), her eighth and final film with Clark Gable. She later starred as a facially disfigured blackmailer in A Woman's Face (1941), a remake of the Swedish film En kvinnas ansikte which had starred Ingrid Bergman in the lead role three years earlier. While the film was only a moderate box office success, her performance was hailed by many critics.
    Before and during their marriage, Crawford worked to promote Tone's Hollywood career, but Tone was ultimately not interested in being a movie star and Crawford eventually wearied of the effort. After Tone reportedly began drinking and becoming physically abusive, she filed for divorce, which was granted in 1939.
    More Details Hide Details Crawford and Tone much later rekindled their friendship and Tone even proposed in 1964 that they remarry.
  • 1938
    Age 32
    On May 3, 1938, Crawford — along with Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, Luise Rainer, and John Barrymore, Katharine Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Dolores del Río and others — was dubbed "Box Office Poison" in an open letter in the Independent Film Journal.
    More Details Hide Details The list was submitted by Harry Brandt, president of the Independent Theatre Owners Association of America. Brandt stated that while these stars had "unquestioned" dramatic abilities, their high salaries did not reflect in their ticket sales, thus hurting the movie exhibitors involved. Her follow-up movie, The Shining Hour (1938), co-starring Margaret Sullavan and Melvyn Douglas, was well received by critics, but a box office flop.
  • 1937
    Age 31
    In 1937, Crawford was proclaimed the first "Queen of the Movies" by Life magazine.
    More Details Hide Details She unexpectedly slipped from seventh to sixteenth place at the box office that year, and her public popularity also began to wane. Richard Boleslawski's comedy-drama The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937) teamed her opposite William Powell in their sole screen pairing. The film was also Crawford's last box-office success before the onset of her "Box-Office Poison" period. She co-starred opposite Franchot Tone for the seventh and final time in The Bride Wore Red (1937). The film was generally unfavorably reviewed by the majority of critics, with one critic calling it the "same ole rags-to-riches story" Crawford had been making for years. It also ran a financial loss, becoming one of MGM's biggest failures of the year. Mannequin did, as the New York Times stated, "restore Crawford to her throne as queen of the working girls". Most other reviews were positive, and the film managed to generate a minor profit, but it did not resurrect Crawford's popularity.
  • 1935
    Age 29
    In 1935, Crawford married Franchot Tone, a stage actor from New York who planned to use his film earnings to finance his theatre group.
    More Details Hide Details The couple built a small theatre at Crawford's Brentwood home and put on productions of classic plays for select groups of friends. Tone and Crawford had first appeared together in Today We Live (1933) but Crawford was hesitant about entering into another romance so soon after her split from Fairbanks.
  • 1933
    Age 27
    In May 1933, Crawford divorced Fairbanks.
    More Details Hide Details Crawford cited "grievous mental cruelty", claiming Fairbanks had "a jealous and suspicious attitude" toward her friends and that they had "loud arguments about the most trivial subjects" lasting "far into the night". Following her divorce, she was again teamed with Clark Gable, along with Franchot Tone and Fred Astaire, in the hit Dancing Lady (1933), in which she received top billing. She next played the title role in Sadie McKee (1934) opposite Tone and Gene Raymond. She was paired with Gable for the fifth time in Chained (1934) and for the sixth time in Forsaking All Others (1934). Crawford's films of this era were some of the most-popular and highest-grossing films of the mid-1930s.
  • 1932
    Age 26
    Despite the failure of Rain, in 1932 the publishing of the first "Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll" placed Crawford third in popularity at the box office, behind only Marie Dressler and Janet Gaynor.
    More Details Hide Details She remained on the list for the next several years, last appearing on it in 1936.
  • 1931
    Age 25
    Her only other notable film of 1931, This Modern Age, was released in August, and despite unfavorable reviews, was a moderate success.
    More Details Hide Details MGM next cast her in the film Grand Hotel, directed by Edmund Goulding. As the studio's first all-star production, Crawford co-starred opposite Greta Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, and Wallace Beery among others. Receiving third billing, she played the middle-class stenographer to Beery's controlling general director. Crawford later admitted to being nervous during the filming of the movie because she was working with "very big stars", and that she was disappointed that she had no scenes with the "divine Garbo". Grand Hotel was released in April 1932 to critical and commercial success. It was the highest-grossing movie of the year, and won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Crawford achieved continued success in Letty Lynton (1932). Soon after this movie's release, a plagiarism suit forced MGM to withdraw it. For many years it was never shown on television nor made available on home video and is therefore considered the "lost" Crawford film. The gown with large ruffled sleeves, designed by Adrian, which Crawford wore in the movie, became a popular style that same year, and was even copied by Macy's.
    Dance, Fools, Dance, released in February 1931, was the first pairing of Crawford and Gable.
    More Details Hide Details Their second movie together, Laughing Sinners, released in May 1931, was directed by Harry Beaumont and also co-starred Neil Hamilton. Possessed, their third film together, released in October, was directed by Clarence Brown. These films were immensely popular with audiences, and were generally well received by critics, stapling Crawford's position as one of MGM's top female stars of the decade, along with Norma Shearer, Greta Garbo, and Jean Harlow.
    In 1931, MGM cast Crawford in five films.
    More Details Hide Details Three of them teamed her opposite the studio's biggest male star and King of Hollywood, Clark Gable.
  • 1930
    Age 24
    Thomas LeSueur abandoned the family a few months before Crawford's birth but reappeared in Abilene, Texas, in 1930 as a reportedly 62-year-old construction laborer.
    More Details Hide Details However, after his death on January 1, 1938, his age was given as 71. Crawford's mother subsequently married Henry J. Cassin (died October 25, 1922). This marriage is listed in census records as Crawford's mother's first marriage, calling into question whether Thomas LeSueur and Anna Bell Johnson were ever legally wed. The family lived in Lawton, Oklahoma, where Cassin, a minor impresario, ran the Ramsey Opera House. Despite his own relatively minor status as an impresario, Cassin managed to get such diverse and noted performers as Anna Pavlova and Eva Tanguay during his career. Young Lucille was reportedly unaware that Cassin, whom she called "Daddy", was not her biological father until her brother Hal told her. Lucille preferred the nickname "Billie" as a child and she loved watching vaudeville acts perform on the stage of her stepfather's theatre. The instability of her family life affected her education and her schooling never formally progressed beyond elementary school.
  • 1929
    Age 23
    Crawford made a successful transition to talkies. Her first starring role in an all-sound feature-length film was in Untamed in 1929, co-starring Robert Montgomery.
    More Details Hide Details Despite the success of the film at the box office, it received mixed reviews from critics, who noted that while Crawford seemed nervous at making the transition to sound, also noted that she had become one of the most popular actresses in the world. Montana Moon (1930), an uneasy mix of Western clichés and music, teamed her with John Mack Brown and Ricardo Cortez. Although the film had problems with censors, it was a major success at the time of its release. Our Blushing Brides (1930), co-starring Robert Montgomery and Anita Page, was the final installment in the so-called Our Dancing Daughters franchise. It was a greater success - both critically and financially - than her previous talkies, and became one of her personal favorites. Her next movie, Paid (1930), paired her with Robert Armstrong and was another success. During the early sound era, MGM began to place Crawford in more sophisticated roles, rather than continuing to promote her flapper-inspired persona of the silent era.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of Crawford: On June 3, 1929, Crawford married Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. at Saint Malachy's Roman Catholic Church (known as "The Actors' Chapel" due to its proximity to Broadway theatres) in Manhattan, although neither was Catholic.
    More Details Hide Details Fairbanks was the son of Douglas Fairbanks and the stepson of Mary Pickford, who were considered Hollywood royalty. Fairbanks Sr. and Pickford were opposed to the marriage and did not invite the couple to their home, Pickfair, for eight months after the marriage. The relationship between Crawford and Fairbanks, Sr. eventually warmed; she called him "Uncle Doug" and he called her "Billie", her old childhood nickname. Following that first invitation, Crawford and Fairbanks, Jr. became more frequent guests, which was hard on Crawford. While the Fairbanks men played golf together, Crawford was left either with Pickford or alone. To rid herself of her Southwestern accent, Crawford tirelessly practiced diction and elocution. She said: After the release of The Jazz Singer in 1927—the first major Hollywood movie with synchronized sound—sound films, or talkies as they became nicknamed, were all the rage. The transition from silent to sound panicked many—if not all—involved with the film industry; many silent film stars found themselves unemployable because of their undesirable voices and hard-to-understand accents or simply because of their refusal to make the transition to talkies. Many studios and stars avoided making the transition as long as possible, especially MGM, which was the last studio to switch over to sound. The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929) was one of the studio's first all-sound films, and their first attempt to showcase their stars' ability to make the transition from silent to sound.
  • 1928
    Age 22
    In 1928, Crawford starred opposite Ramón Novarro in Across to Singapore, but it was her role as Diana Medford in Our Dancing Daughters (1928) that catapulted her to stardom.
    More Details Hide Details The role established her as a symbol of modern 1920s-style femininity which rivaled Clara Bow, the original It girl, then Hollywood's foremost flapper. A stream of hits followed Our Dancing Daughters, including two more flapper-themed movies, in which Crawford embodied for her legion of fans (many of whom were women) an idealized vision of the free-spirited, all-American girl.
  • 1927
    Age 21
    Also in 1927, she appeared alongside her close friend, William Haines, in Spring Fever, which was the first of three movies the duo made together.
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  • 1926
    Age 20
    In 1926, Crawford was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars along with Mary Astor, Dolores del Río, Janet Gaynor, and Fay Wray among others.
    More Details Hide Details That same year, she starred in Paris, co-starring Charles Ray. Within a few years, she became the romantic female lead to many of MGM's top male stars, including Ramón Novarro, John Gilbert, William Haines, and Tim McCoy. Crawford appeared in The Unknown (1927), starring Lon Chaney, Sr. who played a carnival knife thrower with no arms. Crawford played his skimpily-clad young carnival assistant whom he hopes to marry. She stated that she learned more about acting from watching Chaney work than from anyone else in her career. "It was then," she said, "I became aware for the first time of the difference between standing in front of a camera, and acting."
  • 1925
    Age 19
    Credited as Lucille LeSueur, her first film was Lady of the Night in 1925, as the body double for MGM's most-popular female star, Norma Shearer.
    More Details Hide Details She also appeared in The Circle and Pretty Ladies (both 1925), starring comedian ZaSu Pitts. This was soon followed by equally small and unbilled roles in two other 1925 successes, The Only Thing and The Merry Widow. MGM publicity head Pete Smith recognized her ability to become a major star, but felt her name sounded fake; he told studio head Louis B. Mayer that her last name—LeSueur—reminded him of a sewer. Smith organized a contest called "Name the Star" in Movie Weekly to allow readers to select her new stage name. The initial choice was "Joan Arden" but, after another actress was found to have prior claim to that name, the alternate surname "Crawford" became the choice. Crawford later said that she wanted her first name to be pronounced "Jo-Anne", and that she hated the name Crawford because it sounded like "craw fish", but also admitted she "liked the security" that went with the name.
    She departed Kansas City on December 26 and arrived in Culver City, California on January 1, 1925.
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    Beginning her career as a dancer in travelling theatrical companies, before debuting as a chorus girl on Broadway, Crawford signed a motion picture contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1925.
    More Details Hide Details In the 1930s, Crawford's fame rivaled, and later outlasted, MGM colleagues Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo. Crawford often played hard-working young women who find romance and success. These stories were well received by Depression-era audiences and were popular with women. Crawford became one of Hollywood's most prominent movie stars and one of the highest paid women in the United States, but her films began losing money, and, by the end of the 1930s, she was labelled "Box Office Poison". But her career gradually improved in the early 1940s, and she made a major comeback in 1945 by starring in Mildred Pierce, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. She would go on to receive Best Actress nominations for Possessed (1947) and Sudden Fear (1952).
  • 1924
    Age 18
    Rapf notified Granlund on December 24, 1924 that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (or MGM for short) had offered Crawford a contract at $75 a week.
    More Details Hide Details Granlund immediately wired LeSueur – who had returned to her mother's home in Kansas City – with the news; she borrowed $400 for travel expenses.
    Under the name Lucille LeSueur, Crawford began dancing in the choruses of traveling revues and was spotted dancing in Detroit by producer Jacob J. Shubert. Shubert put her in the chorus line for his 1924 show, Innocent Eyes, at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway in New York City. While appearing in Innocent Eyes Crawford met a saxophone player named James Welton. The two were allegedly married in 1924 and lived together for several months, although this supposed marriage was never mentioned in later life by Crawford.
    More Details Hide Details Crawford wanted additional work and approached Loews Theaters publicist Nils Granlund. Granlund secured a position for her with producer Harry Richmond's act and arranged for her to do a screen test which he sent to producer Harry Rapf in Hollywood. (Stories have persisted that Crawford further supplemented her income by appearing in one or more stag, or soft-core pornographic, films, although this has been disputed.)
  • 1922
    Age 16
    In 1922, she registered at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, giving her year of birth as 1906.
    More Details Hide Details She attended Stephens for only a few months before withdrawing after she realized she was not prepared for college.
  • 1904
    Age -2
    Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur in San Antonio, Texas, on March 23; the year is disputed, with 1904, 1905, and 1906 the most likely estimates, all cited in varying sources, the third child of Thomas E. LeSueur (died January 1, 1938), a laundry laborer, and Anna Bell Johnson (died August 15, 1958), neither of whose years of birth can be conclusively established.
    More Details Hide Details Anna Bell Johnson was of English, French Huguenot, Swedish, and Irish ancestry. Her elder siblings were Daisy LeSueur (ƒ 1902) and Hal LeSueur.
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