Joan Crawford Poster

Trivia (102)

Entered Stephens College, a posh university for women in Columbia, Missouri, in 1922, but 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 an airplane crash returning from a war bond tour. Crawford then donated all of her salary to the Red Cross, which 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 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.

She taught director Steven Spielberg how to belch while filming their episode of Night Gallery (1969).

Cartoonist Milton Caniff claimed he based the character of "Dragon Lady" in his popular "Terry and the Pirates" comic strip on Crawford.

At the time of her death, the only photographs displayed in her apartment were of Barbara Stanwyck and President John F. Kennedy.

One-time daughter-in-law of Douglas Fairbanks. Former cousin-in-law of Lucile Fairbanks. Former niece-in-law of Robert Fairbanks.

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 or reputable it was, she always scrubbed the bathroom herself before using it.

In the early 1930s, tired of playing fun-loving flappers, she 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 led 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.

A 2002 TV biography revealed that her 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.

She 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 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.

She was bullied and shunned at Scaritt Elementary School in Kansas City by the other students due to her poor home life (after she became a star, she answered every single piece of fan mail she received in her lifetime except those from former classmates at Scaritt). She worked with her mother in a laundry and felt that her classmates could smell the chemicals and cleaners on her. She said that her love of taking showers and being obsessed with cleanliness had begun early in life as an attempt to wash off the smell of the laundry.

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.

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 was later exposed 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.

Was dancing in a chorus line in 1925 when she was spotted by MGM and offered a screen test. Although she wanted more than anything to continue dancing, she turned down the offer at first. Another chorus girl persuaded her to try the test, however, and a few weeks later she was put under contract.

When she 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 actor Phillip Terry, to whom she was married at the time he was adopted. After her divorce from Terry was finalized, she changed the boy's name to Christopher.

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.

Never liked the name "Crawford", saying to her friend 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".

Adopted four children: Christina Crawford, Christopher Crawford, and twins Cindy Crawford and Cathy 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

She was a favorite model of Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks for their early experiments in animation ("The Hand Behind the Mouse," by Leslie Iwerks).

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.

Was approached twice by the producers of the Airport disaster movie series. She was offered two different roles in both Airport 1975 (1974) and Airport '77 (1977), but refused.

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. Crawford's other friend Helen Hayes also confirmed the abuse allegations in her own memoir "My Life in Three Acts" (1990) when she wrote: "Joan was not quite rational in her raising of children. You might say she was strict or stern. But cruel is probably the right word.".

After her husband Alfred Steele died, she continued to set a place for him at the dinner table.

Although she 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 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.

Is portrayed by Barrie Youngfellow in The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980) and by Oscar winners Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest (1981) and Jessica Lange in Feud (2017).

She had English, as well as small amounts of French (the origin of her surname) and Welsh, ancestry.

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".

In Italy, almost all of her films were dubbed by Tina Lattanzi and in the fifties mainly by Lidia Simoneschi. She was once dubbed by Gemma Griarotti in the second dubbing of Grand Hotel (1932).

She was Fred Astaire's first on-screen dance partner. They appeared in Dancing Lady (1933).

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. Twenty-two years later she married Pepsi-Cola board chairman Alfred Steele.

In 1959, upon the death of her husband Alfred Steele, CEO of the Pepsi-Cola Company, she 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 that 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 Crawford were first suggested for the leads, Warner Bros. studio head Jack L. Warner replied: "I wouldn't give a plugged nickel for either of those two old broads." Recalling the story, 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 St.

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--63 years old at the time--temporarily took over Christina's role as a 28-year-old on the show. Christina wrote in her book "Mommie Dearest" that when she watched her mother's scenes on the telecast, it was obvious to her that Crawford had been drinking during the taping.

Former mother-in-law of Harvey Medlinsky.

Was in consideration for the part of Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday (1940), but Rosalind Russell was cast instead.

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 bacillophobia, the fear of germs.

The Disneyland attraction "It's A Small World" was donated to the famed theme-park courtesy of Joan. During the 1964 World's Fair, Joan, who at the time was member of the board of directors of Pepsi Cola, approached Walt Disney with the suggestion to create a ride dedicated to the children of the world. The musical boat ride was a smash hit and once the fair ended "It's A Small World" was transferred in its entirety to Disneyland and was officially reopened to park guests on May 28, 1966, with Crawford in attendance.

She was friends with: Van Johnson, Cesar Romero, Barbara Stanwyck, Myrna Loy, Ann Blyth, Gary Gray, Marlene Dietrich, Anita Loos, Rosalind Russell, Virginia Bruce, and George Cukor.

She once said in an interview that she and her arch-rival and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) costar Bette Davis had nothing in common. In reality, they had a handful of similarities in their personal lives. They both had fathers who abandoned their families at a young age, they rose from poverty to success while breaking into films during the late 1920s and early 1930s, had siblings and mothers who milked them financially once they became famous, became Oscar-winning leading ladies, were staunch liberal Democrats and feminists, had four husbands, had adopted children, and had daughters who wrote books denouncing them as bad mothers.

Her favorite musician was Glenn Miller and she especially loved his 1939 song "Moonlight Serenade".

A personal friend of President Lyndon Johnson, she was attending a White House dinner on January 17, 1967, and caused quite a tabloid stir when she implied that Cathy Douglas, the recent widow of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, failed to show "proper breeding" by not knowing how to correctly use her finger bowl.

Release of the book, "Joan Crawford: Hollywood Martyr" by David Bret. [2006]

In January 2014, she was honored as Turner Classic Movies Star of the Month.

Was considered for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939).

Her favorite actress was Agnes Moorehead.

She was a fan of the TV show Bewitched (1964).

Is one of 14 Best Actress Oscar winners to have not accepted their Academy Award in person, Crawford's being for Mildred Pierce (1945). The others are Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Judy Holliday, Vivien Leigh, Anna Magnani, Ingrid Bergman, Sophia Loren, Anne Bancroft, Patricia Neal, Elizabeth Taylor, Maggie Smith, Glenda Jackson and Ellen Burstyn.

Was the 26th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Actress Oscar for Mildred Pierce (1945) at The 18th Academy Awards on March 7, 1946.

Paramount was the one major studio Crawford never made a film for, although she came very close. In early 1953 she was in talks to star as Sylvia Merril in the Irving Asher production of "Lisbon", an international spy tale adapted from a short story by 'Martin Rackin' (qv(. However, the film was shelved when after several rewrites Asher and Crawford weren't sure about the strength of the script. She and director Nicholas Ray (who had been hired to direct "Lisbon") both went on to film the 1954 western Johnny Guitar (1954) for Republic Pictures. It was Republic that ended up making Lisbon (1956) with Maureen O'Hara playing Sylvia Merril.

In 1934, Crawford contacted the doctor who had performed her dental and facial operations in 1928, William Branch, for which there were follow-up procedures in 1932 and 1933. She asked him to help her develop a program through which she would underwrite the hospital bills for destitute patients who had once worked in any capacity in the film industry. These people would receive all necessary treatment at the Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital, where she endowed many rooms and a surgical suite. All the bills were sent to her and promptly and privately paid for, without referring them to her business manager. The arrangement was made on condition that her name not be used, and that she receive no credit or publicity for her charitable work in any way. Years later, when her donations were discovered and she was publicly praised, Crawford feigned ignorance of the entire enterprise. According to a confidential hospital report made in 1939, "In the two years after 1937, more than 390 major surgeries were completed. Joan Crawford paid the bills, she never knew the people for whom she was paying, and she didn't care.".

In his autobiography, Jackie Cooper claims he had an affair with Crawford when he was her teenage neighbor.

At the Academy Awards presentation for 1961 (1962), Crawford presented Maximilian Schell with his "Best Actor" Oscar; the following year, Schell, as presenter of the "Best Actress" award, presented the Oscar to Crawford, who was accepting for absent winner Anne Bancroft, in what became a pivotal moment in the rift between Crawford and Bette Davis. Crawford wasn't nominated, but her co-star Davis was for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). She was hurt but still wanted the spotlight to shine on her on Oscar night, so she called the New York-based nominees Geraldine Page and Bancroft and told them if they can't attend the ceremony in California, she'll accept on their behalf if one of them wins. Both actresses were in awe of Crawford and accepted her offer. Davis thought she would win, which would have made her the first actress to win three Oscars, even though no actress had ever won for a horror/suspense film at that point. When Bancroft's name was announced as the winner, Crawford walked past a stunned Davis and accepted the award and posed for photographs with the other winners. The rift between the two stars never healed.

Appeared alongside Diane Baker in three films: The Best of Everything (1959), Della (1964) and Strait-Jacket (1964). In the latter two, she played Baker's mother.

During her time on the Pepsi-Cola board of directors, whenever she and the current president of Coca-Cola happened to be in the same restaurant at the same time, each of them would send the other a bottle of the other's product.

During filming of her episode of Night Gallery (1969), its director, the then-unknown Steven Spielberg, presented her with the gift of a single red rose in a Pepsi-Cola bottle. At the time, she was still a member of the soft drink giant's board of directors.

The death of her fourth husband, Alfred Steele, devastated her financially as well as emotionally. After he died it was discovered that he had borrowed money from Pepsi-Cola against his future salary, and when he passed away she was left with massive debts to cover. Her dire financial situation is one of the main reasons--aside from the fact that she simply loved working--for the increasingly lackluster projects she signed on for in her later career.

She considered This Woman Is Dangerous (1952) to be the worst film she ever starred in.

Profiled in the book "Johnny Mack Brown's Saddle Gals" by Bobby Copeland.

According to Joan, "You manufacture toys. You don't manufacture stars" (cited in 'A Tribute to Joan Crawford', in Film Fan Monthly # 138, December 1972).

Is portrayed by Jessica Lange in Feud (2017).