Thursday, May 1, 2008

Timeless Thursday: Joan Crawford

Lucille Fay LeSueur is noted as being born on March 23, 1905. I say noted because there is no confirmation of this. There is controversy surrounding her actual date of birth. Crawford herself listed her year of birth as being 1908, however, there is good reason to place her year of birth as 1905.

If you search around the Internet for information on her, you will find that a lot of sites stick to publishing information about her career only. They all shy away from anything personal. It could be that it was just the way things were back then or some other reason. I certainly don't know. The one thing that rings throughout no matter which site though is that Joan Crawford was an amazing actress who paved the way for many other women in the field. She set the bar for other women to follow. Her legacy is proof positive of this. If you were born in the 70s, you knew of Joan Crawford; the 80s - same thing and I'll go as far as the 90s. I can't vouch for the 2000s. And this is kinda beside the point, but the hers is the most perfect nose I've ever seen.

Crawford is credited with some 104 movies in her lifetime starting in 1925. After suffering a series of miscarriages she adopted went on to adopt 5 children; raising 4 of them. The biological mother of her second adopted child discovered his whereabouts and reclaimed him. She had four husbands; 3 she divorced and the last one died leaving her a widow.

From all intents and purposes, it would seem that Crawford had a tough and unhappy early life but she didn't let that stop her from doing what it is that she had come to love (acting). Her first love was dancing and she turned down an offer to become an actor as a result but eventually took up the challenge. She was particularly meticulous when it came to grooming, wardrobe, exercise and even food storage and was known to have a 'cleanliness obsession'.

She is quoted as follows: "I wanted to be famous, just to make the kids who'd laughed at me feel foolish. I wanted to be rich, so I'd never have to do the awful work my mother did and live at the bottom of the barrel--ever. And I wanted to be a dancer because I loved to dance... Maybe the illusions, the daydreams, made life more tolerable, but I always knew, whether I was in school or working in some damned dime store, that I'd make it. (Funny, but I never had any ambition whatsoever to become an actress.)"

Because Joan was bullied and shunned at Stephens College by the other students due to her poor home life, she answered every single piece of fan mail she received in her lifetime except those from former classmates at Stephens. 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.

Her last public appearance was September 23, 1974 at a party honoring her friend Rosalind Russell who was battling breast cancer at the time.

Her alleged (by her daughter Christina) last words were, "Damn it...Don't you dare ask God to help me," which were directed at her housekeeper, who had begun to pray out loud. However reports were that she died alone of a heart attack (May 10, 1977) and was discovered by the housekeeper on the bedroom floor.

A year and a half after Crawford's death, Christina published a bestseller exposé entitled Mommie Dearest which contained allegations that Crawford was emotionally and physically abusive to her and her brother Christopher. Though many of Crawford's friends, as well as her other two daughters, harshly criticized and disputed the book's claims, some believed in the book and her reputation was somewhat tarnished. The book was later made into the 1981 film Mommie Dearest, starring Faye Dunaway as Crawford. It has been said that this movie was the beginning of the end of Dunaway's career, who enjoyed a massive success in the 70s with such now classics like Network. Dunaway has stated that this was indeed the film that somewhat killed her career, and therefore refused to promote its re-releases, now marketed as "a camp classic" by the studio. In the year of its release, 'Mommie Dearest' won 5 of the 9 Razzies (Golden Rapsberry Award, given to "the very worst of film") it was nominated for, including Worst Picture, Worst Actress, Worst Screenplay, Worst Supporting Actor and Worst Supporting Actress. The movie is now regarded as one of the "campiest films of all time." quoted directly from Wikipedia

In 1970, Crawford was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award by John Wayne on the Golden Globes.
Her hand and footprints are immortalized in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.

She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1750 Vine Street.
In 1999, Playboy listed Crawford as one of the "100 Sexiest Women of the 20th century," ranking her #84.
On AFI's "100 Years 100 Stars", she was ranked the #10 Female Greatest Screen Legend.
She was voted the 47th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly
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 she died in a air crash during a war bond tour. She 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%.

1946 - Won Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for: Mildred Pierce (1945)
1946 - Won Golden Apple for Most Cooperative Actress
1945 - Won Golden Apple for Most Cooperative Actress
1970 - Won Cecil B. DeMille Award
1945 - Won NBR Award Best Actress for: Mildred Pierce (1945)