Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born Lucille Fay LeSueur in San Antonio, Texas, she was the third child of Thomas E. LeSueur (1868-1938) and Anna Bell Johnson (1884-1958). She had an older sister Daisy, who died as a very young child; and a younger brother Hal, born September 3, 1902.
Her mother later wed Henry J. Cassin (born 1873). The family lived in Lawton, Oklahoma, where Mr. Cassin ran a theater. The 1910 Comanche County, Oklahoma, Federal Census, enumerated on April 20, shows Henry and Anna Cassin living at 910 "D" Street in Lawton.
While still in elementary school, she was placed in St. Agnes Academy, a Catholic school in Kansas City. Later, after her mother and stepfather broke up, she stayed on at St. Agnes as a work student. She then went to Rockingham Academy as a work student. And in 1922 she registered at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where she attended for less than a year.
She began her career as a chorus line dancer under the name Billie Cassin, eventually making her way to New York City. In 1925, she signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer under the name Lucille LeSueur and went to Culver City, California.
Starting out in silent movies, she worked hard to ensure that her contract with the studio would be renewed. She was one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars in 1926. A movie-magazine contest was the source of her well-known stage name. The female contestant who entered the name "Joan Crawford" was awarded $500.00.
Joan Crawford acted in many theatrical motion pictures over the course of her career, and she also worked in radio and television. During the 1930s, Joan was "Queen of the MGM Lot," and was best known for her steamy pairings opposite Clark Gable in nearly a dozen films.
She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in Mildred Pierce in 1945. Mildred Pierce was a huge hit for Warner Brothers and greatly expanded Joan's status as a star, especially after her having been fired from her longterm MGM contract by Louis G. Mayer only a few short years earlier. In the film, Joan played opposite a steller cast including Jack Carson , Ann Blyth, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden, and Butterfly McQueen. Director Michael Curtiz and Producer Jerry Wald developed the property specifically for Joan from the popular James M. Cain novel, which was adapted for the screen by Ranald MacDougall . In what may have been a publicity stunt, Joan took "ill" on the night of the Oscar presentation and the award was delivered to her home, where she rallied for the cameras. The now-iconic photograph of Joan holding her Oscar from her boudoir in her negligee made the front pages of every newspaper in the U.S.
Work at Pepsi
Besides her work as an actress, from 1955 to 1973 Joan Crawford was a publicity executive for Pepsi-Cola and traveled extensively for the company. Two days after the death of Alfred Steele, she was elected to fill his vacancy on the board of directors.
She was the recipient of the Sixth Annual Pally Award, which was awarded to the employee making the most significant contribution to company sales. It was in the shape of a bronze Pepsi bottle. She proudly kept her Pally next to her Oscar for Mildred Pierce.
In 1929, at the time she wed her first husband, Joan bought a mansion at 426 North Bristol Avenue in Brentwood, midway between Beverly Hills and the Pacific Ocean, which was her primary dwelling for the next twenty-six years. Over the years, Joan had her home on No. Bristol decorated and re-decorated by William Haines, her former silent film co-star and lifelong friend who was much in demand as an Interior Designer after receiving Joan's blessing.
She had four husbands: actors Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (married June 3, 1929 in New York City, divorced 1933), Franchot Tone (married October 11, 1935 in New Jersey, divorced 1939), and Phillip Terry (married July 21, 1942 at Hidden Valley Ranch in Ventura County, California, divorced 1946); and Pepsi-Cola president Alfred N. Steele (married May 10, 1955 in Las Vegas, Nevada).
Joan moved to a lavish apartment in New York City with her last husband, Alfred Steele. He died there on April 19, 1959, leaving her a widow. She then sold her Brentwood mansion and stayed on in New York.
Joan Crawford died in New York City of a heart attack while apparently ill with cancer. In her will, she gave the two youngest of her adopted children, Cindy and Cathy, $77,500.00 each. But she explicitly disinherited the eldest two, Christina and Christopher, with the phrase "...for reasons which should be well known to them."
After her death, an expose written by the eldest of her four children, Christina Crawford titled Mommie Dearest was published. Faye Dunaway starred as Joan in the movie adaptation with the same title. This movie was lampooned by many because of Dunaway's overacting. However, it should be noted that Mommie Dearest awakened many to the danger of child abuse. Crawford inflicted great physical and emotional abuse on her children. In fact, Christina later suffered a devastating stroke that many feel may have been caused by Crawford's blows to her head.
Joan Crawford's hand and foot prints are immortalized in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, and she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1750 Vine Street.
- Lady of the Night (1925) (double for Norma Shearer)
- Proud Flesh (1925)
- Pretty Ladies (1925)
- A Slave of Fashion (1925)
- The Merry Widow (1925)
- The Circle (1925)
- The Midshipman (1925)
- Old Clothes (1925)
- The Only Thing (1925)
- Sally, Irene and Mary (1925)
- 1925 Studio Tour (1925) (short subject)
- WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1926 (1926) (short subject)
- Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (1926)
- The Boob (1926)
- Paris (1926)
- Winners of the Wilderness (1927)
- The Taxi Dancer (1927)
- The Understanding Heart (1927)
- The Unknown (1927)
- Twelve Miles Out (1927)
- Spring Fever (1927)
- Tide of Empire (1928) (unfinished, refilmed in 1929)
- West Point (1928)
- The Law of the Range (1928)
- Rose-Marie (1928)
- Across to Singapore (1928)
- Four Walls (1928)
- Our Dancing Daughters (1928)
- Voices Across the Sea (1928) (short subject)
- Dream of Love (1928)
- Hollywood Snapshots #11 (1929) (short subject)
- The Duke Steps Out (1929)
- The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929)
- Our Modern Maidens (1929)
- Untamed (1929)
- Great Day (1930) (unfinished)
- Montana Moon (1930)
- Our Blushing Brides (1930)
- Paid (1930)
- I Come to Hollywood (1931) (Cameo)
- Dance, Fools, Dance (1931)
- The Slippery Pearls (1931) (short subject)
- Laughing Sinners (1931)
- This Modern Age (1931)
- Possessed (1931)
- Grand Hotel (1932)
- Letty Lynton (1932)
- Screen Snapshots (1932) (short subject)
- Rain (1932)
- Today We Live (1933)
- Dancing Lady (1933)
- Sadie McKee (1934)
- Chained (1934)
- Forsaking All Others (1934)
- No More Ladies (1935)
- I Live My Life (1935)
- The Gorgeous Hussy (1936)
- Love on the Run (1936)
- The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937)
- The Bride Wore Red (1937)
- Mannequin (1937)
- The Shining Hour (1938)
- The Ice Follies of 1939 (1939)
- The Women (1939)
- Strange Cargo (1940)
- Susan and God (1940)
- A Woman's Face (1941)
- When Ladies Meet (1941)
- They All Kissed the Bride (1942)
- Reunion in France (1942)
- Above Suspicion (1943)
- Hollywood Canteen (1944)
- Mildred Pierce (1945)
- Humoresque (1946)
- Possessed (1947)
- Daisy Kenyon (1947)
- Flamingo Road (1949)
- It's a Great Feeling (1949) (Cameo)
- The Damned Don't Cry (1950)
- Harriet Craig (1950)
- Cancer Fund Film Notables Attend Glittering Benefits (1951) (short subject)
- Goodbye, My Fancy (1951)
- This Woman Is Dangerous (1952)
- Sudden Fear (1952) (also executive producer)
- Torch Song (1953)
- Johnny Guitar (1954)
- Hollywood Mothers and Fathers (1955) (short subject)
- Female on the Beach (1955)
- Queen Bee (1955)
- Autumn Leaves (1956)
- The Story of Esther Costello (1957) (also co-producer)
- The Best of Everything (1959)
- Lykke og krone (1962) (documentary)
- What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
- The Caretakers (1963)
- How to Plan a Movie Murder (1964) (short subject)
- Strait-Jacket (1964)
- I Saw What You Did (1965)
- The Karate Killers (1967)
- Berserk! (1968)
- Trog (1970)
Partial Television Work
- Revlon's Mirror Theater (1953) (CBS) "Because I Love Him"
- General Electric Theater (1954) (CBS) "The Road to Edinburgh"
- General Electric Theater (1958) (CBS) "Strange Witness"
- General Electric Theater (1959) (CBS) "And One Was Loyal"
- The Joan Crawford Show (1959) (Pilot) "Woman On The Run"
- Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater (1959) (CBS) "Rebel Range"
- Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater (1961) (CBS) "One Must Die"
- The Foxes (1961)
- Route 66 (1963) (CBS) "Same Picture, Different Frame"
- Della (1964) (TV Movie) AKA Fatal Confinement
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1967) (NBC) "The Five Daughters Affair"
- The Lucy Show (1968) (CBS) "Lucy and Joan Crawford" or "The Lost Star"
- The Secret Storm (1968) (CBS) (daytime soap opera) ... Joan Boreman Kane #2 (temporary replacement for Christina Crawford)
- Night Gallery (1969) (NBC) "Eyes" ... Claudia Menlo (Crawford also hosted the pilot episode for this series)
- The Virginian (1970) (NBC) "The Nightmare" ... Stephanie White
- Beyond the Water's Edge (1972) (TV Movie) ... Allison Hayes
- The Sixth Sense (1972) (ABC) "Dear Joan: We're Going To Scare You To Death!" (Later reedited into the syndication package of Night Gallery.)
- The Best of Everything: A Joan Crawford Encyclopedia
- Joan Crawford Photo Gallery
- Joan Crawford Boulevard - Photo Gallery
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