Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford

Highest Rated: 100% Sudden Fear (1952)

Lowest Rated: 14% Trog (1970)

Birthday: Mar 23, 1905

Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, USA

A major Hollywood star of the 1930s and '40s, Joan Crawford essayed physically strong and emotionally pliable women in such films as "Mildred Pierce" (1945) and "Possessed" (1947) before devolving into a sort of camp self-parody in such potboilers as "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962) Born Lucille Fay LeSeuer in San Antonio, Texas on March 23, 1904, Crawford endured an emotionally turbulent childhood: her father, Thomas LaSuer, left the family shortly after her birth, and she believed that her stepfather, theater owner Henry J. Cassin, was her biological father until her brother, Hal, told her the truth. She received little primary education - an accident involving a broken milk bottle required multiple surgeries, which kept her out of elementary school. Cassin was later accused of embezzlement, which required the family to relocate to Kansas City; there, she attended St. Agnes Academy and later, Rockingham Academy, for which she paid through menial labor jobs at the schools. After leaving both schools, she began working as a dancer after winning a Charleston contest, and performed in revues across the country under the stage name Billie Cassin. While appearing in Detroit, Michigan producer Jacob J. Shubert hired her to perform in the chorus line for his 1924 Broadway show "Innocent Eyes." Flush with ambition, she pressed publicist Nils Granlund to arrange a screen test for her with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; the gambit paid off, and by 1925, Crawford - now billed as Lucille LeSeur - made her screen debut as Norma Shearer's body double in "Lady of the Night." Minor, often unbilled roles soon followed, but Crawford remained determined to achieve stardom, and after rechristening herself Joan Crawford - a name taken from a national magazine campaign organized by MGM publicity chief Pete Smith - began her ascent to screen fame. Her first significant movie role in "Sally, Irene and Mary" (1925) led to turns opposite the likes of John Gilbert ("Twelve Miles Out" 1927), Lon Chaney ("The Unknown," 1927) and Ramon Navarro"("Across to Singapore," 1928). Her star status was confirmed with a pair of pictures - the Oscar-nominated "Our Dancing Daughters" (1928), which cemented her in the minds of viewers as a free-spirited icon of the Jazz Age, and "The Hollywood Revue of 1929," where her performance of the song "Got a Feeling For You" assured that she would make a smooth transition to talking pictures. Crawford soon transitioned from ingénue to more sophisticated roles - she appeared opposite MGM's biggest male star, Clark Gable, in five films, beginning with 1930's "Dance, Fools, Dance" - and held her own opposite a cast that included Greta Garbo and Lionel Barrymore in the Oscar-winning "Grand Hotel" (1932). After leaving a tumultuous marriage to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in 1933, Crawford became one of MGM's most bankable players on the strength of such hits as "Dancing Lady" (1933) with Gable, Fred Astaire and Franchot Tone, to whom she would be married between 1935 and 1939. It, along with many of her output during the 1930, was lightweight fare, and Crawford pushed MGM chief Louis B. Mayer to place her in more dramatic projects; she made a successful transition to such films with 1936's "The Gorgeous Hussy" and "The Last of Mrs. Chaney" (1937), but subsequent efforts were met with audience indifference, and a string of expensive failures like "The Bride Wore Red" (1937) and "The Shining Hour" (1938), helped to earn her a spot in a notorious letter penned by Harry Brandt head of the Independent Theatre Owners Association of America, who compiled a list of "box office poison" - stars whose high salaries and appearances in films with limited appeal had a detrimental effect on movie exhibitors. Crawford continued to act for MGM, earning solid reviews for "A Woman's Face," while cultivating her personal life with the adoption of a daughter, Christina, in 1940 and another brief marriage to actor Philip Terry. In 1943, she signed with Warner Bros. for a three-picture deal; by most accounts, her tenure there was marked by open hostility from studio chief Jack L. Warner and director Michael Curtiz, who forced her to test for the title role in "Mildred Pierce." The film - an emotionally potent blend of melodrama and film noir - was a huge success for Warner Bros. and Crawford, who netted an Academy Award for Best Actress. She soon settled into a string of films that drew upon her "Pierce" screen persona - the long-suffering, lovelorn heroine - including "Humoresque" (1946), "Possessed," for which she earned another Oscar nomination, and "Daisy Kenyon" (1947). The tentative relationship between Warner and Crawford began to falter in the early 1950s, and she would cap her career with the studio with another hit, the tense thriller "Sudden Fear" (1952), for which she earned a third Oscar nomination. After marrying Pepsi executive Alfred Steele - who tapped Crawford to promote the beverage - in 1955, Crawford returned to MGM, where she continued to suffer -and inflict suffering - onscreen in such films as Nicholas Ray's "Johnny Guitar" (1954) and "Autumn Leaves" (1956). But the MGM output retained a patina of camp - fueled in part by Crawford's ripening screen image of the middle-aged but still lusty female - that would come to haunt her subsequent work. By the end of the decade, Crawford was investing a significant portion of her time to Pepsi - she assumed Steele's position on the company's board of directors following his death in 1959 - but wished to continue acting in an industry that was gradually turning her back on her. She was lured back to Warner Bros. with the offer of a lead in a psychological thriller, "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" Seeing that no other significant parts were coming her way, Crawford accepted the role of faded star Jane Hudson, even with the knowledge that Bette Davis - with whom she had been locked in a rivalry with since the 1940s - would play the showier role of Jane's psychotic sister, former child star "Baby" Jane. According to some accounts - including the 2018 TV miniseries "Feud: Bette and Joan" (FX, 2017) - the actresses waged open war on the set, but knew that the film's success might provide their careers with a second life. Their gambit proved correct: though Davis earned the lion's share of the critical praise, as well as an Oscar nomination, both actresses continued to work for the better part of the next decade. However, Crawford's roles largely echoed her "Baby Jane" work: emotionally damaged harridans in films like "Strait Jacket" (1964) for horror producer William Castle. She reunited with Aldrich and Davis for another horror title "Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (1964), but fled the picture under allegations of abuse from Davis, and was eventually replaced by Olivia de Havilland. Her remaining years were marked by bouts of alcoholism and illness, as well as a slew of professional embarrassments, most notably the absurd horror film "Trog" (1970), in which she played a scientist trying to civilize a revived Neanderthal, though her turn in a Steven Spielberg-directed segment for the 1969 pilot for "Night Gallery" (1970-1973) as an avaricious blind woman received solid reviews. She spent her final years in isolation before succumbing to a myocardial infarction on May 13, 1977. She bequeathed $77,000 each to her two youngest children, a pair of adoptees named Cindy and Cathy, and money to numerous charities, but nothing to Christina and her adopted brother, Christopher. That animosity between mother and daughter appeared to be repaid with the publication of Christina's autobiography, "Mommie Dearest" (1978), which alleged that Crawford was physically and emotionally abusive to her and her brother. It would later be adapted into a feature film, with Faye Dunaway as Crawford; the book and film would soon become part and parcel of the pop culture/camp veil that enveloped the whole of Crawford's career.

Photos

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

Movies

Credit
No Score Yet No Score Yet That's Action! Unknown (Character) - 1977
14% 24% Trog Dr. Brockton (Character) - 1970
No Score Yet 78% Night Gallery Miss Menlo (Character) - 1969
No Score Yet 32% Berserk Monica Rivers (Character) - 1967
No Score Yet 46% I Saw What You Did Amy Nelson (Character) - 1965
No Score Yet No Score Yet Della Della Chappell (Character) - 1964
88% 65% Strait-Jacket Lucy Harbin (Character) - 1964
No Score Yet 17% The Caretakers Lucretia Terry (Character) - 1963
92% 92% What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Miss Blanche Hudson (Character) - 1962
67% 59% The Best of Everything Amanda Farrow (Character) - 1959
No Score Yet 46% The Story of Esther Costello Margaret Landi (Character) - 1957
89% 62% Autumn Leaves Millicent Wetherby (Character) - 1956
No Score Yet 47% Female on the Beach Lynn Markham (Character) - 1955
No Score Yet 57% Queen Bee Eva Phillips (Character) - 1955
93% 85% Johnny Guitar Vienna (Character) - 1954
No Score Yet 45% Torch Song Jenny Stewart (Character) - 1953
100% 84% Sudden Fear Myra Hudson (Character) - 1952
No Score Yet 29% This Woman Is Dangerous Elizabeth `'Beth'` Austin (Character) - 1952
No Score Yet 29% Goodbye, My Fancy Agatha Reed (Character) - 1951
No Score Yet 85% Harriet Craig Harriet Craig (Character) - 1950
No Score Yet 73% The Damned Don't Cry Ethel Whitehead/Loran Hansen Forbes (Character) - 1950
No Score Yet 25% It's a Great Feeling Herself (Character) - 1949
No Score Yet 73% Flamingo Road Lane Bellamy (Character) - 1949
100% 59% Daisy Kenyon Daisy Kenyon (Character) - 1947
No Score Yet 69% Possessed Marian (Character) - 1947
91% 76% Possessed Louise Howell Graham (Character) - 1947
67% 71% Humoresque Helen Wright (Character) - 1946
86% 90% Mildred Pierce Mildred Pierce Beragon (Character) - 1945
No Score Yet 64% Hollywood Canteen Herself (Character) - 1944
No Score Yet 30% Above Suspicion Frances Myles (Character) - 1943
No Score Yet 50% Reunion in France Michele de la Becque (Character) - 1942
No Score Yet 44% They All Kissed the Bride Margaret "M.J." Drew (Character) - 1942
No Score Yet 46% When Ladies Meet Mary Howard (Character) - 1941
No Score Yet No Score Yet Strange Skirts Mary "Minnie" Howard (Character) - 1941
100% 83% A Woman's Face Anna Holm, aka Ingrid Paulson (Character) - 1941
75% 59% Strange Cargo Julie (Character) - 1940
No Score Yet 27% Susan and God Susan Trexel (Character) - 1940
92% 88% The Women Crystal Allen (Character) - 1939
No Score Yet 29% Ice Follies of 1939 Mary McKay (Character) - 1939
No Score Yet 44% The Shining Hour Olivia Riley (Character) - 1938
No Score Yet 67% The Bride Wore Red Anni Pavlovitch (Character) - 1937
No Score Yet 56% The Last of Mrs. Cheyney Mrs. Fay Cheyney (Character) - 1937
No Score Yet 59% Mannequin Jessie Cassidy (Character) - 1937
80% 62% Love on the Run Sally Parker (Character) - 1936
No Score Yet 32% The Gorgeous Hussy Peggy Eaton (Character) - 1936
40% 57% I Live My Life Kay Bentley (Character) - 1935
No Score Yet 40% No More Ladies Marcia (Character) - 1935
No Score Yet 69% Sadie McKee Sadie McKee (Character) - 1934
No Score Yet 46% Forsaking All Others Mary Clay (Character) - 1934
No Score Yet 71% Chained Diane Lovering (Character) - 1934
20% 29% Today We Live Diana (Character) - 1933
80% 69% Dancing Lady Janie Barlow (Character) - 1933
86% 77% Grand Hotel Flaemmchen (Character) - 1932
86% 65% Rain Sadie Thompson (Character) - 1932
No Score Yet 50% Dance, Fools, Dance Bonnie (Character) - 1931
No Score Yet 23% Laughing Sinners Ivy "Bunny" Stevens (Character) - 1931
No Score Yet 0% This Modern Age Valentine `'Val'` Winters (Character) - 1931
No Score Yet 0% Paid Mary Turner (Character) - 1931
No Score Yet 36% Our Blushing Brides Geraldine "Gerry" March (Character) - 1930
No Score Yet No Score Yet Montana Moon Joan "Montana" Prescott (Character) - 1930
No Score Yet 50% Our Modern Maidens Billie Brown (Character) - 1929
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Duke Steps Out Susie (Character) - 1929
No Score Yet No Score Yet Untamed Alice `'Bingo'` Dowling (Character) - 1929
43% 22% The Hollywood Revue Herself (Character) - 1929
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Law of the Range Betty Dallas (Character) - 1928
No Score Yet 50% West Point Betty Channing (Character) - 1928
No Score Yet 66% Our Dancing Daughters Diana Medford (Character) - 1928
No Score Yet No Score Yet Across to Singapore Priscilla Crowninshield (Character) - 1928
No Score Yet No Score Yet Rose-Marie Rose-Marie (Character) - 1928
No Score Yet No Score Yet Four Walls Frieda (Character) - 1928
No Score Yet 38% Spring Fever Allie Monte (Character) - 1927
No Score Yet No Score Yet Twelve Miles Out Jane (Character) - 1927
100% 88% The Unknown Nanon (Character) - 1927
No Score Yet 60% Tramp, Tramp, Tramp Betty Burton (Character) - 1926
No Score Yet 11% The Boob Jane (Character) - 1926
No Score Yet No Score Yet Pretty Ladies Bobby - a Showgirl (Character) - 1925
No Score Yet No Score Yet Sally, Irene and Mary Irene (Character) - 1925

TV

Credit
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Sixth Sense Unknown (Guest Star) 1972
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Lucy Show Unknown (Guest Star) 1968
No Score Yet No Score Yet What's My Line? Guest 1966 1964 1961-1962 1957
No Score Yet No Score Yet I've Got a Secret Guest 1963
No Score Yet No Score Yet Zane Grey Theater Unknown (Character) 1961 1959
No Score Yet No Score Yet Startime Unknown (Character) 1960

QUOTES FROM Joan Crawford CHARACTERS

Mildred Pierce says: I was always in the kitchen. I felt as though I'd been born in a kitchen and lived there all my life, except for the few hours it took to get married.

Flaemmchen says: I'd like to be in the movies.

Blanche Hudson says: Yes, she's emotionally disturbed. She's unbalanced!

Jane Hudson says: It's just that nosy Mrs. Bates going on about your picture last night.

Blanche Hudson says: Oh, really, did she like it?

Jane Hudson says: [imitating Blanche's voice] Oh, really, did she like it?... She liked it!

Blanche Hudson says: You wouldn't be able to do these awful things to me if I weren't still in this chair.

Jane Hudson says: But you *are*, Blanche! You *are* in that chair!

Myra Hudson says: I was just wondering what I've done to deserve you.

Louise Howell Graham says: David! Take me with you. DAVID!

Veda Pierce says: Are you sure you want to know?

Mildred Pierce says: Yes.

Veda Pierce says: Then I'll tell you. With this money, I can get away from you.

Mildred Pierce says: Veda...

Veda Pierce says: From you and your chickens, pies and kitchens and everything that smells of grease. I can get away from this shack and its cheap furniture. And this town and its dollar-days and its women that wear uniforms and its men that wear overalls.

Mildred Pierce says: I think I'm really seeing you for the first time in my life and you're cheap and horrible.

Veda Pierce says: You think just because you've made a little money, you can get some new hairdo and some expensive clothes and turn yourself into a lady. But you can't. You'll never be anything but a common frump whose father lived over a grocery store and whose mother took in washing. With this money I can get away from all the rotting, stinking thing that makes me think of this place or you!

Mildred Pierce says: Veda!

Crystal Allen says: There's a name for you ladies, but it isn't used in high society -- outside of a kennel.