American Legends: The Life of Joan Crawford

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Jan 13, Jessica rated it did not like it Shelves: biography-autobiography , read-in What a hagiography. This is a book written by a clearly infatuated, delusional, biased author whom I almost suspect is secretly a Joan Crawford drag queen. No one should ever be canonized like this. This book is page after page of how infallible Joan is. Every film he recounts, and trust me, he recounts every. She is incorruptible.

Photos of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis with Their Children

Joan did a ton of movies and some were indeed excellent. However, I believe there were many more that were absolute garbage. Mainly because Joan could never stop playing Joan. No matter the character.

Joan Crawford's Style Evolution: From Flapper To Screen Legend (PHOTOS)

Many have commented in the beginning she would always play the shop girl who claws her way up. The author actually disputes that by pointing out in only 2 of her films she was a shop girl. In this one she was a waitress, blah, blah, blah. Shop girl is a metaphor but he takes offense and tries to make her early films more diverse and far reaching as opposed to the formulaic characters she played. He down plays the fact that Warner Bros. Lord almighty, I wish they never made a movie out of that book because it trivializes the content.

Those who have only seen the movie could not grasp the depth of detail Christina provides that gives her narrative authenticity and believability. He attempts to disprove the wire hangers story and the evidence he gives is speculative at best. She relates after the vicious beating how she badly she regretted the decision in light of the extreme consequences. It gives their accounts a big boost of credibility.

11 Quotes From Joan Crawford's Book 'My Way Of Life' Prove The Legend Had Unique Advice For Women

When the author recounts the beautifully designed and decorated apartment she has with Arthur Steele there is zero mention of the fact that she made the rest of the buildings tenants crazy with the round the clock construction that ultimately lead to lawsuits.

And the glossing over he does of Joan and Bette Davis' notorious and well documented acrimony is pathetic and laughable. He actually contends Joan was the one who suggested Bette Davis to the director ad she haf been looking for a vehicle to co-star with her for a long time. Come on. And of course Joan is more beautiful than Bette in this film. Bette having a grotesque appearance due to the make up that was exacerbated by a life time of heavy smoking and drinking. Strong, independent, fiery and unapologetically. Apr 22, Terry rated it it was ok Shelves: non-fiction.

This is just an extended filmography, really. There is no real "new" personal information and definitely very thin source material, relying quite heavily on Crawford's own autobiographies, which might not be quite the most objective source. Spoto also does let you know right up front that he adores Joan Crawford and loathes the infamous book her adopted daughter wrote, although the interpretations he makes of Crawford's behavior actually seem to be pretty weak, thus reinforcing the image most ha This is just an extended filmography, really.

Spoto also does let you know right up front that he adores Joan Crawford and loathes the infamous book her adopted daughter wrote, although the interpretations he makes of Crawford's behavior actually seem to be pretty weak, thus reinforcing the image most have of Crawford as a monstrous mother. But the book does deserve credit for working hard to show that Crawford has been cruelly vilified for her ambition. She was ambitious; so what? Spoto asks. And since she married that ambition with extremely hard work, why do people put her down for it?

I feel that Spoto quietly makes the point that it's rather sexist to act like ambition is somehow an unfeminite trait. And Crawford was one of those stars who seemed to actually appreciate her opportunities and make the most of the benefits of the studio system. It wasn't until much later in her career that she started to throw her weight around to the detriment of her film work; up through the late s thus, after 20 years in the business she gave every picture her best, which is more than one can say about other studio system stars.

She also felt that the crew on each film were her peers rather than her subordinates and treated them accordingly, which also speaks pretty highly of Crawford as a working actress and a person.

Movie Legends - Joan Crawford (Icon)

So in some ways I think there are some interesting if subtly made points about the way Crawford has been painted by history, but overall, this just isn't a great book. View 1 comment. Dec 26, David Cerda rated it liked it. Spoto gives Joan a fair shake revealing her at her most vulnerable and sincere in her earlier years. He doesn't shy away from her alcohol abuse and issues with her children but as one might suspect there are two sides to every story and he is able to disprove many of the Mommie Dearest stories including a strong case against the wire hanger episode. This is why I was a bit confused that he used some of Christina's recollections as facts and questioned others.

How do you choose? He also dismisses Spoto gives Joan a fair shake revealing her at her most vulnerable and sincere in her earlier years. I have read many Crawford bios and this is one of the better ones. Spoto 'gets' Joan and why people loved her. She literally made herself out of nothing and her most devoted fans sense this and will always root for her, while other highbrow types dismiss her as just a 'movie star'. Dec 30, Cara rated it it was ok. The book was very detailed about her career and home life. I think she was a lonely person who was a great movie star.

She was definitely a career woman. I wasn't surprised to learn that the whole "no wire hangers" episode is extremely false and written by a bitter, spoiled daughter. I have read better movie star biographies though. It seemed that the author was so intent on getting the facts right, that the style is missing something. At times I was incredibly bored but managed to slog through The book was very detailed about her career and home life.

At times I was incredibly bored but managed to slog through it. Joan Crawford, what a woman! It's quite obvious that the author of this book is a big fan of Miss Crawford, he writes with such passion and enthusiasm about one of the greatest movie stars of our time. In saying that though, her films were her life, she was her movies and I'm sure if you asked her that she'd sa Joan Crawford, what a woman!

In saying that though, her films were her life, she was her movies and I'm sure if you asked her that she'd say the exact same thing. What's nice about this book is the picture that's painted is a highly professional movie actress, a lovely woman who was a friend to those around her and was very generous and charitable, a world away from what sadly many thanks hugely in part to the silly but fun film Mommie Dearest think of her.

It took me a little longer than usual to read this book as I wanted to really savour all the information, I'm a big Joan Crawford fan and I always love reading new and interesting facts about her, of which this book has many. I never knew that she wasn't a trained actress, she never once took an acting class, hard to believe when you look at her mighty impressive filmography.

I also learnt a lot in regards to her marriage to Alfred Steele of Pepsi Cola, the only thing I wish there was more of was her childhood and upbringing, supposedly there's very little information out there about that though so I guess that's why it's only glossed over in this book. What you'll find here is the woman behind the screen queen, the woman behind all the preconceived and inaccurate, I'm looking at you Christina Crawford ideas. If you're a Joan Crawford fan I highly suggest you read this flattering, in depth and very well written biography.

It's a nice offset to all the falsehoods in Mommie Dearest. Joan would be happy with it and so am I. Dec 22, Lori rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction , hollywood. Because of my devotion to her and her films I can easily find something positive with even the most banal Crawford offering but, happily, in this case no such searching was necessary.

Since the publication of daughter Christina's alleged memoir Mommie Dearest in , it has been a thankless job of sorts to support Crawford and acknowledge not only her contribution will start this review off by stating that I am a huge Joan Crawford fan; she is without a doubt my favorite classic movie actress.

Since the publication of daughter Christina's alleged memoir Mommie Dearest in , it has been a thankless job of sorts to support Crawford and acknowledge not only her contributions to the world of film but also the undeniable talent that was hidden under the tag of "movie star".

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Prolific biographer Donald Spoto, who has also offered up works on Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Alfred Hitchcock, among others, not only acknowleges Crawford's many contributions to film and those incredible roles she turned out but does an admirable job in exploring Crawford's life and lengthy career, the highs and the lows, without titillating gossip and rehashed attacks on Crawford's character. Spoto himself is obviously a Crawford fan, and for some may come across as a Crawford apologist - for whatever reason, he does not address the question of whether Crawford's first marriage was not to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

However, even without these details, a reader of Possessed will leave the book with an understanding of how complex, driven, willful , fortunate, lonely and utterly compassionate of a person Joan Crawford was. It is remarkable today, nearly ninety years after Crawford's initial arrival in Hollywood, how this former laundry worker, a dropout, and struggling dancer would become one of the greatest stars and actresses to be put on film. Spoto does a commendable job tracing Crawford's early life and fleshing out Hollywood of the s and, when Crawford came into her own professionally, the glamorous and one of a kind s.

Special attention is paid to Crawford's incomparable style and fashion, something some of her films from that time period were better known for than the actual acting or plot but such films are still fascinating and highly rewarding in this fan's opinion. Spoto covers Crawford's four marriages, each one to a very different type of man, her decades-long affair and relationship with Clark Gable, her long professional ties with MGM and Warner Bros. He also devotes many pages to Crawford's strained and often tumultuous family relationships, first with her mother and brother and later with her own children, most notably her two eldest, Christina and Christopher.

Spoto does quote sections from Christina's Mommie Dearest as well as quotes from a fellow thespian or acquaintance of Joan's who believed Christina's tale of a harrowing childhood.

He also quotes others who claim that Joan, while strict, was an attentive and loving mother and nothing like the monster depicted in Christina's book. Perhaps best of all are the sections of the book that highlight Crawford's many charitable actions and donations, most of which were never publicized during her lifetime. She not only made many financial contributions to known organizations like The American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association and The Muscular Dystrophy Association, to name a few, but also kept rooms available at a local hospital for persons unable to pay and anonymously picked up their medical bills, as well as those for the studio employees who worked on the soundstages and sets.

She never sought publicity or attention for these deeds and went out of her way to make sure she remained anonymous. As a diehard Crawford fan, I didn't learn a lot of new information from Possessed but I did finish the book with a greater admiration for Joan, as both a woman ahead of her time, and a devoted friend. Her attention to detail, her passionate desire to learn the ins and outs of filmmaking which she most certainly did and her fierce refusal to throw in the towel on her career at a time when women over thirty-five were shunned in the industry and expected to gracefully and silently retire, make her a glorious symbol of Hollywood at its finest.

Despite her flaws and her shortcomings, Joan Crawford was and remains one of a kind, one of MGM's "stars in the heavens" and Possessed a touching and reaffirming love note to her accomplishments, both professional and personal, and I think she herself would approve. Sep 22, Melissa Cecchini rated it it was ok. That is a fantastic quote! And the whole Mommie Dearest business, which I have not read but I do know the story. Again, even though I have not read the book or seen the movie, I just don't believe her daughter's account of I chose this book because I have a huge interest in the Golden Age of Hollywood but I was not well informed with Joan Crawford at all.

Again, even though I have not read the book or seen the movie, I just don't believe her daughter's account of how things happened. Needless, to say, I was intrigued to find more about Joan Crawford. Unfortunately, this book was not the best way to go about it. I definitely did learn more about her. And after reading this book I am still inclined to not believe what her daughter said.

Joan Crawford was a very hardworking and business savvy woman who built herself up from absolutely nothing. She definitely had a hard edge but she was extremely insecure and incredibly dedicated to her craft. There were a lot of things that I found admirable about her and also a lot of empathy for her. I wish I could be a little more like in some aspects Joan Crawford of my life. However, I found the book incredibly boring and I know I am such a slow reader but I found this book so hard to get through.

It felt more like a chore. Joan Crawford, by all accounts was a very vivacious and energetic woman right to the very end. I cannot imagine her life was as boring as this author wrote it! Feb 19, Michael Neno rated it liked it Shelves: biographies. The subtitle of this book could be more accurately called "A Life of Joan Crawford", due to the divergence of opinions of the people who knew Crawford. Since many especially younger people's image of Crawford is the over-the-top, borderline campy maniac portrayed in the biopic, Mommie Dearest, it's fitting that Spoto has written a well-researched biography that tips the scales on the other side.

Crawford's lifelong philanthropic efforts alone would give pause to most people who think of the sel The subtitle of this book could be more accurately called "A Life of Joan Crawford", due to the divergence of opinions of the people who knew Crawford. Crawford's lifelong philanthropic efforts alone would give pause to most people who think of the self-made movie queen as a monster.

In the end, Crawford was, like most of us, a conundrum of flawed contradictions, albeit one with a powerful, almost mythical sense of destiny and with a commitment to the obsessive hard work required to fulfill it. On a similar trail of thought, it's a shame that the talented Faye Dunaway was blasted by some less than thoughtful critics for her portrayal of Joan in Mommie Dearest and that she apparently took some of those criticisms to heart.

Dunaway was superlative in the role of Joan Crawford. It's a memorable, startling, classic performance. She followed the script to its logical conclusions and those who don't like the movie if, indeed, there are any now who don't should blame the script, not those paid to carry it out. If anything, Dunaway may have played Crawford too well for the audience's comfort.

That's something Crawford herself might have appreciated. Jul 25, Belinda rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , entertainment-bio. Another excellent bio from Donald Spoto. He has become about my favorite writer when it comes to the silver screen bio. One of the things I love about this book is the way he blows away the lies from "Mommie Dearest", a book that will definitely send the author to hell and I don't even believe in hell! Crawford--he covers her career, her romances, and her introspective self--and spends more time on the end of her life than any book Another excellent bio from Donald Spoto.

Crawford--he covers her career, her romances, and her introspective self--and spends more time on the end of her life than any book I have ever read. He gets rid of so many lies, and misleading facts and gossip that he returns the shine to this amazing star, taking away the stench of her adopted child's lies and misrepresentations and returning Joan to the heavens where she belongs--a wonderful actress, a flawed human being with incredible strength. A nice picture selection as well including some photos I have never seen which is uncommon for me.

Feb 06, Karen rated it liked it. A quick, mostly enjoyable, read. One example: Here's a quote from Crawford on page 28, "I have made a careful study of every single still picture ever shot of me. I wanted these stills to teach me what not to do on the screen. I scrutinized the grin on my face, my hair-do, my posture, my makeup, the size of my feet. But not so interesting that it should pop up again on page , presented as if we'd never read it before.

Speaking of careless -- there are also a few crappy low-rez images in the photo section. Joan would not approve. Nov 04, Herb rated it it was amazing Shelves: biography , motion-picture-actors-and-actresses , celebrities , swedish-americans. This is a wonderful read, one of the best biographies ever written about Joan Crawford. A real page-turner! Deena, please try to read this. You'll love it, too! Dec 06, Alex Gregory rated it liked it Shelves: given-away.

There are few celebrities that have inspired as much literature and debate as Joan Crawford. The star of dozens of films from the 's through the late 60's, Crawford has attracted her fair share of supporters and detractors over the years. Most famously, her adopted daughter Christina published a tell-all novel in titled Mommie Dearest. The book and its so-bad-its-good film adaptation starring Faye Dunaway characterized Crawford as a haughty, alcoholic woman who beat her children and ha There are few celebrities that have inspired as much literature and debate as Joan Crawford.

The book and its so-bad-its-good film adaptation starring Faye Dunaway characterized Crawford as a haughty, alcoholic woman who beat her children and had them doing garden chores in the middle of the night. More than 30 years after her passing, authors are still writing books about Crawford. At this point, writing a Crawford bio is almost a rite of passage for a professional biography writer.

Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford, written by noted biographer and admitted Crawford superfan Donald Spoto, claims to be a thorough and exhaustive "definitive biography", but inevitably comes up short. Possessed takes readers through a relatively brief overview of Crawford's life and rise to superstardom over the course of several decades, interspersed with a brief synopsis of each film she starred in, as well as anecdotes and accounts from her co-stars and friends. The book also seeks to reverse the perception of Christina's accusations toward her mother through an overview of Mommie Dearest and quotes from Joan's other children and friends who defended her when the book was released.

Spoto, who corresponded with Crawford as a young man in the 's, presents a decent biography which moves at a fast clip through most of the major incidents in her life. Attention is paid to her upbringing in Texas as an undereducated, neglected girl who took control of her destiny, and wound up in Hollywood as a young woman.

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Brief accounts are also made about some of her failed marriages and affairs to men like Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Finally, new documents are showcased regarding an average day in Crawford's schedule, and the various charities she supported over the course of her life.

Spoto's writing style takes on a dry and almost-clinical tone for the majority of the book. Each film is briefly discussed in chronological order, with one or two quotes from Crawford and other members of the production regarding their thoughts on it. There's not much in the way of new or exciting revelations about her character, as Spoto either refuses to elaborate or outright dismisses several rumors about her early childhood and young adult years. The main theme of the book that Crawford was possessed by demons during her career is not really supported by the narrative.

It actually creates a better case that Crawford was so determined to succeed that nothing - not her money-leeching brother, not her failed relationships, not the "boys club" attitude at MGM - could hinder her from succeeding in a world heavily stacked against her. Spoto also spends a number of paragraphs psychoanalyzing Crawford and her various roles - he claims that she chose negative or hardened female roles because of her upbringing, or awkwardly equates several of her roles with the notion that they, like Crawford, were possessed by demons.

What I personally wanted to see was some new or heretofore unrevealed information about Crawford especially from a book that claims it's the "definitive biography" on Crawford's life. Was there any truth to the rumor that Crawford starred in a peepshow vignette in to pay for her trip to Chicago? Retrieved October 07, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.

Joan Crawford was one of the most active and glamorous stars in Hollywood during the s and s. Her entire filmography spans a year period from to and includes over 70 films, from silent pictures to talkies. Best known for her portrayals of ruthless women, Crawford counted Hollywood's most memorable actors among her co-stars. The eldest of the three died in infancy. Their father, a laborer, deserted the family when Crawford was very young.

Her biological father appeared once, in , when Crawford was She spent a few days with him while making a film. Father and daughter were both intensely emotional over the reunion, but never saw each other again after that time. Cassin was the owner of a local opera house and an open-air theater. He gave his name to his new daughter, and from her earliest memories Crawford was known as Billie Cassin. As a young child, living as Henry Cassin's daughter, Crawford attended a tiny country school in rural Lawton.

She was enamored by life at her stepfather's theater, and yearned to become a dancer and an entertainer. Her aspiration was seriously threatened at age six, when she jumped from a porch, onto a jagged piece of glass and seriously injured her foot. That same year, Crawford learned of her true identity when Henry Cassin, rumored to have connections with the underworld, was taken to trial for embezzlement. Cassin was not convicted, but he moved the family to Kansas City , to start a new life. Crawford attended Scarritt Elementary School, until her parents sent her to St.

Agnes Convent School because they were unable to care for her. Henry Cassin became frustrated with the challenges of starting a new life and left the family when Crawford was ten. Rather than return to the public school , Crawford worked at the convent school in order to pay her own tuition and board. After elementary school , her mother sent her to Rock-ingham Academy where she continued to support herself by working at the school. Crawford was dismayed to learn, first at St.

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  • Agnes and later at Rockingham, that she was not treated as an equal by the other girls at the school, because she worked for her own upkeep. She became depressed and tried to run away, but eventually returned to the school. After completing high school, she attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, at the urging of Harvey Walter, her early grade school principal and secretary at Stephen's College. Crawford lasted only a few months at Stephen's College, before her desire to join the theater pulled her away. She joined a traveling dance troupe under her given name of Lucille LeSueur, but returned to Kansas City when the troupe disbanded.

    She worked as an operator for Bell Telephone Company, and then for various clothiers, before she succumbed once again to the lure of the chorus line. Crawford returned to Kansas City one final time before she embarked on her show business career once and for all. Crawford left for Chicago where she met the renowned producer J.

    He sent her to work in Detroit where she was discovered by talent agents. She took a screen test and signed a contract with Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios in Hollywood. In , she starred as a flapper in Our Dancing Daughters, the vehicle that brought the name of Joan Crawford to prominence.

    She emerged from the silent film era in when she starred in Untamed, her first "talkie" with co-star Robert Montgomery. Despite a concerted effort by Crawford, she never earned the acceptance of her in-laws. The rejection devastated Crawford and contributed in part to her divorce from Fairbanks Jr.

    Before and after the divorce, Crawford was enveloped by her stardom. Her relationship with Gable eventually overflowed beyond the movie set and erupted into a love affair that climaxed just prior to her divorce from Fairbanks in After her breakup with Gable, Crawford embarked on what was perhaps her most brazen and scandalous love tryst. Initially, Crawford's involvement with Tone was fueled by a love triangle with screen legend, Bette Davis. Both Crawford and Davis each fancied herself as the sole object of Tone's affections, yet it was Crawford who emerged victorious and married Franchot Tone.

    The marriage lasted four years. During that time Crawford suffered two miscarriages and repeated beatings by her husband. The couple divorced in , after Crawford discovered Tone in his dressing room with a young starlet, under compromising circumstances. After her divorce from Franchot Tone, Crawford adopted a ten-dayold infant and named the girl Christina Crawford. In , she made Reunion in France with John Wayne. On July 21, Crawford married her third husband, Phil Terry.

    The couple adopted a boy whom they named Phillip Jr. Crawford herself worked at a service canteen, where she served food to enlisted military personnel and assisted them in writing letters home. She also worked with the American Women's Voluntary Services, in providing day care to women who worked in the war effort. Two years later the war subsided and Crawford's career soared. In , she completed her Oscar-winning performance in the film Mildred Pierce. The following year, in the midst of mounting success in her career, she obtained her third divorce. Crawford testified during the divorce proceedings that Phil Terry was over-bearing and inhibited her status as a movie star.

    She won an Academy Award as best actress for her role in the movie.

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    Due to a fear of live audiences Crawford developed a psychosomatically induced fever of degrees and was bedridden on the day of the awards ceremony. Her career extended into the s, with twelve new movies, including Johnny Guitar in and Autumn Leaves in She made five more movies during the s, including the classic, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? In , after her divorce from Phil Terry, Joan Crawford adopted two baby girls, born one month apart. She called them her twins, although they were not related in any way. Crawford remained single until May 10, , when she eloped with Pepsi-Cola executive, Alfred Steele.

    When Steele died unexpectedly of a heart attack on April 19, , Crawford was left to pay the bills and to raise her four children. After Steele's death, Crawford inherited his spot on the Pepsi-Cola board of directors. She remained in that capacity, as the first woman ever to serve on that board, and went on to sign a publicity contract as a spokesperson for Pepsi-Cola.

    In addition to her film career, Crawford made 13 television appearances during the last 25 years of her life. In October , Crawford substituted in four episodes of Secret Storm, in place of her eldest daughter, who was a regular member of that cast but who was ill. In she wrote a memoir called My Way of Life. Although conflicting reports surfaced over the years, Crawford professed devotion to her children repeatedly during her lifetime.

    She used her prominence and popularity to politicize in behalf of adoptive parents. She died of a heart attack at her home in New York on May 18, Joan Crawford , —77, American movie star, b. San Antonio , Tex. After working as a Broadway chorus dancer, Crawford began making films in , eventually moving from musicals to drama. She made more than 80 movies, excelling at the dramatic role of the strong but troubled woman.