Hello lovelies, today, I will be discussing ten shocking facts about Joan Crawford.
1.Her real age is unknown.
Though no birth certificate exists for Joan Crawford, everyone agrees on the March 23 date. Crawford always claimed 1908, which would put her age at 16 when she was placed under contract to MGM in January 1925. Like IMDb, other sources say 1905, and some say 1904, which biographer Donald Spoto argues is impossible since her brother Harold was born in September 1903. The consensus seems to have settled on the year 1906 as the most likely year of Crawford’s birth, but there is no definitive proof.
2.She was discovered in a chorus.
Joan grew up mostly poor in San Antonio, Texas, Lawton, Oklahoma, and Kansas City, Missouri. Her father abandoned the family around the time of the girl’s birth, and her mother took in laundry to make ends meet — a possible source of Joan’s later horror of wire hangers. A stepfather came and went, leaving Lucille with a new name, Billie Cassin. By 1922, Billie won Charleston contests in Kansas City and headed to Chicago and then New York to dance on stage. She was spotted in the chorus of The Passing Show of 1924 by MGM producer Harry Rapf, given a screen test, and offered a contract.
3.Her new name was chosen in a public contest.
MGM chief Louis B. Mayer saw potential in the new contract player, but not as either Lucille LeSueur or Billie Cassin. A $1,000 public renaming contest was announced, and the winning entry seemed to satisfy everyone except the bearer of the name, who thought it sounded like “crawfish.” Her good friend and sometime costar William Haines nicknamed her Crawford Cranberry.
4.Crawford was a petite, freckle-faced redhead.
She seems so big on screen, right? Well, the eyes and mouth were undoubtedly large and vivid, but the woman herself was barely 5′ 3″. As for the complexion and hair colour, the freckles were erased with makeup and the hair changed with the role.
5.Her connection with Clark Gable was possibly romantic.
Even though she had had four husbands — actors Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Franchot Tone, Phillip Terry and Pepsi-Cola president Alfred Steele — and many lovers, Crawford was always close to Clark Gable. Gable co-starred with Crawford in eight movies, more than anyone else, and the two are rumoured to have pursued an affair on and off for decades. They were indeed good friends, and when Gable’s wife Carole Lombard was killed in a 1942 plane crash, Crawford took over her scheduled role in the film They All Kissed the Bride and donated her salary to the American Red Cross.
6.She used illegal baby brokers to adopt her children.
Crawford adopted three children — Christina and twins Cathy and Cindy — as a single parent prohibited in California. She used illegal baby brokers and travelled with baby Christina, who was born to a young unwed woman in Hollywood, to New York and then Nevada to legalize the adoption. Her other child, a son, was adopted when Crawford was married to Phillip Terry. For a brief time, this boy’s name was Phillip Terry II; when the marriage dissolved, Christopher Crawford was rechristened.
7.She was labelled box-office poison.
Though Crawford found a regular place in the Top Ten Money-Making Stars poll during the early and mid-1930s, in 1938, she, along with Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Katharine Hepburn, was labelled “box-office poison” by the Independent Theatre Owners Association of America. A series of substandard roles dimmed her star for a bit, but Joan was always good at comebacks.
8.A director accused her of wearing shoulder pads while filming ‘Mildred Pierce’
After she left MGM, Crawford tested for and won the title role in Mildred Pierce at Warner Bros., Her director, Michael Curtiz, was a notorious tyrant; on the first day of production, he became enraged by what he perceived as shoulder pads and reportedly ripped Joan’s dress at the neckline — only to uncover bare, if unusually ample, shoulders. She feuded with Mercedes McCambridge on set.
9.She feuded with Mercedes McCambridge on set.
If you’ve seen Johnny Guitar, you’ll know that its most memorable moments capture the enmity between Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge’s characters. The alcohol-fueled conflict spilled over onto the film’s Arizona location: let’s say that at one point, McCambridge’s clothes ended up spread on the highway outside the actresses’ motel. On the other hand, the legendary Crawford-Bette Davis feud during the filming of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? was a publicity concoction.
10.She became a Christian Scientist later in life
The star’s last movie, the B-level shocker Trog, was released in 1970, after which she did a few TV roles and then retired to her Manhattan apartment. She became a Christian Scientist and, according to some sources, stopped drinking. Due to her faith, she refused aggressive treatment for cancer, which eventually led to her death, on May 10, 1977, at age 69, 71, 72, or 73. She didn’t have a great fortune to leave, but her twins were provided for, as were several charities. Fatefully, Christina and Christopher were not.