Joan Crawford (March 23, 1905 - May 10, 1977) was an Academy Award winning American actress.
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). Her older sister and brother were Daisy LeSueur, who died as a very young child, and Hal LeSueur, who was born September 3, 1903.
Her mother later married Henry Cassin. The family lived in Lawton, Oklahoma, where Mr. Cassin ran a theater, and later in Kansas City, Missouri.
Lucille preferred the nickname Billie, and she loved watching live acts perform. Her ambition was to be a dancer.
While still in elementary, 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 dancer under the name Billie Cassin, eventually making her way to New York City. In 1925 she signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio 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. 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 numerous films between 1925 and 1970. She also worked in radio and television, and she was a publicity executive for Pepsi-Cola in the 1960s.
She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Mildred Pierce in 1945, and was nominated for Possessed (1947) and Sudden Fear (1952).
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 Philip Terry (married July 21, 1942 in Ventura County, California, divorced 1946); and Pepsi-Cola chairman Alfred N. Steele (married May 10, 1955 in Las Vegas, Nevada).
Joan and her last husband, Alfred Steele, moved to New York City. He died there on April 6, 1959, leaving her a widow.
After her death, a book titled Mommie Dearest, which was written by the eldest of her four adopted children, Christina Crawford, was published. Friends of Joan were shocked by the tales of outrageous cruelty and called it fictitious.
It was made into a film starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford, which was seen to be camp by most viewers. Audiences howled with laughter at the overacted, melodramatic portrayal of Crawford. And the child abuse, control issues, et cetera, were acted out as outlandishly as they were written.
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."
She was cremated and her ashes buried with her last husband, Alfred Steele, in Ferncliff Cemetery at Hartsdale, New York. Her gravestone reads: Joan Crawford 1905-1977.
Joan Crawford's foot and hand 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) (MGM) (uncredited) ... double for Norma Shearer
- Proud Flesh (1925) (MGM) (uncredited) ... bit part
- A Slave of Fashion (1925) (MGM) (uncredited) ... mannequin
- The Merry Widow (1925) (MGM) (uncredited) ... extra
- Pretty Ladies (1925) (MGM) (credited as Lucille LeSueur) ... Bobby, a showgirl
- The Circle (1925) (MGM) (uncredited) ... Young Lady Catherine
- The Midshipman (1925) (MGM) (uncredited) ... extra
- Old Clothes (1925) (MGM) (credited as Lucille LeSueur) ... Mary Riley
- The Only Thing (1925) (MGM) (uncredited) ... party guest
- Sally, Irene and Mary (1925) (MGM) (credited as Joan Crawford) ... Irene
- Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (1926) (FIRST NATIONAL) ... Betty Burton
- Paris (1926) (MGM) ... the girl
- The Boob (1926) (MGM) ... Jane
- Winners of the Wilderness (1927) (MGM) ... Renée Contrecoeur
- The Taxi Dancer (1927) (MGM) ... Joslyn Poe
- The Understanding Heart (1927) (MGM) ... Monica Dale
- The Unknown (1927) (MGM) ... Estellita or Nanon, Zanzi's Daughter
- Twelve Miles Out (1927) (MGM) ... Jane
- Spring Fever (1927) (MGM) ... Allie Monte
- Dream of Love (1928) (MGM) ... Adrienne Lecouvreur
- Our Dancing Daughters (1928) (Cosmopolitan Production/MGM) ... Diana Medford
- Four Walls (1928) (MGM) ... Frieda
- Across to Singapore (1928) (MGM) ... Priscilla Crowninshield
- Rose-Marie (1928) (MGM) ... Rose-Marie
- The Law of the Range (1928) (MGM) ... Betty Dallas
- West Point (1928) (MGM) ... Betty Channing
- Hollywood Snapshots #11 (1929) (MGM) ... Herself
- The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929) (MGM) ... Specialty (With sound. In color. Singing, dancing, and part of an all-star cast performing the song "Singing In The Rain.")
- Untamed (1929) (MGM) ... Alice "Bingo" Dowling
- Our Modern Maidens (1929) (MGM) ... Billie Brown
- The Duke Steps Out (1929) (MGM) ... Susie
- Paid (1930) (MGM) ... Mary Turner
- Our Blushing Brides (1930) (MGM) ... Gerry Marsh
- Montana Moon (1930) (MGM) ... Joan "Montana" Prescott
- Possessed (1931) (MGM) ... Marian Martin
- This Modern Age (1931) (MGM) ... Valentine "Val" Winters
- Laughing Sinners (1931) (MGM) ... Ivy "Bunny" Stevens
- The Slippery Pearls (1931) ... Herself
- Dance, Fools, Dance (1931) (MGM) ... Bonnie "Bon" Jordan
- Letty Lynton (1932) (MGM) ... Letty Lynton
- Grand Hotel (1932) (MGM) ... Flaemmchen
- Rain (1932) (UNITED ARTISTS) ... Sadie Thompson
- Screen Snapshots (1932) ... Herself
- Today We Live (1933) (MGM) ... Diana "Ann" Boyce-Smith
- Dancing Lady (1933) (MGM) ... Janie "Duchess" Barlow
- Sadie McKee (1934) (MGM) ... Sadie McKee Brennan
- Chained (1934) (MGM) ... Diane Lovering, also called "Dinah"
- Forsaking All Others (1934) (MGM) ... Mary Clay
- No More Ladies (1935) (MGM) ... Marcia Townsend
- I Live My Life (1935) (MGM) ... Kay Bentley
- The Gorgeous Hussy (1936) (MGM) ... Margaret O'Neal "Peggy" Eaton
- Love on the Run (1936) (MGM) ... Sally Parker
- The Bride Wore Red (1937) (MGM) ... Anni Pavlovitch
- The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937) (MGM) ... Fay Cheyney
- Mannequin (1937) (MGM) ... Jessica Cassidy
- The Shining Hour (1938) (MGM) ... Olivia Riley
- Ice Follies of 1939 (1939) (MGM) ... Mary McKay
- The Women (1939) (MGM) ... Crystal Allen
- Strange Cargo (1940) (MGM) ... Julie
- Susan and God (1940) (MGM) ... Susan Trexel
- A Woman's Face (1941) (MGM) ... Anna Holm
- When Ladies Meet (1941) (MGM) ... Mary Howard
- They All Kissed the Bride (1942) (COLUMBIA) ... Margaret Drew
- Reunion in France (1942) (MGM) ... Michelle de la Becque
- Above Suspicion (1943) (MGM) ... Frances Myles
- Hollywood Canteen (1944) (WARNER BROS.) ... Herself
- Mildred Pierce (1945) (WARNER BROS.) ... Mildred Pierce
- Humoresque (1946) (WARNER BROS.) ... Helen Wright
- Possessed (1947) (WARNER BROS.) ... Louise Howell Graham
- Daisy Kenyon (1947) (20TH CENTURY FOX) ... Daisy Kenyon
- Flamingo Road (1949) (WARNER BROS.) ... Lane Bellamy
- It's a Great Feeling (1949) (WARNER BROS.) (uncredited) ... Herself
- The Damned Don't Cry (1950) (WARNER BROS.) ... Ethel Whitehead / Lorna Hansen Forbes
- Harriet Craig (1950) (COLUMBIA) ... Harriet Craig
- Goodbye, My Fancy (1951) (WARNER BROS.) ... Agatha Reed
- This Woman Is Dangerous (1952) (WARNER BROS.) ... Beth Austin
- Sudden Fear (1952) (RKO) ... Myra Hudson
- Torch Song (1953) (MGM) ... Jenny Stewart
- Johnny Guitar (1954) (REPUBLIC) ... Vienna
- Female on the Beach (1955) (UNIVERSAL) ... Lynn Markham
- Queen Bee (1955) (COLUMBIA) ... Eva Phillips
- Autumn Leaves (1956) (WILLIAM GOETZ/COLUMBIA) ... Millicent Wetherby
- The Story of Esther Costello (1957) (VALIANT FILMS/COLUMBIA) ... Margaret Landi
- The Best of Everything (1959) (20TH CENTURY FOX) ... Amanda Farrow
- What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962) (SEVEN ARTS/WARNER BROS.) ... Blanche Hudson
- The Caretakers (1963) (UNITED ARTISTS) ... Lucretia Terry
- Strait-Jacket (1964) (COLUMBIA) ... Lucy Harbin
- I Saw What You Did (1965) (UNIVERSAL) ... Amy Nelson
- Berserk (1968) (COLUMBIA) ... Monica Rivers
- Trog (1970) (WARNER BROS.) ... Dr. Brockton
- Revlon's Mirror Theater (1953) (CBS) "Because I Love Him" ... Margaret Hughes
- General Electric Theater (1954) (CBS) "The Road to Edinburgh" ... Mary Andrews
- General Electric Theater (1958) (CBS) "Strange Witness" ... Ruth
- General Electric Theater (1959) (CBS) "And One Was Loyal" ... Ann Howard
- The Joan Crawford Show (1959) (Pilot) "Woman On The Run" ... Susan Conrad
- Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater (1959) (CBS) "Rebel Range" ... Stella Faring
- Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater (1961) (CBS) "One Must Die" ... Sarah/Melanie Davidson
- The Foxes (1961) ... Millicent Fox
- Route 66 (1963) (CBS) "Same Picture, Different Frame" ... Morgan Harper
- Della (1965) (TV Movie) AKA Fatal Confinement ... Della Chappell
- The Man From U.N.C.L.E (1967) (NBC) "The Karate Killers" or "The Five Daughters Affair" ... Amanda True
- The Lucy Show (1968) (CBS) "Lucy and Joan Crawford" or "The Lost Star" ... Herself
- The Secret Storm (1968) (CBS) ... Joan Boreman Kane #2 (temporary replacement for Christina Crawford)
- Night Gallery (1969) (NBC) "Eyes" ... Claudia Menlo
- 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!" ... Joan Fairchild (Later reedited into the syndication package of Night Gallery.)
- Four Days in November (1964) ... Herself (signs autographs)
- MGM's Big Parade of Comedy (1964) ... AKA The Big Parade of Comedy
- That's Entertainment (1974)
- That's Dancing (1985)