“You know, the greatest thing about our business is that we’re allowed to see ourselves as others see us. Some of these kids see themselves and think, ‘O, gee, I look pretty good.’ What they don’t see is the loving photography, the singing, posture, dancing lessons that have been given them free. And the publicity. (They believe what they read about themselves.) There are going to be some awful lonely hearts with nothing but their newspaper clippings.” — Joan Crawford
Source: Hedda Hopper (1953)
Photo: Ruth Harriet Louise (1927)
“I must have been stagestruck from the first. It was entrancing to watch the dancers backstage at the theater. Once a ballerina in flaming-red tarlatan let me kneel before the lighted mirror of her dressing table while she put purple eye shadow and pink rouge on my face.
“I inhaled the smell of greasepaint, the musty scent of scenery, the dancers flying about, light dazzling in their spangled skirts.
“And I literally danced through the days, a butterfly, a bird. I never walked. I ran, danced, jumped, leaped, skipped rope, shinnied up a tree, ‘flew’ down. Mother classed these as tomboy antics and did not approve.” – Joan Crawford
Quote: A Portrait Of Joan: The Autobiography Of Joan Crawford, edited (ahem, ghostwritten) by Jane Kesner Ardmore.
“I’ll never forget Joan Crawford. She was just a kid when she arrived on the lot, a wide-eyed kid who believed everything she read in the fan magazines of the day. These stories stressed the fiction that all movie stars were slaves to their jobs, that they always arrived at the studio at 6 o’clock in the morning, ready for work. Joan believed every word of it. She lived at the adjacent Culver City hotel. Although she wasn’t assigned to a picture, she would set her alarm for a quarter to 6, then run all the way over here. Naturally there was nothing for her to do. She would stand around open-mouthed and wondering, watching the stars don their makeup. To some she became a definite nuisance. It seemed months before Joan finally got a call to work, as a chorus girl in a film featuring Lilyan Tashman and Za Su Pitts. She shared a dressing room with another newcomer – Myrna Loy.” — Josephine Terrell, former MGM employee
Source: Harold Heffernan (1942)
“I was born in front of a camera and really don’t know anything else.”– Joan Crawford
“Paint a house. I remember I never had seen a fat house painter, so I did the work myself. Climbing ladders, and going through the physical exertion of painting brought me right back to normal.” – Joan Crawford, giving fans advice on how to lose weight.
In a 1926 interview, Crawford claimed that her weight had increased into the 130’s, which prompted her to paint her cottage; however, it is unclear as to the location of that cottage.
Source: Columnist Hortense Saunders.
The Unknown (1927). With Lon Chaney.
The Unknown (1927). With Norman Kerry.
“That fall of 1928, I went around with my little box camera taking pictures of every marquee that had my name in lights. From this period on, I was never again carefree. Before, I had been absolutely sure of myself in a brash and very young way. Now I began to study and observe myself…” – Joan Crawford
“Crawford was an earthy bisexual who went through men and, when they were available, young women with the same ruthlessness she used to reach the top. Intimates called her Billie.” – The Sewing Circle: Female Stars Who Loved Other Women
“It is possible for an actress to achieve success without knowing anything about dancing, but surprisingly few have. Naturally, I am forever grateful for dancing, for it was because of this that I got my motion picture contract. In Chicago, I worked in Ernie Young’s Revue and then went on to New York in the Winter Garden. It was there that Harry Rapf saw me, had a screen test made of me, and later wired me to come to the studio in California and sign a contract.” — Joan Crawford in 1928
“If I can’t be me, I don’t want to be anybody. I was born that way.” — Joan Crawford
Photographer: Ruth Harriet Louise
“I ended up loathing Joan. For one thing, she tried hitting on me several times.” — Anita Page
Photo: Our Dancing Daughters (1928). With Dorothy Sebastian and Anita Page.
Our Dancing Daughters (1928). With Johnny Mack Brown.
Our Modern Maidens (1929)
“Lots of newcomers to films undoubtedly think that posing for photos is a waste of time. It doesn’t need to be. I have made a careful study of every single still picture that was 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.” – Joan Crawford
“Joan Crawford, THE star, was not born. She was built. A big-eyed, uneducated Texas girl named Lucille Le Sueur created her out of some glad rags, a set of beautiful bones, a head of fiery red hair – and a whole lot of nerve. ‘Joan Crawford‘ was an image designed along classic lines. No matter what the current fashions she always looked sleek, fleet, available, and utterly modern. She was built to last.” — Jeanine Basigner in 1979
“Any actress who appears in public without being well-groomed is digging her own grave.” ― Joan Crawford
With her first husband Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
“I don’t want to be just a movie star. I want to be one of the two or three greatest!” — Joan Crawford
Source: Ben Maddox (1931)
“I’m worse on some days than on others. There are times when I can’t stand the sight of workers on the stage. I keep hearing voices which say, ‘Who told her that she can act,’ ‘Isn’t she awful,’ ‘I could do better myself.’ “ — Joan Crawford
Source: John Auburn (1931)
Photographer: Irving Lippman (1931)
“One of the main ingredients of glamour, or elegance, is an easy poise.” — Joan Crawford
Source: Josephine Lowman (1961)
Laughing Sinners (1931)
“I’m ambitious and I’m proud of it.” – Joan Crawford
Source: Romney Scott (1932)
Photographer: George Hurrell
“There was a saying around MGM: Norma Shearer got the productions, Greta Garbo supplied the art, and Joan Crawford made the money to pay for both.” — Joan Crawford
Photographer: George Hurrell
Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford, two MGM stars who had one of the longest-running Hollywood feuds, are seen here in 1932 at the Biltmore Hotel. Even in this photo, they look like they are trying to out smile each other.
Shearer would later say, “I like and admire Joan. And I believe she feels the same way about me. I hope so. I think both of us have been hurt and embarrassed by the persistent stories of our rivalry and hatred…How could I hate Joan? She is so much like me. We have both been through so many of the same painful but invaluable molding processes. We have both had to fight desperately to overcome self-consciousness. We have both made ourselves over, both struggled to create an illusion of glamour and beauty.”
“Look what’s happened to me. When I first came out here I had about six stories in the motion picture magazines. You did one that I liked. That was done out of friendship. The other five were written because I was a newcomer – as one would write about a newly discovered freak. Then I met Joan Crawford and immediately there was another cycle of stories – this time about ‘Joan and Franchot.’ I hated that. I feel flattered, of course, when I see my name linked with hers. Who wouldn’t? But I don’t think those stories were fair to her – or to me. Joan has worked like the devil to attain the position she has. I think it’s a cheap way to gain publicity to try to do it on the strength of a friendship with someone who happens to have a big name. Her fans resent it. As far as I’m concerned, I feel a little ashamed every time I see an interview purporting to be about myself but which is, in reality, about my friendship with her, because I know down in my heart that if it hadn’t been for that friendship the story would never have been written.” — Franchot Tone
Source: Edmund Douglas (1935)
Photographer: George Hurrell (1933)
“What I want to become first of all is a Joan Crawford I can respect. Without self-respect, nothing else matters. I want to overcome this terrible inferiority complex I have – no one dreams what suffering it causes me. I go to my room and try to quietly analyze it, but it is a weakness I cannot overcome. It makes me ill at times. I want people to like me so that I’d go in a room with my arms outstretched if I could. But what I want most in life now is an education. The knowledge that comes with learning. I spend an hour a day with a professor from the University of Southern California. We study English literature, American history. When I haven’t the time to go to him, I read the dictionary!” — Joan Crawford
Source: Mayme Ober Peak (1933)
Photo: George Hurrell (1933)
“Why, just the business of letting yourself want something…letting yourself want it with all of you…is important. If you don’t want things intensely, you won’t get them. What’s more, you don’t deserve to get them!” — Joan Crawford
Source: Helen Louise Walker (1934)
Today We Live (1933). With Gary Cooper.
“A great many people do not know that there is distinct makeup for photographs, just as there is a distinct makeup for motion pictures. Never wear rouge on your cheeks, as this always shows black, and makes you look hollow-cheeked. Use only a little rouge on your lips, and apply blackening to the eyebrows and lashes. Use very little powder, and put just a bit of cold cream over the eyelids and on the cheeks. This picks up the lights and makes the face look alive.” — Joan Crawford
Photo: C.S. Bull (1934)
“I have only two rules in my house. One is that I decline to talk to anyone until after I have had a cup of coffee in the morning. No one is civilized until after he has had coffee. You ring for your breakfast and ask for whatever you want at whatever hour you want it. I get up at nine-thirty on weekdays, whether I am working or not. On Sundays, I stay in bed until twelve. I don’t know why. I just always have.” — Joan Crawford
As far as her other rule, she reportedly said, “Oh, just that I will not have people drop in uninvited.”
Source: Helen Louise Walker (1934)
“You have to be self-reliant and strong to survive in this town. Otherwise, you will be destroyed.” — Joan Crawford
“I have always known what I wanted, and that was beauty… in every form.” — Joan Crawford
“I like women, but I find them very complicated – and feminine.” — Joan Crawford
Source: Grace Wilcox (1934)
Photographer: George Hurrell (1934)
“The neurosis about cleanliness came very slowly. It’s going to take just as long a time for me to overcome it. When it was at its worst I never wore a dress, a hat, or carried a bag that all weren’t sent to the cleaners instantly. Imagine having a bag cleaned every time I carried it! That was just plain silly, I know it now…I wouldn’t smoke a cigarette unless I had opened the tin myself. And I wouldn’t use another cigarette out of that tin if someone else had taken one. I washed my hands every ten minutes. I wouldn’t step out of the house unless I had gloves on. I wouldn’t touch anything unless I had gloves. Slowly, I’m getting much better about this. I’m not doing such foolish things.” — Joan Crawford
Source: Katherine Albert (1934)
“Let me tell you something I’ve found out – the easiest way to spoil your whole life is by being sorry for yourself. Self-pity. Heaven knows I hate it! I’ve seen too much of it. The more I study it, the more I loathe it – worse than ten thousand cobras.” – Joan Crawford in 1934.
“Women are more emotional. They magnify and dramatize their bad moments and their losses. It seems to me that women live more for the moment than men do. They forget tomorrow they may win. They know only that today they have lost.” – Joan Crawford
“I must visualize my character clearly, know exactly how she’d react to any situation before I dare face a camera.” – Joan Crawford in 1935.
“I find suggestion a hell of a lot more provocative than explicit detail.” — Joan Crawford
Photographer: George Hurrell (1935)
“I’ve been criticized for dancing with gardenias between my teeth. Just that. Do these people believe that I am an idiot? I assure them that I am not! It just happens that I’m one of those people who can’t wear flowers. They wilt on me. So I carry them in my hand. But not, I assure you, between my teeth.” — Joan Crawford
Source: Mark Dowling (1936)
Photographer: George Hurrell
David Manners (right) abruptly left his motion picture career in 1936 after starring in a string of well-known films. Later in life, he later told writer David Del Valle why he left Hollywood:
“I never felt at home working in pictures and more and more I went back to Yucca Loma to recharge my batteries, never wanting to leave the ranch once I got there. Well, one afternoon, my agent told me to drive over to Metro to take lunch with Miss Joan Crawford and discuss doing a film with her.
“I could really have cared less but my agent seemed overjoyed that she had asked especially for me so I went. Metro was Joan Crawford’s personal playground, or that is what she was led to believe, so while we were having this lunch in her enormous movie star dressing room, she made a pass at me and in no uncertain terms explained that she liked to have her leading men in her bed as well as on the set, and that sometimes included directors. I was as polite as possible and said ‘No.’ Within minutes, her demeanor changed into what she really was all along, a whore, a foul-mouthed tramp who called me every name under the sun, following me out of her trailer as I went to my car, and was still cursing as I drove off the MGM lot and right out of town, never to set foot on a movie lot again. So ‘Thank You, Miss Joan Crawford‘ for making my decision so easy.”
She may not have known this at the time or didn’t care, but Manners was gay. Do you believe the story?
“I had read the criticisms of me and my movies and they were discerning. They said that Crawford needs a new deal, and they asked if I was doomed to explore forever the emotional misfortunes of the super-sexed modern young woman. And so, to break away from the pattern, I wanted to do The Gorgeous Hussy. Selznick laughed at me: ‘You can’t do a costume picture. You’re too modern.’ But I begged and begged and begged, and so they let me do it. I was totally miscast.” — Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford‘s Avocado Cream Canape Recipe
3 ripe avocados
1 teaspoon grated Spanish onion
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
Assorted crackers and mini toasts
Serving size: 8
Directions: Scoop out the pulp of the three avocados. Add Spanish onion and mayonnaise, a “pinch of salt, and a dash of tabasco.” Stir ingredients until creamy and then serve in a bowl. Place the bowl in the center of a large plate and surround the bowl with crackers and mini toasts.
This recipe comes from 1936 and seems legit. I had to format it since the article was talking about a dinner party she and Franchot Tone were hosting.
“They knew what was expected of them. These stars not only cooperated, they were eager. Some actors didn’t understand this, and you never heard from them again.”– M-G-M photographer Laszlo Willinger, who claimed that Joan Crawford, Vivien Leigh, and Clark Gable were his favorites.
“If you’re going to be a star, you have to look like a star, and I never go out unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.” — Joan Crawford
“The fact that a thing has never been done doesn’t prove that it can’t be.” – Joan Crawford.
Source: Ida Zeitlin (1940)
Photographer: Laszlo Willinger (1939)
“She was very much the star. I think that’s a very important thing to remember about her, that she was in command of what she did. Now, if she was not that confidant herself, she certainly gave a damned good performance of somebody that was! She lived the life of a star. When you walked into her house, it looked as though a star lived there.” — Rosalind Russell
The Women (1939). With Rosalind Russell.
“Joan Crawford tried to be all things to all people. I just wish she hadn’t tried to be a mother.” – Helen Hayes
Photo: 1945. With her adopted son Christopher.
Artist: Basil Wolverton. Year: 1945. 11.5 x 13.25 inches. Wolverton was a well-known cartoonist who later worked for Marvel Comics and Mad Magazine.
“If you have an ounce of common sense and one good friend you don’t need an analyst.” — Joan Crawford
Here she is on the set of Harriet Craig (1950)with her pet poodle, Cliquot.
“There is not enough money in Hollywood to lure me into making another picture with Joan Crawford. And I like money.” — Sterling Hayden, Crawford’s co-star in Johnny Guitar (1954)
During the making of the cult classic western, she was having an affair with the director, Nicholas Ray, while engaging in an off-set rivalry with co-star Mercedes McCambridge. Both Crawford and McCambridge were hitting the bottle pretty hard during production, though not hard enough to hit each other with their bottles.
“Joan was not a happy person and she liked showing that. She worked on her fan mail all day long. I just didn’t understand that, but she did. She washed her hands a lot. She washed her arms all the way up past her elbows. She just couldn’t get enough done in that direction. She was compulsive about being clean, clean, clean! She had beautiful furs to wear for that role, and those white furs were very clean; they looked immaculate!
“On one occasion, she mispronounced a word and she apologized to the director. He dismissed it by saying, ‘Well, don’t say it, then,’-making it clear that it was not at all important. I thought that was wonderful! She was so worried about herself, I felt.
“She was a good soul, a good soul. She wanted to be nice to everybody and kind, certainly kind to her fans. She thought about them a lot. Kind of a ‘queenish’ thing to be doing.” – Fay Wray
The two worked together on Queen Bee (1955).
Queen Bee (1955). With Barry Sullivan.
“Miss Taylor is a spoiled, indulgent child, a blemish on public decency.” — Joan Crawford
“Look, there’s nothing wrong with my tits, but I don’t go around throwing them in people’s faces!” — Joan Crawford on Marilyn Monroe
“She put on a show wherever she went. At a wedding, she was the bride. At a funeral, she was the corpse.” — author Dorothy Manners, a close friend of hers.
“It’s feast or famine. I haven’t had any good scripts. I’d much rather have a small authoritative part in a good picture. I don’t agree with those actors who count lines in a script.” — Joan Crawford
Source: Joseph Finnegan (1962)
Photo: 1962 at an airport in Madrid, Spain.
“We were polite to each other – all the social amenities, ‘Good morning, Joan’ and ‘Good Morning, Bette’ crap – and thank God we weren’t playing roles where we had to like each other. But people forget that our big scenes were alone – just the camera was on me or her. No actresses on earth are as different as we are, all the way down the line. Yet what we do works. It’s so strange, this acting business. It comes from inside. She was always so damn proper. She sent thank you notes for thank you notes. I screamed when I found out she signed autographs: ‘Bless you, Joan Crawford.’” — Bette Davis
“Bette is of a different temperament than I. Bette had to yell every morning. I just sat and knitted. I knitted a scarf from Hollywood to Malibu.”— Joan Crawford
“I’m not a calorie counter, but when I discover that something isn’t good for me, I make myself dislike it.” – Joan Crawford
Source: Lydia Lane’s interview with Crawford in 1959.
“Miss Crawford owned three sizes of bosoms. In the famous scene which she lay on the beach, Joan wore the largest ones. Let’s face it, when a woman lies on her back, I don’t care how well endowed she is, her bosoms do not stand straight up… The scene called for me to fall on top of her. I almost had the breath knocked out of me. It was like falling on two footballs!” — Bette Davis
Source: Betty Shimabukuro (1987)
“When she hated, she hated hard. She would do anything she could to destroy you.” — Christopher Crawford talking about his adopted mother.
Source: Jerry Parker (1978)
“I can’t tell you what I went through during those weeks that shooting stopped, waiting for Crawford to get well. It was sheer torture.” — Bette Davis
“I have always believed in the Christian ethic, to forgive and forget. I looked forward to working with Bette again. I had no idea of the extent of her hate, and that she planned to destroy me.” — Joan Crawford
Photo: On the set of Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) before Crawford left the film.
JOAN CRAWFORD DIP
2 (3 oz. each) pkgs. cream cheese
2 tbsps. milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 twin-pack FRITOS Horseradish Dip Mix
1 twin-pack FRITOS Green Onion Dip Mix
2 tbsps. lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
Soften cream cheese with milk; add sour cream and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and let stand 30 minutes. Serve with FRITOS King-Size corn chips or LAY’S potato chips.
Photographer: Bruce Davidson
Artist: Harold Pierre Montiel. Year: possible 1960s. Acrylic on canvas board. 11.75 x 13.75 in. Montiel’s work appeared in a couple of entertainment magazines that started in the late 1950s and 1960s.
Groucho Marx, Marlene Dietrich, and Joan Crawford. Artist: H. Pierre Montiel. Year: 1994. Acrylic on board.