- Birth name:
- Lucille Fay LeSueur
- Date of Birth:
- 10 May 1905 San Antonio, Texas, USA
- 5' 5" (1.65 m)
Joan Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur on March 23, 1905 in San Antonio, Texas. She was the product of a broken home before she was born in that her parents were already separated before the birth. Her mother had trouble keeping husbands after having married three times. Joan was fond of dancing and had entered several dance contests. She wanted a career in show business because it was much more glamorous than the odd jobs she was working. One dance contest she won landed her in a chorus line. Before long, Joan found herself dancing in the big cities of the Mid-West and along the Atlantic coast. After almost two years dancing, Joan decided to take a chance and packed her bags and moved to Los Angeles, California and the movie colony of Hollywood. She felt movies might afford her a chance of fame and glory and she was determined to succeed. Not long after arriving in California, Joan got her first bit role as a showgirl in Pretty Ladies (1925) in 1925. Three other films quickly followed. Although the roles weren't much to speak of, Joan continued to toil away. Throughout 1927 and the first part of 1928, Joan was handed menial roles. That ended with the role of Diana Medford in Our Dancing Daughters (1928). The film was the one to get her elevated to star status. She had made the tough hurdle of making the "big time". Now she was faced with another. The "talkie" era was upon the movie colony and many stars of the era were suddenly worried about their futures. With silent pictures, it didn't matter what kind of voice you had, but with sound pictures it made a tremendous difference. While some stars saw their livelihood halted, Joan's strong voice enabled her to continue. Her first film with sound was in Untamed (1929). The film was a success and Joan's career was still in top form. As she entered the 1930s, Joan became one of the top stars in the MGM stable. Films such as Grand Hotel (1932), Sadie McKee (1934), No More Ladies (1935), and Love on the Run (1936), kept movie patrons and film executives happy. Joan was in top form.By the time the 1940s rolled around, Joan noticed she wasn't getting the plum roles which once came her way. There were new stars in town and the public wanted to see them. She left MGM and went to rival Warner Brothers Studio where she landed the role of a lifetime. In 1945, Joan landed the lead in Mildred Pierce (1945), a film depicting the rise of a housewife to a successful businesswoman. The film landed Joan her first and only Oscar for Best Actress. The following year she appeared with John Garfield in the well-received Humoresque (1946). In 1947, Joan landed the role of Louise Graham in Possessed (1947). Again she was nominated for a Best Actress from the Academy, but lost to Loretta Young in The Farmer's Daughter (1947).Joan continued to pick and choose what good roles she wanted to appear in. 1952 saw Joan nominated for a third time for her role of Myra Hudson in Sudden Fear (1952). This time the coveted Oscar went to Shirley Booth in Come Back, Little Sheba (1952). Her career slowed down tremendously after that. Movie after movie saw her relegated to menial roles, with the possible exception of 1962's What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) with her arch-rival, Bette Davis, who she detested. By now the feud, between the two was well-known. No one is sure exactly how it started, but one time Miss Davis said of Joan, "She's slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie." In return Joan said, "I don't hate Bette Davis even though the press wants me to. I resent her. I don't see how she built a career out of a set of mannerisms, instead of real acting ability. Take away the pop eyes, the cigarette, and those funny clipped words and what have you got? She's phony, but I guess the public really likes that".Her adopted daughter, Christina, wrote a tell-all book that did not put Joan in a flattering light called, "Mommie Dearest". Needless to say Christine was cut out of the will. Her final appearance on the silver screen was a 1970 flop called Trog (1970). Turning to vodka, she was not seen much afterward. On May 10, 1977, Joan died of cancer in New York City. She was 72 years old. She is interred in the same mausoleum as her MGM cohort Judy Garland in Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.