Movie Stars: Crawford, Joan–Biography

Joan Crawford was voted the tenth greatest female star in American cinema in a poll conducted by the American Film Institute

Crawford was born as Lucille Fay LeSueur March 23, 1904 in San Antonio, Texas, the third child of Thomas E. LeSueur, a laundry laborer.

Starting as a dancer in traveling theatrical companies before debuting as a chorine on Broadway, Crawford was signed to a contract by MGM in January of 1925.

Crawford began a self-publicity campaign and became nationally known as a flapper by the end of the 1920s.

In the 1930s, Crawford was competing for roles with MGM’s two prominent queen stars: Garbo and Norma Shearer, who was married to Irving Thalberg, head of production.

Crawford often played lower-class, hard-working or poor young women, who, ultimately, find romance and success. These “rags-to-riches” stories, which emphasized the tent of upward mobility, were well received by Depression-era audiences and were particularly popular with female viewer.

Crawford became one of Hollywoofds most prominent movie stars and one of Hollywood’s highest paid women.

Her films began losing money by the end of the 1930s, and in 1937, she was labeled “Box Office Poison.”

Her career gradually improved in the early 1940s, after being fired by MGM and moving to Warners.

She made a major comeback in 1945 by starring in Mildred Pierce, for which she won her first and only Best Actress Oscar.

In 1955, she married Pepsi Cola chair, Alfred Steele. After his death in 1959, Crawford was elected to fill his vacancy on the board of directors but was forcibly retired in 1973.

She continued acting in film and television through the 1960s.

After the release of the British horror film Trog in 1970, Crawford retired from the screen.

An appearance in 1974, in which some unflattering photos were published, motivated her to withdraw from public life.  She became reclusive until her death in 1977.

Her first three marriages ended in divorce; the last ended with the death of husband Alfred Steele.

She died May 10, 1977 at the age of 73.