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1. Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford
2. My Way of Life
3. Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography
4. Joan Crawford: Hollywood Martyr
5. Joan Crawford: The Enduring Star
6. Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford,
7. Joan Crawford: Her Life in Letters
8. A Portrait of Joan : An Autobiography
9. Just Joan: A Joan Crawford Appreciation
10. Conversations with Joan Crawford
11. Joan Crawford
12. Joan Crawford: The Last Word (Thorndike
13. Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford,
14. A portrait of Joan;: The autobiography
15. Crawford: The last years : an
16. Films of Joan Crawford (Film Books)
17. Joan Crawford (Legends)
18. Joan Crawford
19. The Complete Films of Joan Crawford
20. Joan Crawford: The Lifestyle of

1. Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford
by Donald Spoto
Hardcover: 352 Pages (2010-11-01)
list price: US$25.99 -- used & new: US$17.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061856002
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Joan Crawford was one of the most incandescent film stars of all time, yet she was also one of the most misunderstood. In this brilliantly researched, thoughtful, and intimate biography, bestselling author Donald Spoto goes beyond the popular caricature—the abusive, unstable mother portrayed in her adopted daughter Christina Crawford’s memoir, Mommie Dearest—to give us a three-dimensional portrait of a very human woman, her dazzling career, and her extraordinarily dramatic life and times.

Based on new archival information and exclusive interviews, and written with Spoto’s keen eye for detail, Possessed offers a fascinating portrait of a courageous, highly sexed, and ambitious woman whose strength and drive made her a forerunner in the fledgling film business. From her hardscrabble childhood in Texas to her early days as a dancer in post–World War I New York to her rise to stardom, Spoto traces Crawford’s fifty years of memorable performances in classics like Rain, The Women, Mildred Pierce, and Sudden Fear, which are as startling and vivid today as when they were filmed.

In Possessed, Spoto goes behind the myths to examine the rise and fall of the studio system; Crawford’s four marriages; her passionate thirty year, on-and-off-again affair with Clark Gable; her friendships and rivalries with other stars; her powerful desire to become a mother; the truth behind the scathing stories in her daughter Christina’s memoir; and her final years as a widow battling cancer. Spoto explores Crawford’s achievements as an actress, her work with Hollywood’s great directors (Frank Borzage, George Cukor, Otto Preminger) and actors (Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Spencer Tracy, John Barrymore), and later, her role as a highly effective executive on the board of directors of Pepsi-Cola.

Illuminating and entertaining, Possessed is the definitive biography of this remarkable woman and true legend of film.

... Read more

2. My Way of Life
by Joan Crawford
Paperback: 224 Pages (1972-10-01)
list price: US$1.50
Isbn: 0671785680
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars Priceless
This is one of those now extinct types of books, popular in the 1960s and often written by ladies of glamour and stature, about how to "live graciously." This is by far the most entertaining, and useful, of the lot, as it is written by the late, great Joan Crawford, someone who learned and worked the hard way to get everything she had out of life. This included more money, success, fame, and glamour than any other woman of her day.

Crawford offers advice for every avenue of improving your life in this book -- from making yourself more attractive, to developing charm and manners and grace.It is a blueprint to becoming a lady or gentleman, something that is sadly long extinct in our society, where vulgarity, negativity, and the inability to appreciate beauty are the norm.

Crawford started out on the bottom tier of the caste system and worked her way up to the top, and she learned a lot of priceless things along the way. The primary theme of the book seems to be "appearances matter more than you think," for all the advice is geared towards impressions. Joan will teach you how to mold others' impressions of yourself. And you are obviously learning from a master.

The book is warm, humorous (sometimes unintentionally), and most of all helpful. In this day of long lost social graces, it is possible to revisit and learn an appreciation for the finer things in life with this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Joan Crawford Guide Book
Just what I was looking for as a gift for a big Joan Crawford fan. Book is rare. Condition, great. Kinda pricey, but expected for rare. Easy transaction.

5-0 out of 5 stars it's Joan's way or the highway
A very dear friend gave me this book as a housewarming present when I moved into my first home. She knew I was a big Joan Crawford fan, but she also gave me the book because it was (and still is!) so very practical and helpful. The book was written to show you how to take care of your home while always keeping your boyish hubby happy. Joan details the correct way to lay a table and with which china to use. I also learned about how to find the best flatware and why it's essential to always have at least 3 sets. One for everyday, one for special occasions and one for very special circumstances which should really never be used (because nothing is that special.) Joan also taught me that just because I may be busy or running in all different directions that doesn't mean that my home cannot always look perfect. And not just perfect, Joan Crawford Perfect. Because as Joan put it, a fine looking home is a reflection of the people who live in it. And I firmly believe that. This book also gave me a whole new understanding (and appreciation) into the domestic arts field. My mom always made it look so easy. There was never a spot of dust and nothing was ever out of place in our home; growing up as children we simply took all of that for granted. But it's not easy. It's a lot of work. Joan also always tells the readers that you don't need any money to start changing your life. It's all about self-respect and having a quick attention to detail. The best place to start though if you're unsure is the floor. That is always the very first thing people notice. If you're not in a position to replace the carpets, simply have them professionally cleaned on a regular basis. Once that is taken care of, you then need to worry about the walls (that's the second place everyone always notices.) In her book, "My Way of Life" Joan is always funny, considerate and terribly intent on educating her reader. And, if nothing else, buy this book for all the awesome pictures. It has tons and tons of stunning pictures in it of Joan, as well as her homes in NY and CA. I never knew that Joan was such a great cook, too! And as she puts it in her book, a good cook should always use the very best ingredients and like their home, their dishes are always a reflection of themselves. I have so much respect and admiration and love for Joan because she really did it all. She was a career woman who managed a busy home that like Joan, always looked its shining best!

5-0 out of 5 stars My Way of Life, by Way of Regimentation
Well, well, well.I, of course, have read and seen "Mommie
Dearest", so all I knew about this Hollywood icon was from an
admittedly one-sided autobiography of an allegedly abused
daughter.In Christina Crawford's book, she says that Joan
Crawford used scheduling, planning, and military discipline
every day so that life would hold no surprises, and so her
mother could control every second of it- almost like an OCD
type of ritualistic behavior so that bad things won't happen.
This book, if nothing else, totally validates that part of her
daughter's book.I am telling you the truth, this woman
PLANNED EVERYthing, right down to the second, and she BRAGS
about it. I don't think she ever did a spontaneous thing in her
entire adult life.Joan Crawford gives us advice on how to eat,
how to talk to your mate, how to sleep, and even how to STAND, for goodness sake.If you think I'm exaggerating, even slightly, PLEASE buy the book.The sad part is that you can really tell she means well.Here are a few examples of her thoroughness, almost word for word, from the book.On eating: NEVER have two foods of the same color on your table- for instance, mashed potatoes and cauliflower, or strawberries and tomatoes, because it doesn't look right. On serving food at a dinner party: It is an insult, nay, a crime, to serve your guests food on plates right out of the cupboard, as there's nothing easier than having your MAID stack said plates in the oven for a few hours before the party commences. If you don't do this, you are, at best, a mediocre to poor hostess. On storing clothing: she always hung her dresses on satin hangers (NEVER wire ones- and if you don't know that little tidbit, you haven't been paying attention since 1978), and she always pins gloves that match exactly to the hangers, along with scarves,etc., so she'll know where to find them.Here's one that captures her way of thinking in a nutshell:after she divorced her second husband, actor Franchot Tone, she called her maid and instructed her to handpick all the monogrammed linens free of the letter "T", since she no longer carried his last name.The maid had literally picked thread that formed the letter "T" out of hundreds of towels, handkerchiefs, sweaters, you name it (Ms. Crawford believed in monogramming everything).While the maid was working on an extra large towel one day, and listening to the radio to try to keep her sanity, she heard an urgent newsbreak-Joan Crawford had just eloped and married another actor- a man named Phillip TERRY!That meant- you guessed it- ALL the monograms would have to be resewn.The poor maidlost it at this point, according to Joan herself, and ran down the hall screaming "I quit! I quit!", over and over, until she had to be forcibly restrained.When Joan heard about it, she chuckled -- and hired a new maid. Here, in parting, are a few tips from Joan.DON'T stand with your feet together. Always put one slightly in front of the other. This aligns your spine and makes you look more... well,I never did figure out more what. Tip #2: if your husband pumps gas all day, draaag all the details of his day out of him, no matter WHAT he says. Borrow a book on the manufacturing and dispensing of gasoline, from your local library, so you can be "on his level" when he tells you all about his day. Pretend to be interested, because there's a woman at his job during the day that really IS.Finally, never let your husband see you exercise or groom yourself- make him believe that you have a naturally svelte body, pretty face, and perfectly coiffed hair. Joan once said- with an air of nostalgia,yet- that HER husband, Al Steele, former Vice-President of Coca-Cola, and later Chairman of the Board of Pepsi (with Joan Crawford sitting in on all of his meetings, and raising her manicured hand when she had a question, just like the fellas), NEVER saw a curler, or a dust rag. She said (and I really DO quote) "I hope he never knew such things existed!" Final helpful hint, average housewife to average housewife: DON'T EVER let him see you shopping for mundane, domestic products. Make him think that soap, detergent, toilet paper, and so on,"MAGICALLY SPRING, READY- MADE, RIGHT OUT OF THE CUPBOARD!" How's that for keeping the romance alive? I cannot convey how bizarre her thinking is in one short book review.I tried to tell my brother about how zany it was, and he was rather non-commital when I gave him a brief synopsis, and then solicited his opinion-but after I talked him into reading it, we discussed the book, he with a practiced look of concern. He said someone reslly should have gotten her to a psychiatrist, and then he laughed ,hysterically, for a few solid minutes. I should add, for the record, that my brother is in his final year of completing a graduate degree IN PSYCHOLOGY, so he's seen 'em all....all,that is, until he met "Mommie Dearest"......

5-0 out of 5 stars I'm still gasping for breath!
I managed to get a good deal on this book after reading all the rave reviews here.Everything that was said here by reviewers was 100% on target, and how!My head is still spinning from Joan's 'way of life'. From career to parties to the latest in fashion (for the times, anyway) and EVERYTHING in between, (she even includes little anecdotes from her own life experiences) Joan has it all figured out, and she does it all with a smile.In spite of the often unrealistic goals she sets for both herself and for others, I loved this book.Joan Crawford was a hard-working, dedicated and above-all-else determined woman; truly one-of-a-kind.Buy this book if you can; it's definitely worth the read. ... Read more

3. Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography
by Lawrence J. Quirk, William Schoell
Hardcover: 312 Pages (2002-09-30)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$11.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0813122546
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography explores the life and career of one of Hollywood’s great dames. She was a leading film personality for more than fifty years, from her beginnings as a dancer in silent films of the 1920s, to her portrayals of working-class shop girls in the Depression thirties, to her Oscar-winning performances in classic films such as Mildred Pierce.

Crawford’s legacy has become somewhat tarnished in the wake of her daughter Christina’s unkind memoir, Mommie Dearest, which turned her into a national joke. Today, many picture Crawford only as a wire hanger-wielding shrew rather than the personification of Hollywood glamour.

This new biography of Crawford sets the record straight, going beyond the gossip to find the truth about the legendary actress. The authors knew Crawford well and conducted scores of interviews with her and many of her friends and co-stars, including Frank Capra, George Cukor, Nicholas Ray, and Sidney Greenstreet.

Far from a whitewash—Crawford was indeed a colorful and difficult character—Joan Crawford corrects the many misconceptions and myths that abound and tells the story of one of Hollywood’s most influential stars, complete with on-set anecdotes and other movie lore. Through extensive interviews, in-depth analysis, and evaluation of her films and performances—both successes and failures—Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoell present Crawford’s story as both an appreciation and a reevaluation of her extraordinary life and career. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (54)

4-0 out of 5 stars the shining hour
Lawrence J. Quirk was a writer who knew Joan intimately throughout her long and successful film profession. This is an important book because it truly described Joan's entire life in detail. It was also a great book that detailed most of her films and included a lot of classic pictures, which were even interspersed throughout the text.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Dud
I was very disappointed with this book.It seems to be a reiteration of Quirk's previous book, an encyclopedia of Crawford's movies.As noted by other reviewers, the majority of the book's content is the chronology of movie work, with scant references to her personal life.

Although the content was lacking, it was the questioning of the author's credibility that lessened my enjoyment of the book.Quirk uses this medium to post catty remarks about those who held negative opinions of Crawford, making vague excuses for her based upon solely his opinion, rather than researched fact.His constant degradation of Christina Crawford, building throughout the book to the climactic last chapter where he revels in her being cut from Crawford's will, builds no sympathy for Crawford, but instead disgust at the non-professional mien that Quirk assembles for himself.In addition, Quirk's treatment of his relationship with Crawford is quite strange, almost to distraction.He refers to himself in the third person, but uses both his given name (Lawrence) and his nickname (Larry) refer to himself.He does this also when referencing his father, journalist James (Jimmy) Quirk.It's this disjointed prevalence of opinion amidst a feigned "disengaged" appearance that makes the reader wonder a.) was this book even edited for continuity before printing? and also b.) what did Quirk want to achieve in writing this?

I recommend this book for Crawford fans who want to read up on everything Crawford, but not for those wanting researched, factual information or even for those just wanting an interesting jaunt into the life of a screen legend.

1-0 out of 5 stars "Essentially" useless
Given Joan Crawford's active love life, up-and-down stardom and the occasional classic movie, one would expect that a really good, entertaining biography could be written about her.

Well, this isn't it. Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoell trip over their own feet, as they desperately try to convince the reading public that Crawford was some kind of Hollywood saint. "Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography" is less interested in Crawford's actual life, than in worshiping at her altar.

Crawford was born to an impoverished family, who rejected her at a young age when she was caught sleeping with her stepfather. She veered off into showbiz, becoming a notable starlet and marrying into Hollywood royalty. She also survived the transition from silent movies to talkies, which most stars didn't.

As as her marriages failed, she continued notching famous lovers (including Clark Gable) on her bedpost, as she rapidly ascended to megastardom. Even into old age, she continued making intriguing (and sometimes wretched) movies, and adopted four children to provide her with unconditional love.

Courtesy of her daughter Christina Crawford, there's still a lot of confusion about what kind of person Joan Crawford really was, especially since so many accounts differ. Was she really a mentally-ill harpy? Was she an essentially nice if needy person? Or was she an arrogant master of PR?

Sadly, "The Essential Biography" won't tell you. Quirk and Schoell dismiss all negative rumors about Crawford, because... well, because they're negative. Instead, Crawford is painted as a supersaint -- a perfect mother, the best actress ever, always classy, intelligent, and with high standards (but heaven forbid she be a snob). All her performances were flawless.

And if she ever did anything wrong... well, it was ALWAYS someone else's fault. If anyone criticized her, they are dismissed as has-beens and ingrates. If a director criticized her professionally, then he is basically called a hack. Other actors -- especially the legendary Bette Davis -- are thoroughly roasted, while Joan's own catty remarks and personal problems -- alcoholism, OCD, and sleeping with her stepdad -- are ignored.

In fact, it's completely impossible to find a moment of honesty in here. Schoell and Quirk are so hell-bent on painting Crawford as a sexual plaster saint that objectivity is thrown out the window. No new information is provided, except the authors' gushing recountings of long-ago interviews.

Fortunately the book is well-written, and has some lovely career photographs of some of Joan's best movies, as well as detailed plot descriptions of most of the better-known films, as well as the obscure ones (like "Our Dancing Daughters"). But after a hundred or so pages, the constant worship of Crawford becomes wearying.

"Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography" will be a good read for those who already think that Crawford can do no wrong. For the rest of us, it's just a 270-page recounting of two men's megacrushes. Nauseating.

1-0 out of 5 stars Horrible Book
This is the worst biography ive ever had the misfortune of reading.It provides no real insight into Joans character and is loaded(too much ) with detailed plot summaries and key scenes of ALL HER MOVIES(over 70).A brief plot symnopsis and maybe a note of key scenes of her LANDMARK MOVIES instead of all her movies would of been appropiate.There's no sense of actually getting deeper into Joan Crawford as a person.All it was was she drank out her fith of vodlka(100th proof) and carried on a affair with so and so then a LOOONG summary of her next film.

4-0 out of 5 stars Essential Filmography
If you are looking for an in-depth biography on Joan Crawford's life and that alone, this book is not for you.Rather than rehashing her life's story, as has been reported in several other books, the authors of this book made this more of a filmography - - dissecting Crawford's movies and the stages in her personal and professional lives when she made them.
I considered it fascinating reading - - starting with her early silent movie roles, as Lucille LeSueur, to her breakout role as Diana in Our Dancing Daughters, to her many shopgirl roles at MGM.During this period, the authors point out that Crawford herself was first living her "fairy tale" marriage to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.Her roles shifted slightly with the disintegration of that marriage, and her subsequent marriage to Franchot Tone, a more "serious" stage and film actor.MGM's reluctance to put her in serious roles, led her to the title of Box Office Poison and to the Warner's lot, where her "women's movies" coincided with the landmark of her fourth decade.As she aged, her films became more serious, more dramatic, more "female in trouble", until she fell into the horror movie cycle, a fate shared with Bette Davis.
For the most part, I thought this was a fascinating look at the incomparable Crawford.Nothing too earth shattering revealed here.Just a fresh, new look at her movies and the timing with which they were made.
A bonus for Crawford fans. ... Read more

4. Joan Crawford: Hollywood Martyr
by David Bret
Paperback: 336 Pages (2008-02-05)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$0.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0306816245
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The major biography of the star who, according to the New York Times, "personified the dreams and disappointments of millions of American women"

In the first fully uncensored biography of Joan Crawford, bestselling author David Bret follows Crawford from working in a Kansas City laundry to collecting an Oscar for Mildred Pierce, including details from her countless love affairs and her devotion toward Christian Science. Bret also divulges how her loathed mother forced her to work as a prostitute and use sex strategically, as well as what really led her to disinherit two of her four children, earning her the moniker "Mommie Dearest." Drawing on a wealth of unpublished material and interviews with stars like Marlene Dietrich and Douglas Fairbanks, David Bret presents a fascinating portrait of a single-minded, uncompromising woman. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

1-0 out of 5 stars Ok, I gave you another chance...
OK, Mr Brent!
I gave you another chance much to the chagrin of most everyone I know that read this book. I thought the worst was over when I closed the cover of Tarnished Angel but this one has that one beat in tawdry lies from beginnng to end. No small feat I might add!
I wouldn't know where to begin picking the inaccuracies apart. If that weren't enough what is up with the Gay agenda? Is there anyone Crawford knew who was straight? Before you or anyone comes back with any homophobia thrown at me, I am Gay.
I'm sitting here with your Errol Flynn book debating whether to give you that third try or not...

1-0 out of 5 stars Joan Crawford-Hollywood Martyr by David Bret (biography)
I hate to say it, but this book is barely worth the paper it's printed on.If the author, David Bret is not gay, I would be shocked because he certainly has a gay agenda. According to Mr. Bret, virtally everyone in Hollywood during its "Golden Age" was, without question, gay. As I read, it just got to the point when I stopped taking it seriously and read just for fun. He constantly takes unproven suppositions and states them as facts. While I'm not homophobic in the least, I AM a stickler for truth and there doesn't seem to be much of that in this book.Perhaps Mr. Bret feels emboldened by the fact that none of his subjects are still living, thus making it impossible for them to defend themselves and/or sue for libel. Certainly, Joan Crawford's own bisexuality is well documented as is the case for several actors and designers mentioned in this book. However, the author takes great liberties with others which is a disservice to his readers especially since we expect the truth from a biography.

1-0 out of 5 stars Save your money
At some 263 pages of text, this would qualify as shallow, just by length, for a serious biography of a figure as complex and contradictory as Joan Crawford.

Unfortunately, this book is below shallow.It's just about the most worthless biography I've ever read.

Why?There are several reasons:

1.Mr. Bret has adopted the "Joan could do no wrong" attitude of Crawford's maniacal fans.If there is any critical attitude in this book, I haven't been able to see it.What is particularly schitzophrenic is, on the one hand, denying the existence of any veracity in Christina Crawford"s Mommie Dearest--and on the other hand detailing Crawford's usually exceptionally nasty and vulgar behavior off the screen, which supports anytime in Mommie Dearest..When Crawford does something particularly foul, it's always justifiable; Bette Davis comes in for continuous condemnation.

2.There is very little substance.Suppopsedly, the book is pbased on unpublished documents and interviews.It feels like there is not a scrap of primary research here.Far too much space is devoted to (badly written) synopses of Crawford's films--most of which, at least to this reader, reenforce the notion that most of these films were pretty bad.

3.The book is riddled with errors.At various points (and these are only ones that spring to mind directly), Bette Davis is said to be at MGM (never--Warner's); that Billie Burke played the "Blue Fairy" in "The Wizard of Oz" (the Blue Fairy is a character in Pinocchio; Burke is Glinda, the Good Witch of the West); that Helen Lawson in Valley of the Dolls is based on Ms. Crawford (no--based on Ethel Merman)--and numerous other howlers that any moderately literate movie goer would notice.

4.The amount of scurrilous detail about sexual proclivities of the stars would make Kenneth Anger (Hollywood Babylon) blush.

The book opens with "She was one of four genuinely great movie actresses of the twentieth century--the others were Garbo, Hepburn, and Bette Davis."Surely a disputable attitude--and certainly (assuming that Katherin Hepburn is intended) Crawford would be last among them.

David Bret often speaks of Ms. Crawford legion of (unquestioning) gay fans.He is obviously one of them, with all the fanatical prejudice that such a statement applies--and unfortunately reenforcing any bigot's attitudes towards gay men.

In sum, shallow, shoddy, and poorly written.It fails to address the either the real complexities of Crawford's personality or the dichotomy of being a star and being an actress, which is the core of any serious evaluation of Crawford.It fails to put any critical framework around the films.And, on top of anything else, it's so turgidly written that it fails to be even good nasty fun.

Don't waste your time.

Don't waste your money.

It would be nice to accept this book simply as a guilty pleasure and let its shortcomings slide, but honesty requires pointing out the latter. The first problem is the fact that, although the book was originally published in Great Britain and then published the following year in the United States, no attempt whatsoever has been made to Americanize spelling and punctuation, much less the British slang that one must at times figure out from context ("She put paid to any mother-daughter bond that might have developed between them by rounding on her with, `Listen, kid . . . '"). Are publishing houses now so cheap that they can't afford a competent copy editor?

The next problem is the hype one encounters on the inside flap of the jacket, which declares, "Bret divulges . . . how her loathed mother forced Crawford to work as a prostitute, appear in pornographic films, and sleep her way to the top." Maybe the copywriter for that blurb didn't read the book. The author makes clear that Joan hated her mother, and reports (more as rumor than fact) that Crawford may have appeared in a few "stag films" (other writers have discredited this legend, using such evidence as birthmarks in publicity photos) and intimates that she did indeed sleep around, but nowhere does he establish the cause as being her mother.

These charges, along with many others, are not backed up by authoritative sources--there are no footnotes anywhere in the book--and smack of being entertaining but most likely apocryphal gossip. Virtually every male star of the time, according to Bret, was gay or bisexual and, more often than not, enormously hung. I'd love to believe, for example, that Errol Flynn and Franchot Tone really did spent an intimate night together in memory of actor Ross Alexander, "the lover they had shared," after his suicide, but where on earth did Bret dig up that anecdote? He's not saying.

It doesn't help that on numerous occasions, Bret makes minor errors that could have been easily checked and corrected: for example, the Broadway play in which Fred Astaire appeared was titled "The Gay Divorce," not "The Gay Divorcee" (Hollywood changed the title for the film version since it was deemed inappropriate to characterize a divorce as a happy thing), and Billie Burke portrayed Glinda the Good Witch in "The Wizard of Oz," not the Blue Fairy (a character from "Pinocchio"). If he can't be bothered to be precise about such minor matters--has he never even seen "The Wizard of Oz"?--how are we supposed to trust him for the many outlandish claims he makes about stars' private sexual conduct?

Joan Crawford: Hollywood Martyr shares some of these shortcomings with the equally delicious, similarly non-documented book Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine, but Considine does at least in some instances credit where he heard the rumors, and further attempts to be fair and balanced: for each vicious rumor about one of his subjects, he usually includes an opposing viewpoint from a different colleague. It is a much more readable and satisfying book overall.

One also has to question the value of the film synopses that make up a major portion of Bret's book--virtually every film Joan appeared in is related plot-point-by-plot-point. Why? If you are interested enough in Joan Crawford to be reading a biography of her, chances are you've already seen "Mildred Pierce"; and if by some freak occurrence some readers haven't, why in God's name spoil the surprise ending for them? A description of the overall theme of each film would be fine, but the he-said-then-she-said minutiae seem like so much filler. Perhaps Bret's publisher was paying him by the word.

I will give the author this: He obviously loves his subject, and it shows. I especially appreciated the way he attacks Christina Crawford and her loathsome book "Mommie Dearest" every time the opportunity arises. I'm sick of seeing that self-serving bitch on every documentary ever made about her mother (so she had to write thank-you notes at Christmas--boo hoo). It is totally obvious that once it became clear to Christina that she wasn't going to have a successful career as an actress, she decided to make a career out of smearing the name of her mother. It's time she finds some sort of productive job and gets on with her life, instead of being a professional victim.

So for a few giggles and at times unbelievably outrageous rumors and gossip, "Joan Crawford: Hollywood Martyr" can be fun, but for heaven's sake don't rely upon it as a reliable history of the woman who has justifiably been called The Ultimate Movie Star.

1-0 out of 5 stars Joan deserves better!
This book is not a biography.It is an attempt at muckraking expose. It is written by an author who cites very few authentic sources, who writes incorrect information ( He says that Ricardo Cortez was Sam Spade in the 1941 version of THE MALTESE FALCON when everyone knows it was Bogart who played the role in that version. Another example of total inaccuracy is when he states in his discussion of Johnny Guitar that Ward Bond played nothing but cop and fighter roles. Has Mr. Bret ever seen a John Ford film?) Bret is totally preoccupied with the sex lives of Ms. Crawford and her acquaintances, even to go so far to discuss stuff that in no way can be proven. He spouts heresy and hearsay. This is an offensive tome and does not attempt to honor Ms. Crawford's illustrious career. It is a sham and I was ashamed to have spent money on it. If you have the slightest respect for Joan Crawford, please avoid. ... Read more

5. Joan Crawford: The Enduring Star
by Peter Cowie
Hardcover: 240 Pages (2009-02-10)
list price: US$60.00 -- used & new: US$36.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0847830667
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Joan Crawford’s classic beauty, dazzling confidence, and sheer toughness made her the very definition of a star; her formidable talent won her an Oscar for Mildred Pierce and shines through in other classics such as Grand Hotel and The Women. Focusing on the often overlooked first half of her career, this is the first visual book to reclaim her place in the canon of glamour.Crawford pioneered a new depth that had not been seen before in roles for women. Her domineering charisma gave audiences a new kind of heroine, laying the path for today’s actresses from Meryl Streep to Cate Blanchett. Women—and many men—identified with her in ways they never had before. Drawing from archives around the world and including more than a hundred photos unseen in the past fifty years, Joan Crawford is sure to reintroduce fans to this ultimate Hollywood legend."She was the perfect image of a movie star . . . You could photograph her from any angle, and the face moved beautifully."—George Cukor, director ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars joan crawford
What a fabulous book full of interesting and gorgeous photos of Joan Crawford. The text is just as interesting.I could not put the book down the day I received it and had it half read by the next day. Finished it in three days.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hollywood Royalty
This coffee table book is a great conversation piece. I love the pictures of Joan taken by George Hurell. He really knew the power of light, shadows and retouching. Not one freckle is visible on many of his Crawford presentations. I chose the word 'presentation' because that is precisely what Hurrell seems to be conjuring. He promoted her to be a presence! Crawford's image still holds up today. Her trendsetting clothes,meticulously coiffed hair and flawless makeup originated the personification of STAR.
Today's leading ladies of the cinema, Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron have all unkowningly borrowed from the Crawford standard of beauty. Each and every time they strut down the red carpet, a tribute to Crawford is made.

5-0 out of 5 stars Nice coffee table book--A must for all Joan and Hurrell fans!
Beautifully printed, oversized, hard cover book with many beautiful Joan photos. Fans will love it. Some of the information is incorrect in the text portions (as reported by a previous reviewer)...but you would be buying this for the photos anyway and the reproduction of all the photos is very nice. Worth the money.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Valentine for Joan Fans
Peter Cowie's coffee-table book "Joan Crawford: The Enduring Star" is a lush photo-Valentine to Joan fans old and new ... but especially the new.

I came of Joan-age in the mid-1980s, just in time to revel in Alexander Walker's "The Ultimate Star," published in 1983, and the "Legends" Kobal-collection photo book, which came out in '86. These two books, along with "Conversations with Joan Crawford," published in 1980, helped solidify my Joan fandom after I'd discovered her as an actress for the first time---in a VHS rental, "Grand Hotel," watched on a tiny screen in a university library.

I suspect that the photographs of "The Enduring Star" will act for a new generation of those teetering on the brink of Joan-fandom as a similar catalyst: enough to send 'em over the edge into either full-blown admiration, or into a quest to learn more about her films before they make up their minds. Whichever the case, the book has done its job. As film critic Mick LaSalle says in his introduction: "Look at that face--modern, arch, knowing, passionate, ready to eat the world. That's still something new, that's today looking right at you." Indeed. You can't look at that face and not be impressed and dazzled.

Admittedly, when it was first announced in June 2008 that LaSalle would be writing the introduction to a book about Joan Crawford, I was immediately wary. He was, after all, a high-profile Norma Shearer-booster, and one who often dissed Joan in the process of boosting Norma (or just dissed Joan for the hell of it). His 2000 book "Complicated Women," for instance, includes such semi-bon mots as: "Crawford [in her early-1930s performances] looked like an act trying to impersonate a human being. Emotional problems certainly contributed to this, her image didn't help." Later in the book, he cattily says Crawford's onscreen energy is that of "a woman dancing fast to keep the whorehouse customers happy."

LaSalle now seems to have amended his cat-calls in time to contribute to his colleague Peter Cowie's book. He gives Joan more than a fair shake in his appreciative intro, as when he writes: "When you see her, you'll feel, maybe for the thousandth time, maybe for the precious first time, what she meant to the fans who originally discovered her. That should be our goal, to see Joan Crawford fresh, for the work she did. She and we deserve nothing less."

The book's primary strength lies in its thoughtfully chosen, gorgeous photographs, which do indeed enable even long-time fans to "see Crawford fresh." As a long-time fan myself, I enjoyed rediscovering and appreciating Joan's face anew with each turn of the page.

The selection of publicity shots, films stills, and a smattering of candids tilt heavily toward her 1930s images, with a focus on Hurrell's iconic work. That's definitely good enough, of course, but the fact that her post-1940 period isn't better represented is a bit disappointing (post-1940 pictures comprise about a fifth of the book's total); Joan had some stunning sessions during the '40s, for instance, with photographers like Bert Six and Whitey Schaefer, and it's a shame that their work, and more of Laszlo Willinger's late '30s sessions, didn't receive more attention. The dearth of Ruth Harriet Louise's seminal 1920s shots is also regrettable.

Another minor quibble: The book-jacket claims that more than 100 of the photos here have not been seen in the past 25 years. The author seems to have forgotten the miracle of the Internet! As the webmaster of a Joan website with a photo gallery consisting of literally 1000s of photos, I've spent the past 5 years compiling Joan photos from various sources for the gallery. I counted the photos in this book that I haven't yet seen: 53 of the 213. While the claim of "more than 100" might be off, for a regular Joan-photo-searcher like me to have not seen a fourth of the photos is, nonetheless, a more-than-respectable accomplishment.

And for the average Joan fan, or especially the Joan beginner or the merely curious, the selection here is an absolute treasure trove, destined to create new admirers or to turn what might have begun as only a passing interest into a full-fledged obsession. As director George Cukor writes, from his 1977 eulogy in this book's Afterword: "She had...above all her face, that extraordinary sculptural construction of lines and planes, finely chiseled like the mask of some classical divinity from fifth-century Greece. It caught the light superbly. You could photograph her from any angle, and the face moved beautifully...The nearer the camera, the more tender and yielding she became -- her eyes glistened, her lips parted in ecstatic acceptance. The camera saw, I suspect, a side of her that no flesh-and-blood lover ever saw." The photos in "The Enduring Star" religiously manifest the face of Cukor's words.

Despite the glory of the photographs, the text of the book is, however, primarily filler. Almost all of the information comes from other biographies, and Cowie heavily pads the text with lengthy plot details of the movies. In addition, the author gets a few facts wrong, including the howler that Marie Dressler was considered for the part of Flaemmchen in "Grand Hotel," and that "Flamingo Road" takes place in either Missouri or Mississippi (it's set in Florida). And a couple of photos from the 1930s show up in the 1940s section. Cowie also descends to the borderline-creepy on a couple of occasions, a la biographer David Bret, as when he waxes lascivious about Joan's sexuality: "When [Johnny Guitar] displays his sharpshooting skills, Vienna hisses, 'Give me that gun!' It's a moment of sheer emasculation, and once senses that the whip and the paddle are but a heartbeat away..." Then later there's: "[I]n private life she still craved a man whom she could respect, even if she would invariably wear the trousers in domestic (and perhaps sexual) terms."

This type of sniggering prose is not only annoying, but also incorrect: While conventional wisdom has it that Joan was a real ball-buster, in reality, her primary relationships were with men more accomplished than she, and as strong, if not stronger. Husbands Doug Fairbanks Jr. and Franchot Tone were both willful and cultured, and Joan played the willing pupil to each. Pepsi president Al Steele was certainly no shrinking violet himself; nor were long-time lovers Clark Gable and Greg Bautzer, both known for their dominant personalities. For real psychological insight into the woman, one does better to turn to Alexander Walker's "The Ultimate Star." Here's Walker's more insightful analysis of her androgynous quality, as he discusses Sadie Thompson in "Rain": "[Director Lewis Milestone] reveals the male will that inhabits Sadie's assertively female body. This is precisely the conjunction that fascinates many of Crawford's admirers today, even those who do not find her sexually attractive. She is a woman with power over men -- and part of that power is the disconcerting discovery a male makes that the power is of the same gender as himself. It proved too unexpected a change, too raw a demonstration, for Crawford's fans to accept in 1932."

Despite Cowie's occasionally simplistic overview of Joan and her career, and the infrequent error, his text is, however, for the most part competent and well-researched. Mid-level and hard-core Joan fans won't learn anything new from the text, but for beginning fans, it is a helpful, clear, and detailed introduction.

Another strength of the Cowie book lies in its professionalism. The publisher, Rizzoli, is known for quality coffee-table books, and this Joan-book lies in the company tradition, a welcome relief from the recent spate of amateur contributions to the "Joan canon." (The recent David Bret bio was a rehash of former biographies combined with filler plot details and goofy asides; the Charlotte Chandler book was, despite including author interviews with Joan, rather sloppily patched together, also padded with unnecessary plot recounting; the "Letters" book by Michelle Vogel was amateurishly organized, filled with factual and grammatical errors, and accompanied by illegally-reproduced photos on poor-quality paper.)"The Enduring Star," on the other hand, is thankfully all-pro, with its glossy pages and its adherence to publishing conventions: It's been properly edited and copy-edited, with actual photo credits, source notes, and a complete Filmography that clears up one mystery about some of Joan's early films. The inclusion of the complete text of director George Cukor's insightful posthumous 1977 eulogy as an Afterword, which I'd previously only read snippets of, is also a welcome addition to in-print Joan information.

"The Enduring Star" is a high-quality contribution to Joan's legacy. I recommend it for staunch fans, neophytes, and Classic Hollywood photography connoisseurs alike. A glamorous tribute in recognition of a face, and of a woman and actress, that both embodies and transcends her era.

5-0 out of 5 stars Joan Restored
Even without having read the book yet (it arrived yesterday--a day BEFORE the release date?) but just from perusing the photos I can guarantee that every Crawford fan NEEDS this one. It's a big, coffee-table book, not another of those mediocre biographies that keep flooding the bookshelves every Christmas.

There is biographical text but it's rather minimal. The focus of the book is really the beautiful photography, concentrating on the EARLY part of Joan's career, the forgotten part for most people. I think those who can only see Joan as "Mommie Dearest" really need to look at these images--for not only is Joan beautiful in them in a way that they probably never dreamed, but her beauty is soulful and humanizing--NOT the face of a caricature or an iron-willed automaton.

It's impossible to look at these pictures without recognizing a woman who must have been many things to many people--especially in the candid photos such as one early shot of Joan and Roman Navarro jokingly dancing together in between takes of "Across to Singapore". Joan is young and vibrant, laughing with her arm around Navarro as they attempt to get in synch--and in one click of a shutter her sense of humor and playfulness are revealed. I think Joan--because of her later characterizations, those gorgeous but glacial Hurrell images, and gossip, has developed an undeserved reputation as having been rather humorless, domineering and bossy. But so many of these photographs show a soft side, a fragile side, a funny and earthy side--all contributing to a new epiphany that she must have been--at least during the era focused on in this book--a rather lovely human being.

Her strength and determination shine through too, of course, and many of these photos I have never seen. Others I have seen on the internet, and was glad to have them now in high resolution as they are beautiful--I can now throw out my cheap print-outs! Rizzoli is a fantastic publisher and have done an exceptional job assembling the book. I think it will go far toward restoring Joan's personal and professional legacies, both much deserved and long overdue. ... Read more

6. Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, a Personal Biography [NOT THE GIRL NEXT DOOR]
by Charlotte(Author) Chandler
Hardcover: 336 Pages (2008-02-28)
-- used & new: US$13.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1847372082
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Important Crawford Book
This bio of Joan Crawford could almost be labeled an "auto-biography" since it has so many of her own words in it.The author, that lucky gal, had interviewed Crawford on many an occasion and much of this book is in Crawford's own words.Also interviews were done with people who were close to Joan, and their personal, revealing and sometimes lengthy accounts are published here. It isn't an anti-Crawford book and, after all the hype about "Mommie Dearest", it is enthralling to read Joan's side of the Christina issue.Here we find a different take on the things we thought we knew about the mega star.Why Joan left MGM; how long she really subbed for Christina on "The Secret Storm"; the feud between her and Bette Davis, and other issues that were written about her that sounded like she was unglued are seen in a different light.

If you don't read the book, you won't know Crawford.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best wishes & all my love, Joan Crawford...
Why is this biography so flawless? Simple answer: The MTV Generation is learning about a New & Exciting Star!

This is an immaculate book about a perfect actress; after all, Miss Crawford wouldn't have it any other way! Joan was always such a fascinating and beautiful star who was always very kind, compassionate and generous to a fault. No Star shined brighter than her! And that is what this book is all about, a celebration of this legend's life! By the way, the book also includes lots of great pictures of Joan! Some of them I've never seen before. I especially like the picture chosen for the cover; this is a great shot of Joan from 1934 when she was at her most photogenic!

Like millions and millions of people, I am a die-hard Joan Crawford fan and have read countless books about this intriguing, accomplished, brilliant and gorgeous legend. "Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, a Personal Biography" is the very best! Forget about everything that has been written about Joan, this is the most accurate publication, ever! Miss Crawford's true life story is finally getting told, for the very first time! Even from beyond the grave (may she rest in peace) Miss Crawford gets the last laugh.

Ms. Chandler went out of her way to include many extensive interviews with some of the people who knew Joan the best. Some of the most interesting were with Joan's friend and longtime secretary Betty Barker and longtime publicist John Springer who both rarely ever gave interviews on Joan and generously shared many new facts about her. Ms. Chandler also conducted many interviews with Joan's colleagues and movie peers. My very favorite interview was with Ms. Bette Davis who perhaps surprisingly only wanted to defend Joan's good name, "I was not Miss Crawford's biggest fan, but wiesecracks to the contrary, I did and still do respect her talent." Bette Davis continued on, saying how she felt sorry for the way Joan was stigmatized, "but I knew she wouldn't appreciate my pity because that's the last thing she would have wanted -anyone to feel sorry for her." And can I just say that I have a totally newfound respect and admiration for Ms. Bette Davis. (Prior to reading this book, I knew very little about Ms. Davis.) It would have been so easy for her to join the proverbial bandwagon, otherwise known as the "I hate Joan Crawford fan club." But this fine lady showed both class and compassion towards one of her contemporaries at an otherwise time when few others extended that same courtesy to Joan. And, had the tables been turned, Joan being the true professional and talent that she always was, would have done exactly the same thing for Bette Davis.

Besides detailing Joan's long and very descriptive professional career, Ms. Chandler also discusses Joan's personal life, as well. I learned so many new facts about Joan. I found out that for many, many years Miss Crawford paid for the medical care for many of the studios laborers who otherwise could never afford to get sick, let alone be hospitalized! Joan did this purely out of the goodness of her heart and never wanted anyone to know about her generosity. Her old friend and movie director George Cukor said about this, "Joan was always resolute, determined that the few people who knew should never tell anyone." I also learned how Joan fought nonstop for such important organizations and charities as: The United Service Organizations (USO,) The Muscular Dystrophy Association, The American Cancer Society and Easter Seals. If Joan hadn't passed on before her time, I'm sure that just like Liz Taylor or Madonna or Barbra Streisand, Joan would have been one of the first proponents for Aids causes. Because "Not the Girl Next Door" also taught me that Joan's main goal in life was to give back to others; Joan always gave the most to those who had the very least.

In her detailed and tireless writings, Ms. Chandler describes most of Joan's pictures in such great detail. Often, when this is done in a book-format it could be rather dry and almost boring to read. But Ms. Chandler chose her words carefully and really made them pop! The synopsizes for Joan's movies weren't too long or too short. They were just right! And, for someone like myself, who is a true fan (I own every single movie with Miss Crawford,) this is a godsend because I'm very fascinated with Joan's incredibly long picture resume. Ms. Chandler also taught me a lot! For example, I never knew that Joan's character in Lon Chaney's classic picture (The Unknown) was known by more than one name. Most viewers (including myself,) knew her as Nanon Zanzi, but according to the author's incredibly tireless book, Joan's character was also known as Estrellita in some versions of this movie!

The other day I went to visit a very dear friend of mine who has been a life-long Joan Crawford fan. And he shared with me many lovely videos of Joan from her last years. I saw Joan doing charity work, Joan at the Jerry Lewis Telethons and I also saw Joan's final public appearance at the "Legendary Ladies Event" in honor of Rosalind Russell. She looked beautiful and was so kindly. Even though the event was in honor of Rosalind Russell, everyone, including the host could not stop talking about Miss Crawford! And, I also saw a very thoughtful video at Joan's funeral which was broadcast on a local NY cable channel. There were many mourners and one lady in particular said how Joan tirelessly wrote to her for more than 20 years. Watching all of this reminded me just how sweet and generous Joan always was, to everyone during her lifetime. My friend, who knows more about Joan than anyone I have ever met, also shared with me that Joan was the type of person who could make everyone love her. If you didn't like her before you met her, you fell in love with her afterwards because she was such an enigmatic phenomenon who sincerely cared about others. And, that person, the phenomenon, is exactly who is written about in, "Not the Girl Next Door."

Besides telling Joan's accurate story, "Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, a Personal Biography" accomplishes something else that is very special and exciting! It truly shows another way of perceiving (and receiving) information in the 21st Century! Because, instead of being force-fed the same old garbage in that antiquated and obsolescent way of deciphering information (id est, if the MSM reports it then it must be true) the readers are given the opportunity to (critically) think for themselves! "Not The Girl Next Door" is really the difference between our parents and us. Because, this book wasn't written for the older generation who already has their preconceived beliefs etched in non-erasable ink; this is a gift for Joan's new fans who are open-minded enough to search out the real truth!

It goes without saying that Ms. Charlotte Chandler included many extremely extensive, never-before-published interviews with Joan. The author was able to give Joan life because her spirit and persona came beaming through loud and clear! I really felt like Joan was speaking from beyond the grave. One of my very favorite quotes with Joan, "I hate wars, but I always love the brave young men who go to fight, risking and sometimes giving all they have to our country, and I wanted to do anything I could." Aren't those such beautiful words! Another one of my favorite quotes from Joan is towards the end, on page 287: My fans write to "Dear Miss Crawford" or "Dear Joan." These are wonderful words... My only name, as long as I live and as long as my movies live, is Joan Crawford. ...Do you know what I would put on my tombstone? "I care what my fans think of me -now and forever."

The end of the book includes Joan's Filmagraphy which I enjoyed reading. I just wanted to make a few notes; in case you're a fan who is in search of all of Joan's film & TV appearances you will appreciate this. ...This book lists most of Joan's feature films and lists one of her short subjects (Joan actually appeared in a total of 5 shorts, which technically are not considered "movies" or "films." Besides "Miss M-G-M" these include: "MGM Studio Tour," "Hollywood Snapshots #11," The Slippery Pearls aka The Stolen Jools and "Screen Snapshots.") The list also did not include 4 silents that Joan made in '25 (all of which she was unbilled in:) "A Slave of Fashion," "The Merry Widow," "The Midshipman" and "The Only Thing") (note: these were all bit parts for Joan.) And this list did not mention Joan's '29 feature film, "Tide of Empire" (perhaps because Joan left the project before its completion, and this was released with another actress in Joan's original part,) nor was Joan's '30 feature "talkie" "Great Day" listed (however Ms. Chandler did discuss this movie throughout the book, mentioning that it was canceled soon after Joan began filming it.) One thing I was glad to see on Joan's Filmagraphy was her '25 film "The Circle." I don't know why, but for some reason this movie rarely shows up on any of Joan's film resumes, even though this was a staring role for Joan! Towards the end of Joan's Filmagraphy, the author chose not to included "Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte." As you know this was a film that Joan left before its completion, however the final cut does include a brief clip of Joan in her original role as Miriam Deering (there is a long shot in the beginning of the movie, when Miriam gets out of the taxi upon her arrival at the Hollis plantation, that actually shows the back of Joan Crawford's head.) ...The original title of Joan's '64 project was "Royal Bay," not "Della." And, this was never actually a "TV movie" it was instead a pilot for a television program. In the late 80's, this was released onto home-video with the new title (which is roughly the more popular title,) "Fatal Confident" and in '97 it was re-released by a new distributor under the new title "Della." And, Joan's TV Appearances are mostly complete. Except these last few are missing: "Hollywood Palace" (2-7-70,) "The Name of the Game" (1-15-71,) "Journey to Murder" (1-30-71,) and "Beyond the Water's Edge" (4-27-72.) Joan's final TV appearance on WNEY from 1975 also is not mentioned as part of her Filmagraphy, nor is Joan's '68 guest staring role on "The Lucy Show" listed, either. But in fairness to the author, neither appearance could be described as a "dramatic role."

Please always remember, that there has never been a more Artistic or a more Brilliant Businesswoman, or a more Philanthropic Movie Actress, than the One & Only, World-Famous Joan Crawford. "She was a fine woman. She had two fine careers; one as an actress and one as a businesswoman and she never lost control," those are the words of Mrs. Jordan (who sadly passed on, last year,) speaking about her mother. Like Ms. Barbara Mandrell said in her hit, "I was country before country was cool," as far as Joan is concerned, she was an actress before anyone knew what being cool or being popular meant! Anyone who wants to learn about this electrifying thespian should run out and get this book.
... Read more

7. Joan Crawford: Her Life in Letters
by Michelle Vogel
Paperback: 228 Pages (2005-05-10)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1933265469
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
From published author, Michelle Vogel, comes Joan Crawford: Her Life in Letters. The letters derive from Ms. Crawford's meticulous attention to her fan base. She encouraged letters from her adoring fans and made the uncanny effort to answer them. What emerges is a chronological biography of filmdom's ultimate movie star. Additionally, the body of work by Ms. Vogel incorporates the letters along with explanatory narrative weaving together the events of a fabulous life and career. And that's not all! Cathy Crawford LaLonde, the sole executor of the Crawford estate, has transmitted written permission to the author for the exclusive rights to publish her mother's words in Joan Crawford: Her Life in Letters. Here then is the first "authorized" biography since Mommie Dearest. In reading the letters, with their introspective quality, the reader discovers the unique personality of Joan Crawford which contrasts significantly from the portrait presented in Mommie Dearest. Biography aficionados will eagerly embrace the penetrating in depth aspects into the life of a twentieth century icon. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (76)

5-0 out of 5 stars A real "portrait of Joan"
More than 30 years after the publication of "Mommie Dearest," the reputation of Joan Crawford seems permanently tarnished by her adopted daughter's memoir. Michelle Vogel, who compiled this little book, is one of a few people who have set out to challenge the status quo. The Crawford correspondence contained here goes from the 1920s to the 1970s, showing us an intelligent, caring, and thoughtful woman quite unlike the caricature that Christina helped create. As Joan's grandson Casey says in the introduction, this book "is a true testament to how my grandmother treated others." Read it and prepare to have your assumptions about Joan challenged.

3-0 out of 5 stars Proofreaders Wanted
I have never read a more poorly written book.The letters themselves are fascinating and well written, but good heavens, Ms. Vogel's punctuation will stop you in your tracks.

It is impossible to follow through an entire paragraph without having to backtrack a bit to figure out what the writer is trying to say.

Try this sentence, regarding the stalker of a male TV star:"Her demands were that he leave his wife for her, if he, didn't she vowed his career would fade away."It's kind of like a good band with a lousy drummer.

There are the usual errors, too, such as referring to one person as "they," and to that one person's qualities as "theirs."There is "she's" for "she has."

As for apostrophes, I could faint.Ms. Vogel's rule seems to be, "If it ends in an 's,' put an apostrophe in front of the 's.'"No exceptions.Butcher's, baker's, candlestick maker's.Oy.

Comically, the author sometimes reports that Crawford received "a" letter from more than one person, making it seem like her high-powered friends got together to write and sign one letter.Maybe George Cukor had the pencil that week.

There are some cute errors, too.The author seems unaware that in a monogram, the first letter of one's last name appears as the second of three letters.When quoting from a letter written during Crawford's marriage to Phillip Terry, she describes the mongrammed stationery as, "JTC - Joan Terry Crawford."If proofreading skills are lacking, can't common sense prevail?

The author does access some interesting first-hand information from Crawford's friends.Even the most devoted Crawfordphile might find a few photos and quotes he hasn't seen before.

This book is essential for us Crawford collectors.However, the mistakes on almost every page ruin the flow of the text.It's like riding a bicycle with a chain that skips.

5-0 out of 5 stars First class read ! A must have for any Joan Crawford fan !
An absolutely fascinating book, which has clearly been thoroughly researched.

What is so different, and sets it apart from other biographies is that it tells of Joan's life from a totally fresh perspective. What better way is there to gain an insight into someone's inner thoughts than through their very own letters.

The way this book has been put together really brings to life a Hollywood legend, with a lot of new material including wonderful candid photo's and even recipes!

Very highly recommended, and a must have for any Joan Crawford fan!

4-0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
Everything Joan said was gold! Loved it!!
It was interesting how professional and business like joan was even with lovers and close friends.
I especially loved how joan would let certain people have it while still giving off the impression of being sweet and professional.
I loved how joan would restate each question or statement someone had made in their letters...and offer her own answer or rebutal.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great Letters, Great Pictures, Frivilous Commentary
I must give this book kudos for its wonderful use of some of Joan Crawford's publicity pictures. Although the photos used were exclusively in black and white, a lot of them displayed Joan in the glamorous depictions we've become acustomed to seeing her in. I also loved the personal insight the various letters gave us a glimps of. Joan was obviously one who cherished her fans.

That said I have to also mention how unprofessional the added commentary was on both the author's part as well as the "contribution" of Joan Crawford's grandson. When reading his portion of the book you get the impression that he knew the star so very well and was a reliable credit source to what the "real" Joan Crawford was like. The only problem is that Joan's grandson, the son of Joan's adopted daughter Cathy, was only five years old when Joan passed away. In the same book entry he mentions how he hardly knows his uncle Christopher (another of Joan's adopted children) as the last time he saw his uncle was when he was five years old. The same age he was when Joan died! Reliable source? I think not. Similarly the author also takes offense to the previously released Christina Crawford book Mommie Dearest several times. Weither you're in the pro Mommie Dearest camp or not, the simple fact remains that fans were not in the Crawford household to witness the things Christina wrote about in her book. Sadly the author didn't take this into account when writing her own book and instead sided with a family member who wasn't present for any significant moments in Joan's life outside of her death. ... Read more

8. A Portrait of Joan : An Autobiography
by Joan Crawford
Paperback: 176 Pages (1964)

Asin: B001AER0TO
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Editorial Review

Product Description
1964 - Paperback Library - 2nd Printing - Paperback - A Portrait of Joan - By Joan Crawford with Jane Kesner Ardmore - An Autobiography - Rare Edition - VG Condition - Very Collectible ... Read more

9. Just Joan: A Joan Crawford Appreciation
by Donna Marie Nowak
Paperback: 580 Pages (2010-07-04)
list price: US$34.95 -- used & new: US$31.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1593935420
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Illustrated with over 300 photos, many of them rare and never before in print, JUST JOAN is a compilation of over four years of comprehensive research, culled from rare Lincoln Center archives, original magazines and those who knew her.Crawford is examined as a feminist forerunner, a gay icon, a dynamic artist, and as one of the world's great movie stars.The many anecdotes and quotes within JUST JOAN reveal the sassy, indomitable spirit of this actress who grew up in abject poverty with an indifferent family and yet, against unseemly strife and setbacks, rose from the ashes like a phoenix.Her determination, talent and committed work ethic enabled her to find a career and home with what would be one of the most celebrated and powerful studios in film history, MGM.Hers is the moving, complex story of the pursuit and realization of the American Dream, part sublime, part nightmare, self-actuated.With rich detail and devotion, JUST JOAN bears testament to Crawford's enduring enigma and powerful star. "If Joan Crawford was the ultimate star then Donna Nowak is the ultimatefan. She appreciates this complex subject for her skill as an actress, herimportance as a pop culture icon, as well as displaying a fi ne sense ofhumor for Crawford's more lurid notoriety. Nowak has a fervor, devotion,and attention to detail that even the fastidious Crawford would cheer."- Charles Busch"Intelligent, insightful, witty - Donna Nowak's essays and reviews onthe style, work and life of Joan Crawford would have compelled theUltimate Star to officially adopt her as the devoted creative daughter shealways longed for."- Shaun Considine ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

2-0 out of 5 stars An odd duck on the Flamingo Road
This is a Joan Crawford book for only a select few. Chances are you are not one of that group. This is a book that is for those who already own every book on Miss Crawford and simply must have them all. It is not so much a bio as a rather odd collection of essays, reviews and even stranger trivia games, all at a rather pricy price. The author makes no bones about hiding her feelings about Miss Crawford, her co-stars or even other bio's of the star. It's as strange a bio as I have ever read. It read like a collection of college essays, in fact one of the essays is a comparison between Diana Rigg and Miss Crawford. I never could see what the connection was. A strong recurrent theme in the work is what appears to be a rather strong dislike for men. I know that sounds rather odd but trust me its there and it is odd. I would go so far as to say that there is not one nice portrayal of a male in this whole piece. She saves her most dislike for Miss Crawford's last husband Pepsi Cola Chairman Alfred Steele, for reasons she does not do a very good job of explaining. In fact, Miss Crawford's extensive work for Pepsi Cola is given rather short shrift. After rather juvenile reviews of the stars films, we are treated to of all things reviews of nearly every Joan Crawford bio available. With all the great books that have been written about Miss Crawford I find it presumptuous of this author to review other writers work; especially given the exceptionally amateurish work this is. While there are some photos that are interesting, this book is not worth the price of admission. Even though this is a rather extensive piece, it lacks professionalism and probably the service of a good editor. The author interjects FAR too much of her own feelings. To be honest Joan Crawford fans, I cannot recommend this book, especially at the price. Frankly I would have liked my money back. Look for your Joan fix elsewhere.

5-0 out of 5 stars Endearing Reference Book on Joan Crawford
To be honest, I've been disappointed in many of the recent biographies that have come out on the subject of Joan Crawford, either because they praise Joan Crawford to the point that much of what is written is factually incorrect, or it's just plain over the top.Many books attribute quotes to the wrong people, change around the original intent of what was quoted, and they also state that films were hits when they were actual flops and also the opposite. Facts are facts are Facts!

I certainly have no such issue with this extremely endearing reference and appreciation of one of the 20th Century's greatest actresses and most iconic movie stars. For 50 years, Joan Crawford was adored by millions, and no wonder!She not only gave us many fine performances to cherish, she was an actress, star, and personality who truly appreciated her fans, gave generously to many charitable organizations, and was a great friend to many, from cameramen and grips to her lifetime friendships with Myrna Loy, Barbara Stanwyck, Clark Gable, Virginia Grey, and all of her ex husbands.

Donna Marie Nowak wrote a very factual and personal appreciation of how she experiences Joan Crawford.She reviews all available Joan Crawford performances, from beginning to end.Ms. Nowak is fair, positive, and honest.There's also additional essays, and one of them even discusses her appreciation of Joan Crawford AND Diana Rigg. However much I admire and appreciate Diana Rigg, I never really thought of having a discussion on Joan Crawford that would bleed into a discussion on Diana Rigg, but I read it and I get it.As this is a very well written account of how a knowledgable fan experiences and appreciates Miss Crawford, Ms. Nowak makes it all work, and it's a delightful reading experience.

I highly recommend this book to any Joan Crawford fans, or anyone else who wishes to follow the career of one the greatest film icons in history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Just Joan. Just brilliant!
If you're a Joan Crawford fan then this book is a must. A lovingly put together tribute to one of cinemas finest screen talents.This book is the ultimate Joan Crawford reference it includes beutiful, rare photos, film reviews and best of all a series of original, thought provoking and often humourous essays. Order a copy today, you wont be sorry. ... Read more

10. Conversations with Joan Crawford
by Roy Newquist
 Paperback: 186 Pages (1981-08-01)
list price: US$2.50
Isbn: 0425050467
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars FAN-tastic read!
This is a must-read for those who are aching for the golden age of cinema and need to hear the voice of one of it's greatest stars remind us of why stars were once called stars and not mere actors (although a great actress, she indeed was). Joan glows in the pages of this book as she speaks of her affection for Gable, her appreciation of character actors, and her skewering of feminism. What I wouldn't do to own a pair of Miss Crawford's shoes!

5-0 out of 5 stars "Joan Crawford's Story In Her Own Words!"
There have been virtually dozens of books written on Joan Crawford. In the last three years alone at least four books have been released on the greatest actress that ever lived, but all pale into comparison to this beautiful book written by Roy Newquist and published way back in 1980. "Conversations With Joan Crawford" is long out-of-print, but many used copies pop up on Ebay, and there are many still available on Amazon at relatively cheap prices. The book was released in both hardcover and paperback. Newquist was Joan's confidant and friend and she agreed to do interviews with him over a span of fifteen years beginning around the time Joan filmed "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?". Newquist promised Joan that he would release the book after her death. What follows in the pages of "Conversations..." is a splendid lifestory told from the woman who lived it. Joan discusses all of her movies up until "Baby Jane"; she wouldn't discuss her last five films considering "they were all terrible. Even the few I thought might be good. I hope they are withdrawn... I think if I were to see "Trog" advertised on a marquee I would contemplate suicide"; it is that kind of wit and honesty that makes this book such an excellent read. We don't get writers taking apart excerpts in a book and giving their own opinion on the subject; this book is told from the words of Joan's own mouth, and Newquist should be applauded for the work he did on it. Many quotations from the book are still used by internet sites and by other authors; this shows how "Conversations With Joan Crawford" still holds a place today in the Joan Crawford myth and it shows that people are very influenced by Newquist's masterpiece. Joan also goes into detail about her marriages, her family, her children, and her Christian Science beliefs. Without a doubt an excellent book that you will never put down. The hardcover edition is a coffee table book that is filled with pictures on Crawford. Everything you ever wanted to know on Joan is found in these pages. Enjoy!

5-0 out of 5 stars Miss Crawford Speaks from Beyond the Grave!
I feel like I've waited my entire life for this book... I don't know where to start! I am so excited to have found this book. For years, I have been searching for a "real" book about my idol, cinematic legend, Miss Joan Crawford. With the exception of a very few, every book about Joan was always the same: boring-boring-boring.

"Conversations With Joan," by Mr. Roy Newquist is really the very best book ever written about this fascinating and complex star! I absolutely could not put it down! The book is only 175 pages long, yet I felt like (for the first time, ever!) I got a clear and concise picture of Joan. Why is this the best book about Miss Crawford?

"Conversations With Joan" treads new waters as it lays down an original painting on a clean and unused canvas. This book is a collection of extremely intimate, in-depth and never-before-published interviews with Joan. It even includes her very last interviews just a couple of months before she passed on! Roy Newquist was also the only member of the media that Joan ever spoke to after 1974. She only spoke to him because she trusted him and she knew that he was an accomplished and honest writer. "Conversations With Joan" should really have Joan's name listed as one of the authors, because 90% of the text comes straight out of her mouth. The book is very interestingly written and put together, it is more like a long fan-article than a typical hum-drum celebrity (auto)biography. Mr. Newquist wasn't just a journalist who chose to write a book about Joan. Nope. He was a friend of Joan's. "Conversations With Joan Crawford" was actually written over a 15 year time-period; from the time Mr. Newquist first met her, up until right before Miss Crawford's death in 1977!

Joan is asked about and discusses everything! She talks about her childhood, her mother, her brother, her lovers, her father, her various step-fathers and she even answers many questions about her friends, as well. She is candid, funny and always forthcoming! The questions also get tough. Joan is questioned about her alleged alcohol abuse. She discusses her affair with Clark Gable. She discusses all of her divorces, and she even candidly details how it felt to become a widow at such a young age! Joan talks about her failures, too, in total description. We all know that Miss Crawford is a perfectionist. But the Joan in this book is also very vulnerable. She wishes she could change many aspects in both her private and professional lives. If this reviewer didn't know a modicum about Miss Crawford, I would learn that she had a heart an a soul.

The first portion (note: there really aren't clear-cut chapters in this book) of the book includes an informative section that includes commentary from Joan on all of her movies from the 20's up until What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (Two-Disc Special Edition). As you may know, Joan was the epitome of a star during the Golden Era of cinema, and made more than 80 classic pictures. She is rather proud of all her movies, especially her defining role in Mildred Pierce (Keepcase). Miss Crawford is especially delicate as she goes over the movie that garnered her an Academy Award for Best Actress. It almost goes without saying that she has nothing but gratitude for her crew and costars that helped make this movie such a success. Of course she talks about all of her other most well-known movies, such as Flamingo Road (1949), The Damned Don't Cry, Possessed, Humoresque, Harriet Craig, Sudden Fear, "Female on the Beach," Autumn Leaves and Queen Bee. But Joan especially relishes her reign as MGM's box-office queen as she elaborates on such representative films as, Our Dancing Daughters, "Letty Lynton," Grand Hotel (Snap case), Sadie Mckee, Forsaking All Others (1934), I Live My Life, Shining Hour, The Women (Keepcase), Strange Cargo (1940), Susan & God and Woman's Face. And it's also rather comical reading these passages, because the same movies that you or I hate ("The Ice Follies of 1939," Johnny Guitar, and the dreaded, Trog)are the same ones that Joan despised as well. Joan was the type of star who tended to base her opinions on her pictures based on what her fans thought. That may not be right, but that was just the way she was.

Joan discusses the movie business in brass accuracy. She remembers all of her costars and all of the crews that helped make her pictures the classics that they are today. Miss Crawford also gives her blunt opinion on the "New Hollywood." Although, in 2007 this hardly seems "new." I can only imagine what she would have said about today's "stars?" I'm sure she would have said a lot; none of it complimentary. Joan is even asked about Bette Davis, more than once. As I always thought, Miss Crawford didn't have any hatred towards Bette Davis. Of course the 2 were never friends (where is written that 2 actresses have to be friends?,) but she did appreciate Bette Davis' talent and showmanship.

For lack of a better word, this is really such a perfect book. I really do not understand why more fans do not know about it. I suppose, like me, they didn't look hard enough. Maybe good things come to those who wait? The book was first published 27 years ago in 1980, when I was just a baby. Wouldn't it be great if the publisher or author could put it back in print? But alas, that is probably never going to happen. I thought it was absolutely hilarious how Miss Crawford would say something like, "oh I just can't talk about that." Then she would lapse into a 3 page speech on the very topic she was being asked about! No matter what she says, I think Joan loved being a star and she loved putting on a show. Up until the very, very end, she was still always performing for her fans.

Known for her fashion-sense, classical beauty and the ability to constantly re-invent herself (decades before Madonna was a household name,) this book includes some of the most alluring pictures of Miss Crawford throughout her long and impressive film career. The pictures ran throughout the entire book and were often included next to text that was along the same topic. And the back cover even included a lovely shot of Joan, from the mid-thirties. I saw many pictures for the very first time, such as a stunning picture of Joan taken during the late 40's; probably around the time she was making "Daisy Kenyon." I also loved the shot of her taken in the 20's, used as an early MGM publicity photo.

Joan also opens up about her later years in life. Again, please remember that during the 70's she gave very few interviews and completely cut the press off starting in '74. So, this book acts as the first and only accurate picture of Miss Crawford's life during this time. She still sounds optimistic and always incredibly determined during these sections of the book and her life; which run concurrent! Because, maybe Miss Crawford knew that this would be her only chance to "set the record straight?" Through "Conversations With Joan," she did just that by letting her fans have an inside glimpse into her world!

It's very unfortunate that the vast majority of the public think of Joan as a violent monster. If only they read "Conversations With Joan Crawford," they would see for themselves that she was nothing like that (please keep in mind that this book was written over a 15 year time-period, it was not just thrown together at the last minute.) But, if that's what they have to believe to get through the night, more power to 'em. In this crazy world, I don't know what I believe in anymore. Although, I will never lose faith in Miss Crawford. I am certain that she was a first-rate star who worked her a-s-s off to get to where she was, and once she got there she never stopped working!

5-0 out of 5 stars All Crawford fans need a copy
I'm so glad I found out about this book. Fortunately, there are plenty of second hand copies around the world so it wasn't too hard to come by.This book was prepared over a period when Roy Newquist got to know Crawford on a deeper level. She opened up herself almost completely, although would not let him use a tape recorder.So the book is based on his notes during the sessions.What I think readers will enjoy the most are her opinions on all her films.It's interesting to see that she dislikes the films that most of us do, and loves the films we all love.Also worth reading are her thoughts on her early childhood which was clearly a tough and difficult time for the young Lucille Le Seuer. I also enjoyed reading the section on her two oldest children. Although this book pre-dates "Mommie Dearest", it becomes apparent that Crawford had been criticised for her mothering of Christina and Christopher in the late 70's.Her thoughts on her behavious and the two children's behaviour is worth reading. Always advisable to recognise that there are two sides to every story.

This is a fascinating read, perhaps too short, but one thing is clear: all Crawford fans need a copy in their collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
My only disappointment with this book is that it's too short!Very interesting and in Joan's own words.I think a life lesson is here as well from her.You do the best you can with the choices you've made. ... Read more

11. Joan Crawford
by Bob Thomas
 Hardcover: 308 Pages (1979-03-08)

Isbn: 0297776177
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Crawford fan
Bob Thomas biography on Joan Crawford was very insightful as well as very well written. The author unlocks the life of this highly sucesssful yet very misunderstood queen of the screen in a tasteful manner. Any Crawford fan would appreciate that he states facts and not tabloid gossip.Through reading this book I have become an even greater admirer of Miss Crawford. I highly recommend this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars More Beneath Her Shoulder Pads
Reading this book some time ago, I was intrigued by the complexity that was Joan Crawford.

The author details her very disturbing childhood, raised by a tyrant of a mother who whipped her causing bleeding welts across her legs, young "Joan's"(real name Lucille LeSuer) had father had abandoned the family.

Her brother Hal showed no sympathy for her. Her mother's second husband Mr.Henry Cassin was kind to her, but he also left the family.

Sent to a catholic boarding school, St. Agnes,she worked at waiting on tables, because her mother could not afford tuition.

Finishing her curriculum at St Agnes, her mother found her Rockingham Academy, in Kansas, who took her on as a pupil in exchange for her cleaning fourteen rooms of the mansion, scrubbing toilets, bathing the young children and tucking them in bed. She got five hours sleep on average.

Life was hard at the academy as the principal would also beat the child. She tried running away, but was returned and further beaten.

Neither her home nor school allowed escape from beatings, while Joan was schooling, her mother had a new man installed at home and he too would beat Joan mercilessly.

Boys began asking Joan out to dances in her last years at school. She was growing into a beautiful young lady and a great dancer.This
was when she dreamed of becoming a professional dancer.

She auditioned for the chorus of a traveling show and was hired.

Beautiful, talented and very intelligent, Joan's most valuable trait was her determination. Severing a tendon and artery in her foot, she proved her doctor wrong in his prognosis that "she'd never walk again without a limp", Joan was dancing in just a few weeks.

The book outlines her triumphant career where her professionalism and good instincts as an actress led her to notoriety.

Unfortunately she too would abuse the four children she'd adopted, yet be affectionate and overwhelmingly kind to her fans. She adopted a pattern of putting her faith in strangers rather than in her family. She trusted strangers more than family.

It is a rags to riches story. I'm not a fan and I've seen just only of her films and yet found this book interesting, sometimes fascinating and disturbing.

Recommended as a look into a complex, often manic personality.

4-0 out of 5 stars Joan Crawford: Strongly Sculpted
Joan Crawford was, of course, an icon of the American film.Her strongly sculpted face graced 81 movies, and dominated such as "Mildred Pierce," for which she won an Oscar, "Humoresque," "Grand Hotel," and "Daisy Kenyon."She was a worldwide, great, durable star, and it seems highly unlikely that there's anyone out there who doesn't know her compelling eyes and carved cheekbones.

Of course, there's a difference of opinion as to her talent.The great writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, who also wrote scripts, once said, "writing for her is difficult.She can't change her emotions in the middle of a scene without going through a sort of Jekyll and Hyde contortion of the face, so that when one wants to indicate that she is goingfrom joy to sorrow, one must cut away and then cut back.Also, you can never give her such a stage direction as 'telling a lie,' because if you did, she would practically give a representation of Benedict Arnold selling West Point to the British."

Yet Steven Spielberg, the brilliant director who has gone from success to success, said at the beginning of his career in the early 50's," She is five feet four, but she looks six feet on the screen.In a two-shot with anyone, even Gable, your eyes fix on her.She is imperious, yet with a childlike sparkle.She is haughty, yet tender.She has no great range as an actress, yet within the range she can perform better than any of her contemporaries."

It's probably safe to say that most people looking for this book will agree more with Spielberg than Fitzgerald.And they'll already feel they know quite a lot about Joan Crawford, what with "Mommie Dearest," by her adopted daughter Christina showing up regularly on late-night television.But they're still likely to want to know more about the great star's life, stormy offscreen as on, through four marriages and countless lovers.

Any reader can learn quite a lot from this book by Bob Thomas.
He'd interviewed Crawford many times over 30 years, and conducted more than 200 interviews with her costars and acquaintances.In fact, the book's worthy of its subject, strong, with sculptured cheekbones.Quick moving, interesting, informative.He doesn't settle the famous question of whether Crawford really did make a blue movie in her starving starlet days, but who could?He's thorough, sympathetic, fair: the dialogue crackles like a good script.He even agrees, how can he help it, with Christina Crawford, that Mildred Pierce was, in real life, a terrible mother.

Now listen, sorry as you may feel for Christina Crawford, the little girl who had to scrub down mommie's dressing room with Bon Ami in the middle of the night, nobody would ever have bought her book if mommie weren't Joan Crawford.And Joan Crawford's strong work endures.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Long Career, An Unhappy Personal Life.
While riding the bus back to town after enjoying 'Little Miss Sunshine,' a friendly young man named Michael who was knowledgable about old movies wanted to compare his skill with what I'd experienced first hand.We talked about many things from astronomy (physics) to music, and I said I'd always hated the song, "Bette Davis's Eyes."Like Karl who had to be a know-it-all, we disagreed about the actress's eyes.Then I threw him a new debate, I did like her in 'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane' which he thought was horrid, but he didn't like Joan Crawford, Bette's co-star in the suspenseful movie -- her eyes were as bad as the movie, in his opinion.

And so, I remembered this book about the original 'Mommie Dearest' and I wanted to refresh my memory about Joan Crawford's eyes.She wore a lot of false eyelashes.The plot of the movie concerned two reclusive sisters, former movie stars, living amid hatred and recrimination in a Hollywood mansion, a gothic tale and a high-risk venture.Joan C. had always projected a glamor girl image, securing some very rich and famous husbands.Bette, on the other hand, wore very little jewelry, like me.Both were 54 and their personalities clashed.This movie was such a big hit that these two old "broads" (this word is in the book) were cast to appear in 'Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte' about an aging recluse haunted by the ghost of her sweetheart who'd been beheaded by an unknown murderer.Shades of Al Quida in Iran.It was to be filmed in an old mansion in Baton Rouge.Due to the damp and moist climate, Joan made two trips to a hospital to be treated for an upper respiratory infection.She was replaced in the 'picture' because of insurance company demands.Patti Page recorded the title song, one of my favorites of hers.

In 1949, she made a guest appearance in a Doris Day flick; in 1953, she starred in 'Torch Song' with Michael Wilding, a British leading man, the father of Elizabeth Taylor's sons.Joan adopted four children: three girls and one boy, becoming immortalized by the book and movie as 'Mommie Dearest.' a strict, unloving mother.We are all injured to some degree by parental abuse even if it's only neglect (her mother was the discilpinarian), and so some people emulate their tormentors against their own children.

'Our Dancing Daughter', in 1928 made her a star, but it took 'Mildred Pierce' to reward her with an Oscar.She'd starred over the years with Clark Gable, Jeff Chandler, Rossano Brazzi, John Ireland, John Barrymore, William Holden, Neil Neely, and Billie Burke.She had come a long way from being Lucille LaSueur of San Antonia, Texas, later Billie Cassin of Lawton, Oklahoma, to the glamorous example of the perfect flapper (credit: F. Scott Fitzgerald) of Hollywood, California.

Some stars interviewed for this book include Polly Bergen, Clarence Brown, Brad Dillman, Ross Hunter, Myrna Loy, Joseph Cotton, Betty Burness, among others.Bob Thomas had already written biographies of Thalberg, Selznick, Winchell, Walt Disney, Howard Hughes, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.He also wrote 'If I Knew Then' about Debbie Reynolds -- she knew.

3-0 out of 5 stars From Back Cover

Few Hollywood careers have been more fabulous, more scandalous, more dizzying rags-to-riches than that of Joan Crawford, born Lucille Fay LeSueur.

Joan Crawford didn't become a star. She became the Ultimate Star. She was tough, ambitious, gutsy and fiercely competitive. Her energy was inexhaustible; her temper legendary; her four marriages stormy and violent; her love affairs hotly publicized in countless gossip columns. She set out to be the perfect mother and turned her adopted children's lives into a nightmare. Seldom has a life been lived more in the limelight of publicity.

Here, at last, is the real story, the full, extraordinary account of Joan Crawford's life, her films, her marriages, her secrets and her loves in an intimate, unforgettable biography by a famed Hollywood writer. ... Read more

12. Joan Crawford: The Last Word (Thorndike Press Large Print Buckinghams)
by Fred Lawrence Guiles
 Paperback: Pages (1996-01)

Isbn: 0786205326
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (8)

1-0 out of 5 stars Very unpleasant reading
I have just finished reading this book.I was expecting much more with such a pretentious title.''Last Word'' it is really not..
I had read Guiles's Monroe biography many years ago,and it was filled with false information (I have read 15 bios about Marilyn).
To get back to this particular book about Ms. Crawford,sometimes I just could not believe what I was reading.This man sounds as if he was her press-agent trying desperately to defend her honor,mostly regarding Christina's book ''Mommie Dearest''.
Don't get me wrong,I really believe that Joan Crawford was a very interesting actress,fashion icon,and the epitome of the Hollywood Glamour.However it is quite obvious that the role of mother in real-life,was a very wrong and misguided choice.If you read her 2 books ''Portrait of Joan'' and ''My Way of Life'',and you read between the lines,you will easily believe that she was a control-freak and a strict disciplinarian.So to conclude do not purchase this book if you are a die-hard fan of Joan,you will learn nothing.But if you are a new fan,and this is the last book on this planet,well get it,but pay very little !
ps:The pictures are kind of nice..

1-0 out of 5 stars A day late and more than a dollar short.
About the only thing I found credible about this book was his premise - that Joan Crawford would forever be vilified and defined by the book written by adopted daughter Christina.Despite his intention to "rescue" Joan's reputation as a film star, he proceeds to substitute bad parenting for a voracious sexual appetite, including not only women like Marilyn Monroe, but adolescents like Jackie Cooper.He claims she starts early, trolling the parks in Kansas City for young men when she is just a teenager.This sounds like a woman with no borders and no idea of appropriate behavior.Guiles is an experienced, gifted, excellent writer.After reading both "Norma Jean" and the author's biography of Marion Davies, I found it hard to believe that he wrote this, and harder still to believe it could have had an editor since the mispellings were rampant, or an fact-checker since many of the film facts were also wrong.This is perhaps like the letter that you write when a close friend ticks you off.You write it to blow off steam and then throw it away.You never send it.Perhaps someone should have suggested to Mr. Guiles that he should have done that with his manuscript.

3-0 out of 5 stars One sided bio of Joan Crawford
I found this biography on Joan Crawford very interesting. The only things I knew about her came from Mommy Dearest so I wanted to see what else people had to say about her.

Most of it is not knew information. It is pretty much stuff that has been said over in many other books about her.

The only thing that I did not agree with was his bashing of Christina Crawford. It made me mad that he tried to either justify Joan's treatment of her or try to say that Christiana was a liar and the things that she wrote that happened could not or did not happen, when many people witnesses these things happen to Christina and Christopher over and over again

1-0 out of 5 stars A waste of time.
After reading Joan's own books, 'A Portrait of Joan' and 'My Way of Life' this book is just a ho-hum update of recent years and just does not capture Crawford's spirit.

3-0 out of 5 stars So-So Biography of a Fascinating Star
"The Last Word" is actually one of the lesser biographies I've read on actress Joan Crawford, although he does try to rectify some distortions of fact that have plagued Joan Crawford in the wake of adopted daughter Christina's vitriolic book.It's unfortunate that anyone should have to defend her from the imbalanced accusations launched by Christina, because the attention paid to said daughter is equally imbalanced and inappropriate, clouding the rightful place Joan Crawford earned among the greats of Hollywood.Joan Crawford was a remarkable woman who showed much kindness, generosity and loyalty to people and worked hard to earn her place in filmdom, whatever her problems might have been.She was not merely a star, she was a gifted actress with enormous star wattage.She came from a depressed and very difficult childhood herself, yet she rose above it and triumphed again and again during the many setbacks in her long career.Much of her success was due to professionalism and hard work, although talent, charm and good looks aided.At her best, Crawford was chic and beautiful and constantly striving to better herself and please her public; the fact that she strove to present a gracious, glamorous and appreciative self to the public is one of her strengths, not a negative.She actually believed she owed her public and gave them her 200% as she did to many of the little people working in the business (much of these good deeds done without fanfare, not that it would make them any less laudatory if she let them be known).As for her parental skills, who can judge and who would be free of any infractions, if it came to that?There are stars more deserving of brickbats (such as Bing Crosby, Mr. Christmas) in that department and with less to explain their behavior.But most importantly, Joan Crawford's achievements remain remarkable and her film legacy is indelible.Whatever personal mistakes or career misfires Joan Crawford might have made pale in comparison to the ignoble, distasteful way daughter Christina is currently making her living.There's nothing laudatory in professional victimhood nor does the media circus have anything to do with child abuse.

THE LAST WORD, peculiar as that title may be, since it will not be the last word (Crawford continues to generate bios), is a tepid biography at best.Much of the material was covered in other, better biographies and the few original slants the author tries to take on his subject seem, to my mind, off base.He does offer a few things I didn't know and has added a few interviews (such as with one of Christina's former roommates and apparently with people who knew Joan).Unfortunately, though, he makes some glaring errors when describing Crawford's films.In one film, he named the wrong actor; in another he misconstrued the plot.What would it have taken to actually watch the films or fact check if you are going to write about a subject?Such sloppiness does not inspire confidence in his integrity as a biographer, although one can see he made a fair effort at assembling information and gaining access to sources.

It's not bad and a nice effort, but not one of the better biographies I've read on the star.Good photos, though, which alone make the book worthwhile purchasing.

... Read more

13. Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, A Personal Biography (Applause Books)
by Charlotte Chandler
Paperback: 336 Pages (2009-04-15)
list price: US$16.99 -- used & new: US$3.51
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1557837511
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Joan Crawford (1908-1977) was best known for her starring roles in The Women, Grand Hotel, Mildred Pierce, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress, Johnny Guitar, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Charlotte Chandler's fascinating and intimate portrait includes interviews with Crawford; her first husband, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.; Bette Davis; and Myrna Loy, and is perhaps her finest biography yet. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

4-0 out of 5 stars Gives a Very Nice Overview of Joan Crawford--the Woman
There are biographies of Joan Crawford that do an excellent job of detailing the minutia of her fabulous film performances. This book clearly is not intended to do that. It gives, rather, an interesting and sympathetic look at Joan Crawford as a person as well as a movie star. There are some minor typographic or little annoying errors in the film recaps that accompany the storyline carrying the reader through Joan's movies in context with what was going on in her life at that time, but it's not enough to distract from the book itself. If this book does anything to help recant the malicious allegations in Joan's daughter's malicious 'biography' of her mother--it will have done its job; personally I would like to see more books like this that give the reader an insight into the personality of the star and their persona on and off-camera. This is a good read for the movie fan, and if you are interested in Joan Crawford, definitely worth a look.

5-0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed it - and Christina is a liar
I've always thought that Christina Crawford was a liar who was jealous of her mother.This book convinced me.Christina has never accomplished anything in her entire life and her brother Christopher sounded like a real bad seed.I'm glad Joan left them nothing.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.Told me a lot I didn't know about this great lady of the silver screen.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not the Book Next Door
While this book is interesting to Joan Crawford fans,for those of us who value
accuracy this is not the book. This author saidfriendship with Miss
Crawford,was the reason for the book,however, there are many, many things
that are flat out untrue. I enjoyed this, but I wish I had gone to the Public Library rather than buying it.

1-0 out of 5 stars Ravings of an obsessed fan.
Not a nice nor balanced individual no matter how many ways you sugar coat it. What baffles me is that with just 1 or 2 exceptions, Joan Crawford was not a particularly good actress. She had expressions No. 1 through 10. In the 1930's she was lovely but after MGM she began to look "tough", which I'm sure she was. If you want to read a movie biography with substance and without deification , I suggest "Love is Nothing" by Lee Server or "Marlene" by Maria Riva.

5-0 out of 5 stars A 5-Star Joan Crawford Experience

Charlotte Chandler, whose writing is positively magic, has given us in this compelling new personal biography, "Not the Girl Next Door", something far beyond very important new information on this complex Oscar winning star.She has given us an actual "personal experience" of Joan Crawford herself.

Often times there is far more to be learned from how individuals "see themselves", and also "want to be seen", than from only the cold hard facts of their lives.If all you want to know about Joan Crawford is dates, people, and "hearsay" gossip, then looking her up in an encyclopedia of film history and reading all the slander that was written specifically to hurt her and to damage her reputation will suffice.However, if what you want is the extraordinary opportunity of sitting and listening to Joan Crawford tell you about her life, as it personally impacted her, then ""Not the Girl Next Door" is absolutely the book for you!

Perfectly set with carefully observed background description, and skillfully crafted from first-hand personal interviews with Ms Chandler, this book reads with the reality of a face-to-face encounter with Joan Crawford and those who knew her well.And because the author, mercifully, has NOT burdened her audience with endless speculative and psychological analyses of the star, readers themselves are closely drawn into active participation with the narrative and can come to their own conclusions, based upon their own understanding of Joan Crawford as she and her contemporaries speak directly to them.

Joan Crawford, whose devotion to her fans is legendary, was the quintessential "Movie Star".No one has ever worked harder to perfect her talents and her physical self, or to please her studio and moviegoers.At its core, "Not the Girl Next Door" refocuses our attention on Crawford's justly earned film career fame along with her many often unmentioned kindnesses to others, while at the same time balancing these accomplishments with the fears, insecurities, and childhood demons that we begin to perceive she always had to struggle against.Having read other books on and interviews of Miss Crawford I believe that she has revealed herself, in these largely "end of life" sessions with Ms. Chandler, in a way that we have never seen her before.

Also, importantly, in a stroke of sheer creative genius, Ms Chandler has set her own ego aside, and almost never reveals herself as "present" in the rooms where she sat and so carefully listened to those who told her their stories.It is, in fact, as if she has graciously gotten up and given her seat to her readers, and stepped out of the way so that they alone may be spoken to.In addition to what you will learn, it is the mystery of Ms Chandler's skill as a listener, and the magic of her writing as an author, that will leave you unable to put this book down.

My suggestion to you is to sit in a comfortable chair, turn out all the lights save the one you are reading with, pick up your copy of "Not the Girl Next Door" and listen quietly as Joan Crawford personally tells you her story.Thanks to the keenly perceptive talent of Charlotte Chandler, I guarantee that you will not be disappointed!!
... Read more

14. A portrait of Joan;: The autobiography of Joan Crawford,
by Joan Crawford, Jane Kesner Ardmore
 Hardcover: 239 Pages (1962)
-- used & new: US$120.81
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0007DLLIK
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Typical Hollywood autobiography of the 60's
I understand that this book is rare,and rare to find.
It does belong in any serious collection of Joan Crawford.
However the book is evasive and it is only with a very good eye that you will be capable of reading between the lines.Miss Crawford offers a 'glossed-over' look at her life and achievements.Not much 'dirt' in there.
If you are looking for vintage reading from Joan,you would be better served with her second book from 1971:''My Way of Life'',which gives you a much better if campy look at what it was like to BE Joan Crawford.
Conclusion:Get this book if you are serious collector.If you really want to know what made Ms. Crawford tick,get her second,much more interesting,book. ... Read more

15. Crawford: The last years : an intimate memoir
by Carl Johnes
 Paperback: 172 Pages (1979)
-- used & new: US$18.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0440115361
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Crawford's Memoir by a personal friend who worked for Columbia Pictures ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars Sometimes we tend to create our own scripts, don't we?
Recently, I acquired a set of audio recordings that Joan did during the last few years of her life. Being a huge fan I was very excited to listen to these as many fans know that there is little-to-zippo of anything Joan did after 1974. Included on one of the CDs was a series of answering machine messages to Mr. Carl Johnes. First of all, who in the world even knew that they had answering machines in the 1970's? Anyway, the messages Joan left all sounded lovely and even though these were private messages I could hear a sense of beauty and even macabre that always resonated in her voice. (If I can find a way to put them online I would be more than glad to because I would hate for some cheat to find a way to make money off of these by selling them to fans.) So from there I got to wondering who Carl Johnes was since Joan apparently was so affectionate with him. And that's when I found this book.

When the book arrived I was slightly let down as it's a no-frills book that's very short (you'll finish it in a couple of sittings at the most) and includes not a single exclusive picture of Joan. But what I did enjoy about the book is the fact that it detailed Joan's last years (from 1972 to 1977) because this is the first and only book (besides Conversations with Joan) that includes such intimate details about Joan, written by someone who actually knew her personally; who was not just an acquaintance, but a bona fide friend.

There are a few misnomers about the author that have gotten muddled throughout the book's own description (that spilled over onto Amazon) which I would like to clear up. First of all, Carl Johnes never knew Joan when she worked for Columbia. In fact, he was neither a producer, a director or anyone connected to the profession of film-making. Mr. Johnes was very sketchy about what he did for Columbia, but if you read between the lines you can tell (he was an assistant.) When he knew Joan he was a youngish gentelman in his '30s (and Joan was in her late '60s to early '70s.) And Mr. Johnes also never "worked with Joan" on some big project. Nope. He first went to meet Joan to help her rearrange her book collection. So once we clear up these sneaky deceptions the book gets a little less titillating.

There are several aspects of the book that I did enjoy because Mr. Johnes presented a unique and otherwise rather unseen view of Joan. I learned that although Joan never had a problem drinking she gave up drinking completely during the last several years of her life. I learned that Joan was always rather shy (this I almost figured.) I also learned about her love for animals and her appreciation for backgammon. And lots of things that I already knew were confirmed. For example her kindness and her willingness to help others and her love of letter-writing. I also learned that Joan had a great sense of humor and was not above laughing at herself, if only to entertain and bring a smile to other people's faces.

The author also took us into Joan's own world while giving the readers a special view behind the curtains. The view isn't always clear and it's not always comprehensive (for example, why was Carl Johnes writing Joan's public announcements? I know for a fact that she had a press agent and at least 2 full-time secretaries until the day she passed away.) The author also writes about how he was Joan's personal guest at her last major public appearance in 1974.

The author's writing was somewhat amateurish and written with an air of pretension which made the book read like a rather dated and boring magazine article. For example he kept trying to ingratiate himself into Joan's life and experiences and even her movie plots. None of this had to do with him and frankly his own story minus Joan was about as interesting as a paper bag from Bamberger's.

I also got the impression that the author felt like Joan owed him something. As if she needed to entertain him. For example, Mr. Johnes writes about Joan meeting his brother and sister-in-law and about how nervous she was. Yet Joan got all dressed up and went out of her way for her guests. But all the author could do was put her down in this instance. He only saw the wrongs that she did. As far as I'm concerned if Mr. Johnes was truly Joan's friend he would have recognized her nervousness and he would have told her that she was just great no matter what she did or didn't do. Because all Joan wanted was reassurance, just to be told that she was special. Maybe that is egotistical of her. But she's in good company, at least. Because what lady doesn't want to be told that she is special once in a while?

The one thing that really needs to be stressed is that Joan was not a lonely victim living alone in seclusion during her last years. Perhaps the author wanted us to believe that though because it made his own story that much more universal and even profitable. But even by his own admission Joan was surrounded by many friends, who loved her very much. And she was not a young woman, she was a senior citizen who spent the prior 6 decades working (harder than anyone else in show-business). So what was wrong about her wanting to retire in her golden years?

And there is nothing wrong with writing a book about a friend. I don't think Joan would have condemned Carl Johnes for that. However he did not write the book "as a friend" yet he used the moniker or guise of friendship to get his book published which I don't think is very loyal. Because in some respect the author seems to contradict himself about Joan. He could be complimentary towards her and then all of a sudden turn on Joan because he would write about how "bossy" or how "ambitious" she was. Did he really know that? Did he really know Joan? I mean, do any of us really know anyone? How did he know what was going on in her head during her last years in this world? Just because she was Joan Crawford does not give the author or anyone else for that matter the chance to sit in judgement of her.

If you're a Joan Crawford fan then I know there is no way that I can dissuade you from getting this book, but if you really want to learn about Joan take it from someone who has spent the last 10 years studying her, watch all of her movies. If you watch her movies and study them (and watch all of them, not just a few) you will learn that Joan was not just the hardest working woman in all of cinema history, but also the loyalest and kindest and most loving. Remember, you are what you watch.

3-0 out of 5 stars Crawford and Cocktails?
Speaking as a fan: This is an interesting little quick read. It covers a narrow section of time during Joan Crawfords last years. The writers perspective revolves around him being sent by Columbia Studios to help Crawford on a variety of projects at her Manhattan home and then being asked back for endless evenings of backgammon and cocktails. The writer gives us his opinion on Crawford during the early to mid 1970's and not always entirly flattering. Its a mixed bag and be warned that the only photos are on the cover. If you come across a cheap copy, get it; if its a fortune, skip. ... Read more

16. Films of Joan Crawford (Film Books)
by Lawrence J. Quirk
 Hardcover: 222 Pages (1970-10)
list price: US$7.95 -- used & new: US$265.84
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0806503416
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17. Joan Crawford (Legends)
by Anna Raeburn
 Paperback: 109 Pages (1988-09-01)
list price: US$14.45
Isbn: 0316500550
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18. Joan Crawford
by Stephen Harvey
 Paperback: 159 Pages (1974)

Isbn: 0515034177
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Just the Facts (and the Films), Ma'am...
This book is one of many in the Pyramid series on movie stars that came out in the 1970's. This was one of the better entries in the series and honestly, would be a small treasure to any fan of Joan Crawford movies.

The book (published in 1974, around the time Joan was beginning to retreat from view but was still making public appearances), the book does NOT delve into the personal. This is a detailed account of the ACTRESS, and her FILMS. That said, those who are salivating for sensationalized juice about Joan sleeping with Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner or Rock Hudson...feuding with Bette Davis...or beating the crap out of her daughter will NOT enjoy this book.

What the book DOES provide is a rich overview of Joan Crawford's career, dicussing her films, circumstances surrounding filming, and critiques of each film and Joan's performance therein. It's tidy, well-researched, nicely illustrated (for a compact book), and a good companion piece to Lawrence Quirk's THE FILMS OF JOAN CRAWFORD. ... Read more

19. The Complete Films of Joan Crawford
by Lawrence J. Quirk
 Paperback: 224 Pages (1988-05)
list price: US$14.95
Isbn: 0806510781
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20. Joan Crawford: The Lifestyle of a Star
by Alexander Walker
 Hardcover: 192 Pages (1983-06-23)

Isbn: 0297782169
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