Rising from a very troubled past as a result of the experiences she had with her stepfather who abused her as well as the poverty she experienced as a child, Joan Crawford rose to become one of the biggest names in the Golden Age of Hollywood. While she was a star on the silver screen and loved by many, her personal life was not so much of bliss as she was described to have had rather erratic behavior. Although her daughter would later describe her as a sadistic parent, that assertion would be rejected by almost all those close to the actress.
Life of Joan Crawford
While it was as Joan Crawford that she came to make her name, she was born Lucille Fay LeSueur on March 23 either 1904 or 1905. To Thomas E. LeSueur and Anna Bell Johnson. Of English, Swedish, Irish, and French descent she had two older siblings.
When Joan was only a few months old, her father walked out on the family and so her mother would go on to marry Henry J. Cassin. Although for a significant part of her childhood she believed Cassin was her biological father, he continued to abuse her from the time she was 11 until she got to St. Agnes Academy, a Catholic girls’ school.
The second marriage of her mother would later end, but its negative effect did not allow Joan to go far with her education. At first, she wanted to become a dancer but after she had an injury to her leg for which she underwent multiple surgeries, she decided to call it quits and become a Broadway performer and an actress.
Joan Crawford is often regarded as one of the greatest actresses to have graced the silver screen. She enjoyed a career that began in 1925 and lasted until 1975. She appeared in everything from silent films in the 1920s and later sound films, as well as Broadway and TV appearances.
Having appeared in more than a hundred productions, some of her most popular movies are Lady of the Night (1925) which was her debut movie, Untamed (1929) which became her first sound film, and others like the 1945 film Mildred Pierce which earned her an Academy Award for best actress, Sudden Fear (1952), and Torch Song (1954).
For her talent, she has many awards to show including the Golden Globe Award BAFTA Film Award, and Laurel Award among others.
Spouse and Children
Apart from one of the best actresses, Joan was also one of the most beautiful. Between 1929 when she got married for the first time and 1959 when her last marriage came to a tragic end, the actress was married four times. Her first husband was the American actor and producer Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. whom she was married to until 1933.
The next man to become her spouse was yet another actor Franchot Tone in 1935. Just like the first, the marriage lasted for four years before ending in 1939. After this, Joan walked down the aisle again in 1942 to Phillip Terry who was also an actor but it came to an end in 1946. Her last marriage, like all others, also lasted for 4 years from 1955 to 1959 when her then-husband Alfred Steele died.
All through her marriages, Joan Crawford has never had any child of her own. However, she adopted four children; Christina and Christopher Crawford, as well as the twins Cathy and Cindy Crawford. Even though to the wider world, Christina Crawford was probably lucky to be mothered by one of the greatest actresses, she revealed that it was a nightmare.
Also an actress, Christina revealed that Joan Crawford was an alcoholic and was very abusive to her adopted children. Christina documented her experience in her autobiography, Mommie Dearest which later became a movie. Because of the work, the legendary actress would always be referred to more as a deranged mother than a great actress that she was.
However, there were many that came to the defense of Joan including her former husband Douglas Fairbank and the other adopted children of Joan who described her as the best mother ever.
Death of Joan Crawford
Joan fell to heart attack on May 10, 1977, at the age of 72 in New York. Not long before her death she cut off her two older adopted children, Christina, and Christopher from her will, but they would go on to challenge the will. She left much of what she had for her younger kids and for different charities.