Joan Crawford Biography

Joan Crawford was an American film and television actress counted amongst the greatest female stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema. This biography of Joan Crawford provides detailed information about her childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Joan Crawford
Quick Facts

Birthday: March 23, 1905

Nationality: American

Famous: Bisexual Actresses

Died At Age: 72

Sun Sign: Aries

Also Known As: Lucille Fay LeSueur

Born in: San Antonio

Famous as: Actress

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Alfred Steele (m. 1955–1959), Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (m. 1929–1933), Franchot Tone (m. 1935–1939), Phillip Terry (m. 1942–1946)

father: Thomas E. LeSueur

mother: Anna Bell Johnson

siblings: Daisy, Hal LeSueur, Thomas LeSueur

children: Cathy Crawford, Christina Crawford, Christopher Crawford, Cynthia Crawford

Died on: May 10, 1977

place of death: New York City

City: San Antonio, Texas

U.S. State: Texas

More Facts

education: St. Agnes Academy, Stephens College

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Joan Crawford was an American film and television actress counted amongst the greatest female stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema. One of the topmost actresses of the 1930s, she is best remembered for her films ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’ and ‘Mildred Pierce,’ for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. She was especially popular among the women as she often portrayed hard-working middle-class women onscreen which resonated with her female audience who were struggling in the Depression era. One of the highest paid actresses of her generation, Crawford had risen to a successful life from humble beginnings. Raised in a dysfunctional family, her early life was quite chaotic. She could not even focus on her formal education owing to her family problems. Ambitious from a young age, she moved past her difficult childhood to her career as a dancer in travelling theatrical companies. Beautiful talented, and confident, she soon made her way to the Broadway and Hollywood beckoned soon after. It did not take her long to establish herself as a much sought-after actress and she proceeded to act in more than five dozen films in a surprisingly long career that spanned over 45 years. Following her retirement, she became increasingly reclusive and died in 1977.

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Joan Crawford
Childhood & Early Life
  • She was born as Lucille Fay LeSueur on 23 March, in San Antonio, Texas, to Thomas E. LeSueur, a laundry laborer, and Anna Bell Johnson. The year of her birth is disputed; she is believed to have been born sometime between 1903 and 1908.
  • Her father abandoned the family either before her birth or soon after. Her mother subsequently married Henry J. Cassin, a minor impresario who ran the Ramsey Opera House. Her childhood was a troubled one and she was unable to focus on her formal education. The break-up of her mother and stepfather further added to the young girl’s miseries.
  • After attending a Catholic boarding school, St. Agnes, Lucille moved to the Rockingham Academy as a work student. Life at the academy was harsh; she was physically and emotionally abused by her headmistress.
  • In 1922, she entered Stephens College, a girls' school in Columbia, again as a working student. However, she dropped out after a few months.
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Career
  • She started her show business career as a dancer in the choruses of traveling revues. Soon she got spotted for her beauty and talent which led to her Broadway debut. She ventured into films in the mid-1920s and adopted the screen name “Joan Crawford.”
  • Initially she was offered only minor roles, but the ambitious young lady tried her best to promote herself and was successful in bagging lead roles for herself. She received her major breakthrough playing Lon Chaney's love interest in the 1927 horror film, ‘The Unknown.’
  • More popular films followed and she effortlessly made the transition to the talkies with her first sound film, ‘Untamed’ (1929), which was a critical and box office success. Her string of successes continued and she became one of the topmost female stars in the 1930s.
  • She gained much fame for starring in a number of "rags-to-riches" films that were extremely popular during the Depression-era. Her portrayal of poor but hard-working women who achieve financial success through their determination struck a chord with the female audiences in the Depression-era.
  • During the 1930s she often shared the screen with some of the leading men in Hollywood and appeared in eight movies with Clark Gable, including romantic drama ‘Possessed’ (1931), musical film ‘Dancing Lady’ (1933), romantic comedy ‘Love on the Run’ (1936), and romantic drama ‘Strange Cargo’ (1940).
  • In the late 1930s she went through a low period when most of her films flopped and she was labeled “Box Office Poison." Not someone to accept defeat so easily, she struggled hard to re-invent her career and was successful in doing so.
  • She appeared in one of her best films, ‘Mildred Pierce’, in 1945 in which she played the title role. The film was a resounding success and earned Crawford the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
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  • During the latter half of the 1940s she appeared in a number of melodramas including ‘Humoresque’ (1946), ‘Possessed ‘(1947), ‘Daisy Kenyon’ (1947),and ‘Flamingo Road ‘ (1949).
  • She worked steadily throughout the 1950s and in 1962 she starred along with Bette Davis in the highly successful psychological thriller ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?’ (1962). She retired from the screen in 1970.
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Major Works
  • She played the role of Mildred Pierce in the eponymous film; it was a story about a long-suffering mother and her ungrateful daughter. Her portrayal of a hard-working woman of humble means who desperately yearns for the affection of her daughter was well received by the critics and audience alike.
  • Crawford co-starred with her bitter rival Bette Davis in the psychological thriller ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?’ a film about an actress who holds her crippled sister captive in an old Hollywood mansion. The film was a critical as well as commercial success and was nominated for five Academy Awards.
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Awards & Achievements
  • She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Mildred Pierce Beragon in the drama film ‘Mildred Pierce’ (1945).
  • Crawford was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award by John Wayne at the Golden Globes in 1970.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • Joan Crawford was married four times. Her first three marriages, to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Franchot Tone, and Phillip Terry respectively, ended in divorce. Her fourth marriage, to Alfred Steele, the chairman of the Pepsi-Cola Company, lasted till Steele’s death in 1959.
  • She had four adopted children. Her relationship with the two eldest ones—Christina and Christopher—were acrimonious. In 1978, her daughter Christina published a memoir ‘Mommie Dearest’ in which she alleged that her mother was emotionally and physically abusive to Christina and her brother Christopher. The book became a bestseller.
  • Joan Crawford suffered from ill health during her later years and died of a heart attack on May 10, 1977.
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1. Mildred Pierce (1945)

  (Romance, Film-Noir, Drama, Mystery, Crime)

2. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

  (Horror, Drama, Thriller)


3. The Women (1939)

  (Comedy, Drama)

4. The Merry Widow (1925)

  (Romance, Drama)



5. The Unknown (1927)

  (Horror, Thriller, Drama, Romance)

6. Johnny Guitar (1954)

  (Drama, Western)




7. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)

  (Adventure, Drama, Romance)

8. Sudden Fear (1952)

  (Film-Noir, Thriller)





Awards

Academy Awards(Oscars)
1946 Best Actress in a Leading Role Mildred Pierce (1945)

See the events in life of Joan Crawford in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Joan Crawford Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/lucille-fay-lesueur-1856.php
Last Updated
- January 09, 2018

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