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Above: Joan Crawford was known as "JoJo" to her grandchildren.

Ask Casey

I am honored to introduce Joan Crawford's grandson, Casey LaLonde to the Legendary Joan Crawford site. This page is devoted to the fans of Joan Crawford and her endless devotion to her fans. Casey has been kind enough to accept questions from Joan Crawford fans. This is truly a great addition to this website and a tribute to Joan Crawford. Her legacy of corresponding with her fans is being carried on through her grandson. Thank you Casey for giving the fans a second chapter in the Crawford legacy.

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Below is an introduction to Casey LaLonde and his memories of his grandmother, Joan Crawford.

Childhood memories are sometimes fleeting images of family at the dinner table, holiday celebrations or just a quiet, rainy Sunday afternoon. My earliest memories outside of my parents and sister were of my grandmother. A strong, independent woman who lived in New York City, the most exciting place in the world.

As my family lived in eastern Pennsylvania, near Allentown, our trip to the city would take about two hours by car. Driving through the Lincoln Tunnel was always a treat. It was scary and fascinating driving through an underground and underwater tunnel to see my grandmother.

The grandmotherly figure that answered the door was dressed in a housecoat and soft house slippers. She wore makeup that accentuated her features, but not overdone. I learned later in life that she wore several different wigs to maintain her fabulous good looks.

My memories were like those of other children visiting their grandmother's house. A welcoming hello, hug and kiss. "Would you like some lunch and something to drink?" was almost always the first thing she asked.

As usual, a Pepsi to drink. Nothing like an ice cold Pepsi in a bottle on a hot summer day.

Upon reflection of my grandmother's life, she left nothing to chance. That included her resistance to being called "grandmother," "grandma" or any of the many names children bestow on grandparents. She preferred a self-created nickname, "JoJo." It was a natural nickname, derived from her first name. It rolls off the tongue and was easy for a child to remember and master.

To me, JoJo was a loving and caring grandmother who lived in exciting New York City. To the rest of the world, she was Joan Crawford. Yes, The Joan Crawford, star of over eighty films and dozens of television appearances. Oscar winner, Pepsi diplomat and grandmother.

I knew her during her last years and while she was in failing health. But did she still shine! There was a spark even I as a child could see in her eyes. The same eyes that dazzled in "Rain" and "Mildred Pierce."

I came to be on March 16, 1972, son of Jerome LaLonde and Cathy (Crawford) LaLonde. My mother and father met in Alexandria Bay, New York, home to the lovely vacation spot known as the Thousand Islands. My sister, Carla, was born in October 1970. We moved soon south to Pennsylvania after I was born to a suburb of Allentown, where my father had just landed a new job.

My early family life was nothing out of the ordinary. No international travel, no extravagant lifestyle. Just a normal suburban family.

And the many visits to New York City to see JoJo.

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I remember walking with my family in Chinatown and to the many delis and bakeries in my grandmother's neighborhood. By this time, JoJo had moved into Apartment 22-H of Imperial House on East 69th Street. The well-known Architectural Digest photo shoot is how I remember the apartment. Lots of green and yellow furniture. I still have the small footstools, still clad in their green leather.

JoJo passed away on May 10, 1977. Gone too soon. I was just over five years old. Her death cast a pall over my family's house. My mother was devastated over JoJo's death.

My sister and I did not attend the funeral. I cannot recall ever meeting Aunt Christina or Uncle Christopher. Aunt Cindy and my mother were always close, as they were fraternal twins and best friends growing up.

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The years following JoJo's death were punctuated with the publication of "Mommie Dearest" by Aunt Christina. My mother appeared on Good Morning America in May 1981 to defend her mother. I realized that day that JoJo was a tremendous Hollywood star because my classmates and teachers interrupted the morning's lessons to watch the broadcast. That also marked the day I began keeping the name of my grandmother a secret. I had a belly full of Mommie Dearest jokes. No one but my closest friends I grew up with knew who I was. To most other classmates, teachers and neighbors, I was just another suburban kid.

My parents separated in 1984. It was the summer after 7th grade. Dad left. Mom worked and raised the kids in the house they built after JoJo died.

I attended Northern Lehigh High School in Slatington, Pennsylvania, a sleepy northern suburb of Allentown. I did well in school, graduated from Penn State University in 1994 and then pursued a Masters Degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

While at Penn State, I met Heather, the love of my life. We married in 1995 and now live and work in the Philadelphia suburbs. We travel extensively and are film fanatics. Our favorite Joan Crawford films are "A Woman's Face," "Rain" and any movie teaming Joan and Clark Gable.

I made my first public speaking appearance, after over 30 years in seclusion, in September 2005 at The Castro Theater in San Francisco. The Castro was running a Joan vs. Bette Davis film series and I was invited to speak. I had a wonderful time and I witnessed first hand the intense following my grandmother still has to this day. The theater showed "Mildred Pierce," "Johnny Guitar" and "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" on the big screen, as they were intended to be seen.

Send a letter to Joan Crawford's grandson - Casey LaLonde

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As 2007 marks the 30th anniversary of JoJo's death, I am endeavoring to rebuild her reputation as a stellar Hollywood actress, businesswoman and most of all, loving mother and grandmother. I welcome your letters and questions about my late grandmother, Joan Crawford. My grandmother wrote thousands of letters and always found the time to respond to her loving fans. I would love to carry on that tradition in some way.

Please post and submit your question below. I will respond to you as quickly as I can. All letters will be posted to the website so please check back to the Legendary Joan Crawford website often. I look forward to hearing from you.

Casey LaLonde

Email Address:
Name:
Location:
Your Question to Casey:
  

Letters from Fans

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August 2007

Hello Casey,

My name is Millicent, but my friends call me Millie. I'm 34 years old,and use a wheelchair due to being born with cerebral Palsy. I first became aware of your Grandmother through Mommie Dearest, but I hasten to add that for me, the book never rang true in the first place. I'm truly
sorry that your family has had to endure such heartache at your Aunt Christina's hands. Perhaps through your efforts her good name will finally be cleared. I truly hope so.

Love, Millicent/Millie Tirk
Champlin, Minnesota



August 2007

Dear Millie,

Thank you so very much for writing to me! Webmaster Neil Maciejewski does a fantastic job and makes my small contribution so easy.

I am pleased you see past "Mommie Dearest." Joan's life and career were extraordinary and I learn something new almost every day! With Turner Classic Movies and DVD technology at the forefront, more and more of Joan's work may be seen. With other Internet technology such as YouTube, her other work and interviews are being released. Very exciting for fans and family alike!

Thank you for the kind words and please take care!

Please write again!

Best,
Casey

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August 2007

Casey,

I must say the photo of latter-day Joan standing in front of her youthful portrait was wonderful-- she was an extraordinary beauty, young AND old!

What do you make of the quote by Helen Hayes: "Joan tried to be all things to all people, but I wish she hadn't tried to be a mother."

Henriette
Daly City, CA



August 2007

Dear Henriette,

Welcome and thanks for the letter.

No matter what age, my grandmother always kept her beautiful looks! I too love that photo and could not agree with you more.

Although friends for decades, Helen Hayes appears to have been at least slightly critical of the way Joan raised Christina. I believe her comments were focused on Christina and Christopher but not about my mother Cathy and Aunt Cindy. Christina, Christopher and Joan were destined for some type of collision, based on their personalities. I believe Helen Hayes could see this situation and made her comments based on her experience.

Helen's comment is interesting, because I believe Joan tried to be everything to everyone, for better or worse.

Thanks for the letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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August 2007

Hi Casey,

No question. My mom was Joan's hairstylist for many years and just wanted to say...my time spent with Joan was wonderful. I was lucky enough to have her cook breakfast for me and my mom in palm springs MANY years ago. I will always remember her as a great woman. I have some letters she wrote when my children were born....she had a way with those letters!!

Thanks for being here to clear up that nasty "Mommie Dearest."

Chic
Los Angeles, CA




August 2007

Dear Chic,

Thank you very much for contacting me! Welcome!

I love to hear stories about people and their interactions with my grandmother. As her career spanned so many decades, she came into contact with literally tens of thousands of people, including your mother!

It brings me joy to learn that you had such great experiences with Joan. Her kindness to friends and coworkers was legendary and you experienced this first hand. Can you imagine Hollywood stars cooking breakfast personally today? Unheard of!

Joan's letter writing is famous and I am so pleased that she included your family in her regular correspondence.

Thank you for the lovely memories!

Please write again!

Best,
Casey

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August 2007

Hello Casey,

I am a huge fan of Joan Crawford. She just had such presence and power for a woman of that era that continues on today. Yes, my and my husband's favorite movie is Mildred Pierce also. Although, love all of her work and look forward to any movie she starred and always embellished that is Tivo'd in our home. Joan would surely love the Tivo creation, I wonder?

Although I read the book and seen the movie Mommie Dearest, I cannot understand why Christina would portray her mother in such a horrific fashion after her passing. I am sure it is a sore subject amongst your family, but doesn't seem normal to do so and seem to stay out of the public eye after doing so. It is not believable that only one child recalls such bitterness.

Joan Crawford to me was a courageous woman, talented, business smart, street smart, caring, and selfless to welcome beautiful children into her life that completed her. More importantly, the gift to be a mother.

Love your site, I enjoy the beautiful pics and the wonderful memories of a great lady. She is an icon that I believe too many of our young actresses today should take note.

Thank you again for keeping her spirit alive and sharing the memories with us fans. Your JoJo is surely proud of you and smiling down on you for your love and respect.

Sincerely,

Annette
Redding, CA




August 2007

Dear Annette,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

I too love my Tivo and I know Joan would have loved to have one! With the advent of Turner Classic Movies my Tivo records constantly. This Friday, August 3rd, is the TCM "Summer Under the Stars" day dedicated to my grandmother. I just love how TCM honors her and the multitude of classic Hollywood stars all year long.

As for Christina, I would never put myself in her shoes. Her very public hateful memories of her life with Joan don't correlate with my mother and Aunt Cindy's fond memories of their mother. I choose to believe my mom's account of life with Joan.

Thanks for the wonderful comments about the website. My personal thanks to Neil Maciejewski for making this happen!

With all the recent bad news about "young" Hollywood - Lindsey Lohan, et al, today's stars would do no harm by emulating the work ethic of classic Hollywood stars like Joan. The thing my grandmother dislike most were unprofessional actors!

Annette, thanks for the letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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July 2007

Hello Casey.

I have long been a fan of Joan Crawford. In have several autographed items, and a book from her estate as well as a bookplate. I have 5 copies of "Mildred Pierce," my favorite film and I never get tired of it. Someone told me that a colorized version of the film was available. Do you know anything about it?

Thanks so much.

Best,
Kent Layton
Chicago, IL



July 2007

Dear Kent,

Thanks for the letter and welcome to the website!

I always love to hear stories about Joan fans and their memorabilia collections. It appears you have some interesting items including one of my grandmother's famous autographed items.

Mildred Pierce is also one of my favorites. Aside from being the film in which Joan won her only Academy Award, it is an incredible film noir with an outstanding supporting cast including Zachary Scott, Eve Arden, Jack Carson, Bruce Bennett and the lovely Ann Blyth.

As for a colorized version of Mildred Pierce, Ted Turner tinkered with colorizing many films in his MGM and Warner Bros. catalog in the mid 1980's to much protest by Hollywood directors and other industry insiders. They considered colorizing to damage the film's integrity as a work of art. Since then, not much colorizing has been done, but some still proceeds.

According to my research, Mildred Pierce was colorized. However, I could not find any copies for sale at the usual Internet outlets. Copies may be purchased through private sales however, so keep looking!

Thanks for the letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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July 2007

Dear Casey,

I'm feeling really honored about answering my question.I think your grandmother still got fans all over the world and she will them have always because of her great Work she did on her movies. She left something behind that never will be forgotten. She was just great and I admire her and sometimes I wish I would had met her in person and had a talk to her for a while.

I really would like to know what was the true eye color of Joan, on black and white movies you can't see it and on the color Movies looks it so many times diffrent.

Well Casey I wanna thank you again for this great work you are doing for Joan and she really would be proud of you. Please go on this way because here on the outside are so many Joan fans who would like to know all about her.

Best Wishes,

Ursula
Germany



July 2007

Dear Ursula,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

Another great letter from Germany. I am still amazed by my grandmother's worldwide fan base!

Joan had big blue eyes. Although not readily seen in most of her films, due to them being shot in black and white, her eyes were probably her most expressive feature. Those fans who have only seen her black and white films, Joan had red hair, those big blue eyes and lots and lots of cute freckles.

She had such flawless skin that makeup artists from the silent film era through her years at MGM and Warner Bros. had the ability to manipulate her skin tone with ease.

Thank you for the kind letter. I indeed plan to continue to share my perspectives on my grandmother's life and career through this website and other ventures.

Thanks again and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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July 2007

Casey,

I cannot really think of a question but just wanted to sincerely thank you, Mr. Lalonde...I was feeling down thinking of my Mum's passing...even though it's been almost three years, it's something you just do not get over. Then I found your wonderful website. I have been a dedicated fan of your grandmother for many years now. And to see you carrying on her name has given me such a thrill!

It's such an important task - Joan Crawford's beauty, dedication and persona must never be allowed to be forgotten...My heart-felt thanks to you...

Christopher Parker
Toronto, Ontario, Canada



July 2007

Dear Christopher,

Thank you for the heart-felt letter!

My condolences on the passing of your mum. The passing of a parent is always a difficult time. I am glad this website has provided some enjoyment for you.

It has become my mission to keep the family connected to my grandmother's legacy as a classic Hollywood star, mother and dedicated friend. So many other Hollywood icons have become marginalized or forgotten in this age of Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton. Today's so-called stars have nothing on the legendary careers of Bette Davis, Norma Shearer, Ida Lupino and Joan Crawford.

With support of fans like you, I will continue to my celebration of my grandmother's life, career and accomplishments.

Thanks for the wonderful letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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July 2007

Casey,

What an honor to write to Joan Crawford's grandson.

My question is if you would want to meet your Aunt Christina. Are you trying to contact her?

Also, did Joan ever have contact with Christopher's kids? What relationship did Ms. Crawford have with her son?

Thanks!

Layne
Cleveland, Ohio




July 2007

Dear Layne,

Thanks for the letter and welcome to the website.

It is my honor to communicate with my grandmother's fans!

As for meeting my Aunt Christina, I go back and forth on this issue. I am just not sure how I would handle myself. Mind you, I would not get overtly hostile if I met her, but I would have to ask her pointed questions about Mommie Dearest. I suspect she would be hesitant to even meet me, as she would not want to be asked questions that challenge her assertions about life with Joan Crawford.

To my knowledge, Joan never spent any significant time with Christopher after he left home. As we all know, Joan's relationship, especially with Christopher, was not smooth. I have had some contact with Christopher's daughter Janit so I will inquire if she spent any time with Joan.

Thanks for the questions and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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July 2007

Casey,

Why did Christina allow such a horrible nasty movie about her mother? Was it predicated on the fact that neither her or Christopher did not receive a cent from Ms. Crawford's will?

I can't even imagine a child doing this to a parent. How sad that is.

Best regards,

John Bier
Fresno, CA




July 2007

Dear John,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

Christina's demons are all her own. To most people, the publication and later campy film version of Mommie Dearest provided years of stand up comedy and pop culture references. To some, the book and film pushed child abuse from out of the shadows.

Your statement that Mommie Dearest was written because Christina and Christopher were written out of my grandmother's will. To my knowledge, Christina as never fully answered that question. She hangs her hat on assertions of child abuse and no one presses her on the issue.

Although my mother and Christina were several years apart in age, my mother always spoke lovingly of Joan and discounted Christina's account of life in the Joan Crawford household.

Thanks for the letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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July 2007

Hi Casey!

Your grandmother sounds like an remarkable woman as an actress. She loved what she has done. I wish I could of met her in person years ago, but I was only 6 years old when she died. I have watched many of her movies.


PS. I think your site on your grandmother is amazing! It's great for thenext generation of her family to still continue her memory. I remember when I first seen "MOMMIE DEAREST", I cried. I just didn't care for that movie. I liked your grandmother with Clark Gable though.

I wish I could of met her.

Thanks for letting me comment about your great grandmother as an actress!

Have a nice Day!

Aimee
Fremont,Nebraska



July 2007

Dear Aimee,

Thank you for the sweet letter!

In my biased opinion, my grandmother was a remarkable woman, mother and actress. You and I are just about the same age and would give anything to have had a few more years with Joan. As a film and Hollywood fanatic, just to hear the stories of classic Hollywood and her experiences with Clark Gable, Norma Shearer and the many stars of MGM.

With the advent of DVD technology, more and more classic Hollywood films are being released. Look for a second Joan Crawford box set later this year!


RE: PS. As I wrote before, please ask as many questions and send as many letters as you want!

Neil Maciejewski does an outstanding job with this website. I wouldn't be answering fan letters without him!

I love your gut reaction to Mommie Dearest. The film made you cry - the film makes me cringe! I am thankful fans like you see past the Mommie Dearest propaganda.

My grandmother's films costarring Clark Gable are some of my favorites too. I love Dancing Lady (1933) and the 1931 version of Possessed. Crawford and Gable are one of the greatest pairings in film history, not to mention their lifelong love affair!

Thanks for the letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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July 2007,

Casey,

My grandmother was a LaLonde, daughter of George LaLonde, and sister of Royal, Jerome's father. Jerome lived next door to my grandparents. I am the same age as Carl (Tickey), Jerome's brother. I can remember Royal Jr., Billy, Merle (Lawrence), Carl (Tickey),Diane, and Jerome.

Andy Longton
Tucson, AZ



July 2007

Dear Andy,

It is a pleasure to hear from a member of the LaLonde family! I have many questions.

What was it like living in Clayton? Are you still in contact with any of the family? When did you leave Clayton?

My wife and I just visited Clayton, Cape Vincent and Alexandria Bay this past May. My parents, sister and I spent many summers in the Thousand Islands in the late 1970's and early 1980's. This was my first visit in over ten years. The last time I was in the area was for my Uncle Royal's funeral, then the funeral for my grandmother Mary LaLonde.

Thanks again for writing!

I would love to hear some stories about life in the Thousand Islands, so please contact me!

Best,
Casey

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July 2007

Hi Casey,

Thanks so much for caring so much about your grandmothers rich legacy.

My question is...last week-end my mother and I watched your grandmother in the film "Rain". My mom is not very inclined to give complements about just anything,so I was very proud to hear her exclaim "WHAT AN ACTRESS!"at least 3 times.

Personally, it is one of my favorite Joan performances.

My question is: Why do you think she detested this great film so much? Was it because it failed at the BO?

Thanks for reading this, and once again thank you so much. Your Grandmother was a beautiful Lady and we love her.

Sincerely,

David Green(and his mom,Mary)
National City,California




July 2007

Dear David,

Thank you for the wonderful letter!

I also like my grandmother's performance in "Rain." This is one of her films that is shown frequently on television due to its public domain status. This is one of the few big classic Hollywood films currently in public domain status. Turner Classic Movies recently premiered the film, so it will be on television even more frequently.

My grandmother famously disliked her turn in "Rain." The following quote is from Roy Newquist's Conversations with Joan Crawford. "Rain - well, if there is that retrospective I hope they burn every print of this turkey that's in existence. It was simply awful. I don't understand how a writer like Maxwell Anderson could have turned out such a ghastly script and how Lewis Milestone could have directed it so badly. I don't understand, to this day, how I could have given such an unpardonably bad performance. All my fault, too - Milestone's direction was so feeble I took the bull by the horns and did my own Sadie Thompson. I was wrong every scene of the way."

There you have it, Joan hated the film for all kinds of reasons, from the director to the script.

Thanks for the great question and please write again!

Give my best to your mom!

Best,
Casey

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July 2007

Casey,

Do you know if in any of your grandmother's movies, she wore a red dress, a black dress with beige polka dots, or a red dress with white polka dots? Please email me as soon as possible, because I need this for a project. I am a huge fan of your grandmother,and I am working on a classic actresses report where she is one of 10, 2 to be more descriptive.

Thank you so much for taking your time to help me.

Sincerly,

Allison
San Diego



July 2007

Dear Allison,

Welcome and thanks for the letter!

The red dress portion of your question is easy. The rest, not so much . . .

My grandmother wore a stunning red sequined dress designed by Adrian for the 1937 film The Bride Wore Red. I had a wonderful opportunity to view the dress in 2005 as part of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) museum show "Glamour: Fashion to Die For." Attached is a photo of the actual dress. Stunning indeed!

This was my first visit to FIT and an interesting fact is that my mother Cathy attended the school back in the 1960's as a fashion student.

The dress is amazing and according to IMDB.com, the dress was used twice more, in the 1941 film The Big Store. More interestingly, the dress was shown in color in the 1943 film Du Barry Was a Lady. The only single drawback to viewing The Bride Wore Red is that the film was shot in black and white.

Thanks for the questions and please write again! Good luck with the project.

Best,
Casey

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Below are archives of the letters from fans to Casey, click on images below to see past letters.

June 2007

May 2007

April 2007

March 2007

February 2007

January 2007

December 2006

November 2006

October 2006

September 2006

August 2006

July 2006

June 2006

May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

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