Legendary Joan Crawford

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Casey Letters April 2007


April 2007

Dear Casey,

I just wanted to take the opportunity to say what a nice forum I think this is, to honor your grandmother. I am in my late 40's and have been a Joan Crawford fan since the age of 10. I first became aware of her on the original airing of "Night Gallery" in 1969. From then on I've followed her career, her life, and her legacy avidly.I remember how saddened I was on hearing of her death and had been hoping she would make another appearance.

One regret I have is that I never wrote her myself to express my admiration. I'm sure I would have received a reply! So now I'm writing to you to let you know how much Joan has meant to me. Those who only look at the "Mommie Dearest" aspect of her legacy are missing out on a lot.

Thank you for what you are doing.

Best regards,

April 2007

Dear Leo,

Thank you very much for the letter!

I too am sure if you would have written to Joan you would have received a reply. She was world famous for responding to her fan mail. On that topic, I suggest you pick up a copy of Michelle Vogel's Joan Crawford: Her Life in Letters. The book provides an interesting look at my grandmother's commitment to her fans over her storied career.

Joan's appearance on Night Gallery was fantastic, never mind it was Steven Spielberg's first television directing job. I recently found a new cable channel called Chiller that shows Night Gallery often. I am waiting patiently for the channel to show the "Eyes" episode from Night Gallery. Hopefully soon, as I haven't seen the show in many years.

I couldn't agree more with your thoughts on "Mommie Dearest." I implore fans and non-fans alike to examine my grandmother's life in more detail before making any judgments. There is plenty of information published in books, old industry magazines and internet fan sites.

Thanks for the letter and please write again!



April 2007


I think your grandmother was a great star! I'm thrilled to see that you are now sharing your thoughts with us. I can't imagine how Joan could have been nothing less than larger than life even with her grandchildren!

What is one of your fonder stories with her? Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

Brad Boles
New York City

April 2007

Dear Brad,

Thanks for the warm thoughts and welcome.

Thinking back on the short time I had with my grandmother, my most cherished memories are of visiting her in Manhattan. It is an interesting dichotomy: Hollywood legend known worldwide and doting grandmother. At my young age, I knew she was an actress, but not the famous Hollywood star loved by millions of fans around the world.

Since I had no preconceived notions about her life or career, visiting with her was just a normal thing to do on any given Saturday. Although I do have fond memories of visiting with her, I still would give just about anything to spend just a little more time with her. I have so many questions about her life, career and what it was like to work with so many Hollywood legends.

Thanks for the letter and please write again.



April 2007

Hi Casey,

I have always been a fan of your grandmothers and I think it's great that you are answering questions.

My question is this: What books on your grandmother's life would you recommend? The only one I have ever read is "Mommie Dearest," and I would like to get a more unbiased version of her life.

Thank you!

Machesney Park, IL

April 2007

Dear Jessica,

Thank you for the letter and welcome!

In my opinion, there has never been a definitive, all encompassing Joan Crawford biography. There are a few books that will provide a more complete picture, aside from Mommie Dearest. Here is a short list:

A Portrait of Joan - by Joan Crawford, 1962.

Conversations With Joan Crawford - by Roy Newquist, 1981.

My Way of Life - by Joan Crawford, 1971,

Joan Crawford, The Ultimate Star - by Alexander Walker, 1983.

Joan Crawford, A Biography - by Bob Thomas, 1978.

Joan Crawford, The Essential Biography - by Lawrence Quirk, 2002.

Joan Crawford, Her Life in Letters - Michelle Vogel, 2005.

I encourage you to read everything you can find about Joan, but with a critical mind. If an author makes a claim that you find far fetched, check the facts. Most public libraries have at least some of these titles and you can purchase the rest on various websites.

Thanks for the question and good reading!



April 2007

Thanks so much for giving Joan's fans a personal connection. She would be very proud of you.

My question is this:

Was Joan able to have children of her own and was she ever pregnant?

Rita Quigley
San Antonio Tx

April 2007

Dear Rita,

Thank you for the letter and welcome!

I love to see fans write in my grandmother's home state of Texas!

My grandmother had several miscarriages in her lifetime. This must have devastated her because she so yearned to have a family of her own. She finally made the choice to adopt children, leading to the adoptions of Christina, Christopher, Cathy (my mother) and Cindy.

Never mind all the Mommie Dearest baggage, Joan was a trailblazer in adopting children as a single mother. Until that time and even longer, single women, no matter their financial means or supportive family structure, were able to adopt children. Now it is commonplace for singles of both sexes and gay and lesbian couples to adopt children in need. She was a woman before her time.

Thanks for the question and please write again!



April 2007


Thank you for taking time out of your daily life to answer our questions about your grandmother Joan Crawford. I was wondering if the house used in the movie Mommie Dearest was
actually your grandmothers Brentwood home?? If not did it even resemble the home inside??

I loved the entry of the house in the movies and the
beautiful staircase.



April 2007

Dear Irma Jean,

Thank you for the letter and welcome!

My grandmother's Brentwood home was originally of Spanish style, so there was no sweeping staircase like in Mommie Dearest. Many people who watch the film automatically assume that those who made the movie used my grandmother's Brentwood house. Not the case.

After the movie came out, I remember my mother being incensed by many things in the film, as you can imagine, but also that the staircase and inside of the home was nothing like 426 North Bristol Avenue in Brentwood.

A bit of trivia about the Mommie Dearest house exterior: It was used as the exterior for the Will Smith television show "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" from 1990 to 1996.

Thanks again for the letter and please write again!



Above: There was never a grand "Mommie Dearest" staricase. This photo is taken looking down the original semi-enclosed staircase.

April 2007

I was so happy to discover this web site, as I have always been a fan of your Grandmother.Can you please tell me where
she was layed to rest.

Thank you for your help. I would like to pay my respects if I have a chance.


Jean Powick

April 2007

Dear Jean,

Thank you for the letter and welcome to the website!

As you live in Scranton, Pennsylvania, you are not that far from my grandmother's final resting place. Following her death in 1977, she was cremated and interred next to her beloved husband Al Steele at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, in Westchester County. She is interred in the main mausoleum, Unit 8, Alcove E, Crypt 42 (thanks to the very informative www.findagrave.com).

Hartsdale is about two hours from Scranton via Interstate 84. I too am planning a visit to pay my respects this May.

Thanks for the questions and please write again.



April 2007

I live in the Thousand Island Region of Northern New York...and was told that Joan Crawford had a daughter that got married at the Edgewood Resort in Alexandria Bay. Is that true? Do you have a picture to post? and does your family still visit the area?

Thousand Island Region of New York

April 2007

Dear Renee,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

You are correct. Joan's daughter Cathy, my mother, was married on August 10, 1968 to my father, Jerome LaLonde at the United Methodist Church on Rock Street in Alexandria Bay, New York. The reception was held, not at the Edgewood Resort, but at the Pine Tree Point Resort.

My father was still in the active duty U.S. Navy when he married my mother, and was stationed at the Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia. After the wedding and honeymoon, they moved to Norfolk and stayed there until my father's enlistment was up. They moved back to Alexandria Bay, New York, where my sister was born, then I was born in 1972. My parents, especially my mom, grew tired of the freezing winters and incredible amounts of lake effect snow in northern New York, so my parents moved to the Allentown, Pennsylvania area when I was about one month old.

A year or two after my grandmother's death in 1977, my parents decided to travel again to Alexandria Bay. They purchased a houseboat on which we would vacation for many years. I loved my summers in Alexandria Bay. We traveled by boat throughout the fabulous 1000 Islands. There was just something magical and special about boating and staying the night on some of those lovely islands. Some of the Canadian islands, like Camelot Island were amazing. We met so many wonderful people and had some very special experiences. It was probably the happiest time of my childhood.

The last time I was in the 1000 Islands as a young person was around 1986. I returned with the family (with all of us coming from different locations due to college, divorce, etc.) was in the mid 1990's, first for my Uncle Royal's funeral (my father's oldest brother) and then a short time later for my grandmother Mary LaLonde's funeral.

I have planned a visit later this spring to the 1000's Islands for the first time in over a decade. There are so many fun sights and things to do, including the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, the Tibbett's Point Lighthouse in Cape Vincent and Boldt Castle in Alex Bay. Back in the early 1980's, I had my first delicious taste of Buffalo chicken wings at Foxy's Restaurant in Fisher's Landing, just west of Alex Bay on Route 12.

Thanks for the great questions and for allowing me to relive some of my favorite childhood memories.



Click on above image to see larger view.

April 2007

Hi Casey,

What ever happened to Joan's daughter, after she wrote the book, "Mommie Dearest...and also, Joan's son, Christopher?


April 2007

Dear Bev,

Thanks for the letter and welcome to the website.

Following my grandmother's death in 1977 and the infamous reading of the will to the family in which Christina and Christopher were disinherited, Christina finalized her memoir Mommie Dearest. The book was the first of several tell-all books by Hollywood stars' children. Published in late 1978, the book went on to be a bestseller and then was sold to Paramount Pictures for the obligatory adaptation to film.

According to web source Wikipedia, "The movie as a whole received overwhelmingly negative reviews. Premiere audiences at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood howled with laughter and critics derided the overstated and melodramatic tone. Many people lampooned the movie because of the acting, particularly Dunaway's fearless but perhaps overstated performance."

Faye Dunaway's career was in ruins following her outstanding roles in Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown (one of my all-time favorites) and Network.

Christina suffered a stroke in 1981 and went on to publish several other books in the 1980's and 1990's. In 1998, she re-released Mommie Dearest as a 20th anniversary addition with "additional" material highlighting even more abuse she neglected to include in the original publication. Christina owned a bed and breakfast in Idaho from 1994 to 1999, then went to work at an Idaho casino. Other than a guest appearance on CNN's Larry King Show once in a great while, nothing new from Christina.

As for Christopher, unlike Christina, he completely shunned the spotlight. He recently passed away.

Thanks for the question and please write again.



April 2007

Hi Casey,

Im doing a documentry for my high school about JC, and I need your opinon on the "Mommie Dearest" book by "Mommie Dearest."Please answer, everyone thinks Joan was a abusive women, I belive that Chirstina is just a greedy witch, was jealous of Joan. The reason I'm doing this project is because everyone in my class thinks im crazy because I think Joan was good person.

Andrew Downard
Richmond Va

April 2007

Hi Andrew!

Thanks for the letter and welcome to the website.

My wife and I lived in Richmond for several years during graduate school and loved our time there. We still have great friends there and try to visit often.

First off, I would love to see your finished documentary on my grandmother. If you are willing to send me a copy, please contact me.

Not everyone considers Joan an abusive person. I have never attacked Christina for the book or her views and experiences, because obviously I wasn't in the house during her childhood. However, given that the book was published after my grandmother's death, the only person who could defend herself was no longer among the living. Additionally, given that Christopher Crawford recently passed away, Christina is the only person left who lived in the Crawford household during the purported events in the book.

The memories of my mother, Cathy, and Aunt Cindy are of a loving and devoted mother. Stern at times, but what parent wasn't in the 1940's and 1950's? My mother expressed only love and wonderful remembrances of Joan Crawford. I suggest you focus your documentary on Joan's incredibly long and vibrant career and the positive aspects of her life as Hollywood icon, businesswoman and mother. Your classmates will be amazed at the incredibly complex woman beyond Mommie Dearest.

Thanks for the very interesting questions and please write again!



April 2007

Hi Casey!!

This is more of a comment rather than a question. I had the pleasure of meeting you at the "Mildred Pierce" event in San Francisco last year. I never did get the opportunity to thank you for spending time with me and answering questions I had about your grandmother. I was especially touched that you took a picture of my tattoo of your grandmother. You said she would have loved it and that touched me. I also want to thank you for being so active in this website and letting everyone hear your stories about your grandmother.

Thank you again!

Gloria Silvestri
Sacramento, California

April 2007

Hello Gloria!

Thanks for contacting me. It was a real pleasure meeting and speaking with you in San Francisco.

I just loved your tattoo! The photo I took is one of my favorite fan photos and I always show it to friends and family. You are a super-dedicated Joan Crawford fan!

I do think my grandmother would have loved the tattoo. It would have touched her deeply.

The Castro Theatre has been a great supporter of my grandmother and I hope to attend future Joan Crawford film screenings. Always keep an eye on their film and special events schedule.

Thanks again for contacting me. Your dedication to my grandmother's memory makes me one proud grandson!



April 2007

Hello Casey,

What an honor to be in contact with Joan Crawford's grandson! Guess there's something to be said for the technology of computers.

My question for you is this:

Do you know if Joan was ever diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder because of her penchant for absolute cleanliness and order ?


Radnor, Pa.

April 2007

Hi Steve,

We are practically neighbors! Welcome.

It has been such a pleasure connecting with my grandmother's fans. Thanks for the letter.

It is my opinion that if my grandmother were around today, she would most probably be diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Now as to the severity of her OCD, I have no idea, but she does fit some of the symptoms including her cleanliness issues. My memories of her apartment in Manhattan are of an immaculately clean, well maintained living space. I don't mean just tidy, but down clean. Everything was always in its place and I even consider her apartment to be rather spare. To my knowledge, she was never professionally diagnosed.

I remember her apartment just as it appeared in the March 1976 edition of Architectural Digest. I felt the apartment was kept at all times ready for a photographer to show for a photo shoot. Nothing wrong with this, mind you, but that is just how she lived.

Many critical childhood experiences defined her life. The constant swirling family situation, including poor family finances, and the abuse at Rockingham Academy had a significant impact. On the positive side, she became self reliant and persevered through many years in Hollywood.

Thanks for the letter and please write again!



April 2007

Hi Casey,

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions regarding your famous grandmother.

In doing some research about Joan, I read that she had very little formal education and supposedly suffered some physical abuse at one of the schools she attended where she was forced to perform a variety of menial chores.

Is there any truth to this ?

Thank you,

San Antonio, Texas

April 2007

Dear Louise,

Thank you very much for the letter and welcome!

My grandmother did in fact have very little formal education. She and her family were almost in constant motion, moving around the West and Midwest. After her birth in San Antonio, Texas, the family moved to Lawton, Oklahoma, then on to Kansas City, Missouri. She attended Rockingham Academy, a private high school, for several years and was subjected to verbal and physical abuse by the headmistress. In order to help pay for tuition to Rockingham, she had to work at the Academy when not in class. This only added to her isolation and ill will towards the school.

After Rockingham Academy, my grandmother attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, only to leave after a few months.

Add together a challenging childhood, poor family finances and the constant family relocation, she must have found it difficult to receive a proper education. Although lacking a formal education, my grandmother was always seeking learning through the books she frequently acquired for her personal library. Never mind the formal education, she was very intelligent and was always seeking knowledge.

Thanks for the great questions and please write again.





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