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Casey Letters March 2007

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March 2007

Hi Casey,

Did Cristina challenge her mothers will? Did she inherit any money?

Thanks for your response!

Lana Reeser
Des Moines, Iowa



March 2007

Dear Lana,

Thanks for the letter and welcome to the website.

As all Joan Crawford fans know, Christina and Christopher were cast out of my grandmother's will. The Tenth section of her will states, "It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son Christopher or my daughter Christina for reasons which are well known to them." I have suggested before that the obvious reason for this action was that my grandmother found out about the proposed publication of Mommie Dearest prior to her death.

Christina and Christopher contested the will and received $27,500 each from the estate. Besides the cash, they received nothing tangible from their mother's estate.

Thanks for the letter and please write again.

Best,
Casey

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March 2007

Hi Casey,

In 1968 Miss Joan Crawford was a guest star on THE LUCY SHOW. Is this show available on either VHS or DVD? I would love to buy a copy, as it is one of the best "Lucy Shows" ever done, thanks to it's guest star, Joan Crawford.

Any information you can give me would be immensely appreciated.

Sincerely,

Johnny
LAS VEGAS



March 2007

Dear Johnny,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

This is one of the more infamous episodes of the "The Lucy Show." Lucy and my grandmother, by all accounts, did not get along very well during filming. Lucy claimed my grandmother was drinking during filming and would show up on set late each morning. No matter what the circumstance, two strong willed entertainers met head to head for some interesting results!

Unfortunately, the episode "Lucy and the Lost Star" has not been released on DVD or VHS. I suspected some form of the episode or at least segments would appear on YouTube, but nothing as of yet. No more information is available, but a majority of the other existing episodes have been released so it should not be long before this gem is released from the vault.

In the absence of an official release from the studio, I suggest you check Ebay occasionally. Someone may have an old copy taped from television available.

Thanks for the question and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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March 2007,

Hi Casey,

I am a big Joan Crawford fan and have seen the "Mommie Dearest" movie. I am a mother of three children and I realize that everyone has their faults as a parent and feel that Joans were exagerated.I am sure that her daughters book and movie were not the legacy she wanted to leave behind. What do you think she might say if she were with us right now?

Lynda Benigno
Lansdale PA




March 2007

Dear Linda,

Thank you for the letter and welcome!

As we all know, especially in the Internet era, the slightest misstep by a celebrity, politician or other public person is magnified. Look at the current state of affairs with Britney Spears and the recent death of Anna Nicole Smith. Their lives are closely examined on a daily basis and any shortcomings are reported with blunt force.

As my friend and owner of Dearly Departed Tours in Hollywood, Scott Michaels always says, "If you don't want the attention, don't get famous." In the case of my grandmother, she was under the media spotlight since the 1920's, when she made it big in Hollywood. She managed to reinvent herself over the next six decades in film, television and radio. Not until after her death in 1977 did her career and life get demolished by Christina in Mommie Dearest. Her career has never fully recovered.

My grandmother spent incredible amounts of time and energy cultivating her image in Hollywood and beyond. Some call it ego. I consider it managing her life and career to maximize opportunities and success. She worked constantly to improve herself and provide for her family. Joan was devastated and felt ultimately betrayed when she found out about Christina's as of yet unpublished book.

I would give anything to have just a few more years with my grandmother. She would have been able to defend herself from Mommie Dearest, just as Bette Davis was able to defend herself from her daughter B.D. Hyman's 1985 memoir My Mother's Keeper. As history would have it, Christina published Mommie Dearest following Joan's death, thereby eliminating any chance of a counter-offensive to the book.

Your final question is magnificent. If Joan were still with us today, well she would be at least one hundred years old, but I believe she would defend herself vigorously against Christina's charges and present a point by point counter to the book. That is what has been sadly lacking since Mommie Dearest was published in 1977.

Thank you for the great letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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March 2007

Hi Casey,

At 34 years old, I saw "Mommie Dearest" for the first time today. It was obvious that it was from your Aunt Christina's point of view, as it put your grandmother in a very unflattering light. That's why I had to "surf the web" and find out about it. I was surprised to see that it was non fiction. Whether or not any of it was true, it certainly isn't any of my business. I was just glad to find this site and read so many nice things about your beloved grandmother.

In looking at these pictures, she was a very beautiful woman. I will now look into finding the other films she was in. I am glad that she has you to continue on her legacy.

You are doing a wonderful job.

April
Desert Hot Springs, Ca.



March 2007

Hello April,

Thanks for the lovely letter and welcome!

Although I believe "Mommie Dearest" to be a cruel and campy portrayal of my grandmother's life, I would never tell any fan not to see the movie. New fans like yourself usually happen upon the movie on cable, as it is probably the most shown "Joan Crawford" film. It gives me great joy that you had the interest to continue to search out information on my grandmother to get a more balanced view of her life and films.

"Mommie Dearest" is considered non-fiction and the book started a wave of expose' style memoirs by the children of Hollywood stars and stars themselves. Bette Davis and Bing Crosby have been the subject of nasty memoirs by their children. Even actress and swimmer Esther Williams got in on the act in her 2000 autobiography The Million Dollar Mermaid. I love Hollywood gossip like the next person, but sometimes it is just a little too much information!

Therefore, I do encourage you to continue with your research on Joan Crawford and seek out her other biographies. Watch as many films as you can. Turner Classic Movies does a wonderful job of showing her films and DVD rental companies like Netflix offer most or all of her films currently available on DVD.

My favorite Joan films include "A Woman's Face," "Possessed" (the 1931 version) and "Flamingo Road" among many, many others.

Thanks for the letter and please do write again!

Best,
Casey

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March 2007

First off Casey, ya have my heart felt deepest sympathy! Second , do ya think that Faye , did your grandmother justice in the movie protrayol of her life and did ya ever get to go shoppin with your grandmother before she died ? Thank ya Casey and again ya have my heart felt deepest sympathy!!

Sincerly yours,

Corpral JP Jensen
US MARINE
Riverside, California



March 2007

Dear JP,

I send my thanks to those like you in the armed forces protecting our country.

If you refer to the "Mommie Dearest" portrayal of my grandmother's life, then no, it did not do justice to her personality, private life or accomplishments. Apparently, Christina was not entirely happy with the film either.

My grandmother was becoming more reclusive towards the end of her life, especially when we would visit her in New York City. I never had the opportunity to really go out shopping or into public with her. Her health was failing also, so going to restaurants or other public activities were not in the cards.

Thanks for questions and please write again.

Best,
Casey

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March 2007

Casey,

Are you the son of Christina or Christpher? Thank you so very much for your time.

Sincerley,

Isabella Lasiago
Verona, Italy




March 2007

Dear Isabella,

Thank you for the question and welcome!

I am continually amazed by the international audience for this website! I believe you are one of the first to correspond from Italy.

I am the son of Cathy Crawford. She and my Aunt Cindy were the twins adopted by Joan in 1947. Christina was adopted in 1939 followed by Christopher in 1943.

Thanks for the question Isabella and please write again.

Best,
Casey

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March 2007

Hi Casey,

So wonderful that you are here doing what you are doing. I first became interested in your grandmother after I first saw "Mommie Dearest" and then read the book. Do you have any recollections of your Grandmother talking about opening

Pepsi bottling plants. I find her work with Pepsi so interesting and have not found much informatin about it. Other than what is in "My Way of Life "

Best regards,

Brett Ray:-)
Melbourne, Australia




March 2007

Dear Brett,

Thanks for the letter and welcome.

I always look forward to letters from Australian fans!

Your questions are very interesting and as many other aspects of my grandmother's life, it deserves much more investigation and analysis.

After Alfred Steele's death in 1959, Joan was appointed to the Pepsi Board of Directors. She became Pepsi's public face for many years, opening bottling plants around the world. Similar to my grandmother's dedication to her Hollywood fans, her consistent Pepsi public relations work during this period is telling of her strong desire to make Pepsi more successful.

Some interesting background information on Joan's work with Pepsi may be found in Roy Newquist's Conversations with Joan Crawford. The passages, beginning on page 168, recount how Joan became involved in Pepsi after she married Alfred Steele and her relationship with the company after his death. She said it was, ". . . it all seemed the natural thing to do." Natural indeed. She saw an opportunity to become involved in her husband's successful business and she made it even more successful through her celebrity.

The following paragraph is my favorite from the section on Pepsi from Newquist's book. "My activities with Pepsi came about as a matter of course, and I'm deeply grateful whenever someone with the company tells me how much they feel I have contributed. The nicest thing was said a few months ago by a Southern distributor, I think his name was Mitchell, who told me I was the first boss's wife he met who wasn't a pain in the ass."

Fabulous, feisty Joan Crawford.

Thanks for the great questions and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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March 2007

Hi Casey,

I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I am to have discovered this wonderful site and to see the absolutely amazing job you are doing in keeping Joan's memory well and truly alive. Joan has I can definately tell you so many devoted fans in Australia and their numbers are growing all
the time it seems. I would like to ask you if Joan was ever heard to comment on her 1960's movies which I enjoy greatly but about which very little is ever written . Do you know if she was happy with her post "Baby Jane", film career? I think she did some incredible work in the late 60's and I'm only sorry she didn't continue working more in the early
1970's.

Keep up your great work, Joan would be so proud of you.

Regards,
Simon Davis
Melbourne, Australia




March 2007

Dear Simon,

Thanks for the letter and warm comments.

It has been my duty and honor to preserve and celebrate my grandmother's life and memory. Over the past year or so, I have had the pleasure of being the guest of the entertainment and classic film radio show on 96.5 FM in Melbourne. David Miller and his crew do a tremendous job. I highly recommend the show.

Joan's career in the 1960's and 1970's is generally viewed as on the downturn with such fare as Strait Jacket (1964), Berserk (1967), and Trog (1970). Her last big studio film was in a supporting role (and a fine one at that) in the 1959 melodrama The Best of Everything. Two standout roles come to mind during this period, first in Robert Aldrich's fantastic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and then as the rich, nasty blind woman in the November 8, 1969 episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery.

Baby Jane, although shot on a shoe string budget, is one of the classic 1960's films starring two Hollywood icons. I cannot imagine what that set was like with Joan and Bette working closely together! Mr. Aldrich kept the cast and crew working and produced one of the greatest cult films ever.

Joan's role in the Night Gallery episode "Eyes" was made legend by directing newcomer Steven Spielberg.

Back to Baby Jane, Joan's opinion of the film was not exactly golden. As she explains in Roy Newquist's Conversations with Joan Crawford, she states that the film couldn't even get financed due to the apparent lack of box office draw of her and Bette Davis. However, she explains that the financing was so limited that she felt "like we were filming a newsreel, not a movie." Imagine Joan Crawford, legendary Hollywood film star, doing a low budget horror film. Sadly, this is indicative of the remainder of her career.

I highly recommend Newquist's book. It provides very interesting insight into my grandmother's thoughts during her later years. She pulls few punches and is surprisingly candid about her career, life and relationships. I think she had much more to offer in the 1970's, but became ill and then passed away in 1977. If she would have remained healthy, she may have been able to continue acting into the 1980's.

Thank you for the wonderful comments and the great letter. Please write again.

Best,
Casey

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March 2007

Hi Casey,

I admire you for this site dedicated to your grandmother. I am in ill health but just wondering if at a future date you would consider an interview relating to how you were influenced by jojo and what her contributions have meant in the lives of your children. A positive psychology generational approach, healthy influence, whatever you think is important an may be useful for readers.

Best Regards,

Victoria J Reeder, PhD
Ohio




March 2007

Dear Victoria,

Thank you for the wonderful letter and welcome.

I am sorry you are in ill health and I send my best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Your interview premise is fascinating. I enjoy doing interviews and to focus on the positive influence my grandmother has had on my life is intriguing and would provide some interesting information to the readers of this column. My grandmother, while human like all of us, had positive traits and experiences that fans would enjoy learning about.

Thanks for the lovely letter and please write again.

Best,
Casey

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March 2007

Hi Casey/Neil,

I'd like to know why the issue of Christina & Christopher is very rarely touched upon here. I know this website is a shrine to 'Joan Crawford', but I want to know what the woman behind the name was like. Surely, there must be some truth to the accusations raised by Joan's 2 eldest kids? Does this cut too close to the bone? I understand as a member of her family, you'd want to keep her image from being tarnished anymore. She deserves that now.

Greg
London




March 2007

Hello Greg,

Thanks for the letter and welcome.

Neil has created an especially wonderful website about my grandmother. My column provides an excellent communication conduit for fans seeking more information and the family angle to Joan Crawford.

I don't believe we shy away from the topic of Christina and Christopher, I just choose not to dwell on their story. Their story has been at the forefront of Joan Crawford history for the past thirty years through the book and film Mommie Dearest. There is far more to Joan Crawford than Mommie Dearest. That is the point of this website and my column here.

Thanks for the letter and please write again.

Best,
Casey

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March 2007

Hi Casey!

I am so glad to read all about your information about your grandmother. Like many other's before me, I only learned about your JoJo from the movie Mommie Dearest. I have to tell you, while watching that movie I thought to myself, wow if my kids ever act the way Christina does with those glaring looks and attitude...I too would like to give them a swift kick in the butt! To be quite honest with you, I am not sure what to believe about Joan's relationship with Christopher and Christina. Whatever it was, it will stay with the three of them, as they are the only ones that truly know what happened all those years ago. One thing that I can say for that movie, is that it has opened a whole new world of Joan Crawford up to people of this generation.The current generation is always hungry for information and learning. And I think that what Christina might have tried to do in tarnishing or revealing information about her mother...actually turned out doing the opposite of what she wanted.

Faye Dunaway's performance and the story have begun to intrigue people into the life and times of your grandmother. They are buying books and watching her movies to gain more information into this mysterious character. It's great and I know Joan would be glad that after all these years people are still interested in her life and work. So...maybe in the long run, the movie wasn't such a bad thing after all.

Just this week, I traveled into Manhattan with my fiancee and we went to see the two apartments that Joan lived in. My favorite was #2 on 69th, right by the park where she lived with Al. The door man saw me taking pictures there and just sat there with a smile on his face. I knocked on the door and when he opened my fiancee tried to start off with a pleasant opening...when I blurted out "Joan Crawford used to live here right???" And he smiled at me and said "Yes many years ago." So I asked him if he could point out the apartment she had. So outside he said she lived at the corner penthouse. Then we went to the Imperial House and again I blurted out to the doorman, "Joan Crawford used to live here right??" And he said yes, many years ago. He said she lived on the 22nd floor, but was not sure which apartment. So I thought you would get a laugh that some crazy girl is running around Manhattan asking the door men where your grandmother used to live. I'm sure it was something that stayed on their minds for awhile that night anyway...a young person came to see where Joan Crawford lived over 30 yrs ago.

xoxo,

Jen
Queens, NY



March 2007

Dear Jen,

Thank you for the fabulous letter and welcome to the website!

I just loved reading your letter, especially your adventure checking out my grandmother's old apartments in Manhattan. I have such wonderful memories of her Imperial House apartment.

Like many other younger fans, you discovered Joan through Mommie Dearest. It is pleasing to know that you and countless other Joan fans were so intrigued that you went beyond campy Mommie Dearest to discover the fascinating woman I knew as my grandmother. I think it is rather interesting and maybe just a little ironic that my Aunt Christina's efforts to destroy my grandmother's reputation has actually kept her memory alive, long after her death.

Never stop thirsting for more information about Joan Crawford. Your enthusiasm to learn to fantastic!

Thanks again for the letter and please write again.

Best,
Casey

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March 2007

Hello Casey,

First, I'd like to personally thank you for taking the time to correspond directly with Joan's many admirers. I know that she would be extremely proud of her grandson for doing this, especially since her devotion to her fans is legendary. What I'd like to know is....

Was the so called long standing "feud" between Joan & Bette Davis real or staged for the sake of publicity ?

Thanks!

Greg Sherman
Allentown, Pa.



March 2007

Hi Greg,

Welcome and thanks for the letter and warm greeting.

I am proud to be continuing my grandmother's wonderful legacy of corresponding directly with her incredible fans.

As for the legendary feud between my grandmother and Bette Davis, there is probably more than just a kernel of truth to the feud. Who can forget the snide remarks, such as Bette stating "She's slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie." While my grandmother responded, "I don't hate Bette Davis even though the press wants me to. I resent her. I don't see how she built a career out of a set of mannerisms, instead of real acting ability. Take away the pop eyes, the cigarette, and those funny clipped words and what have you got? She's phony, but I guess the public really likes that."

Given the occasional remarks as those, it is understandable how the public feud perception grew over the years. Perhaps my favorite feud story was from the 1962 Academy Awards. Bette was nominated for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. In my opinion, if Bette was nominated, so should have my grandmother for her role! Joan made arrangements with the other Best Actress nominees that if they could not appear to accept their Oscar, Joan would do it for them. Anne Bancroft was nominated for The Miracle Worker, and accepted my grandmother's offer. Low and behold, Anne Bancroft won, giving my grandmother the stage to accept the Oscar. Bette Davis was not happy.

Over the years, both Joan and Bette made some nasty comments about each other. All-out feud? I think both ladies were too busy with family and careers to deliberately create this feud for publicity. It was just a classic rivalry between acclaimed classic Hollywood actresses.

Thanks for the question and please write again.

Best,

Casey

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March 2007

Hi Casey,

It's such a pleasure being in contact with Joan Crawford's grandson. She's been my personal favorite for many, many years. My question is twofold:

1. Of her four husbands, it's been reported that Joan felt the most admiration & affection for Alfred Steele, chief executive of Pepsi. Is it true that when he died prematurely in 1955 that she was left in dire financial straights ?

2. How did become elected to the board of Pepsi, and how long did she hold that position ?

Thank you,

Barbara Parrish
Honolulu Hi


March 2007

Dear Barbara,

Thank you for the letter and welcome to the website!

It has been my pleasure to reconnect with my grandmother's fans from around the world.

On your first question, yes, my grandmother expressed many times that Al Steele was the love of her life. I like to go directly to the source and I quote Joan in Roy Newquist's Conversations with Joan Crawford, in which she says, "With Alfred, I didn't try at all - everything worked out all by itself, as though it was meant to be that certain way and no other." I think she was in a good place in her life when she met Al Steele and it showed.

By 1955, Joan already had a landmark Hollywood career. With Al Steele, she could finally relax and work on her relationship outside of the intense pressure and daily grind of the Hollywood studio system. Al's death in 1959 devastated Joan because I believe she was finally happy and ready to settle down.

Sadly, Al did leave Joan with debt and she went to work immediately after his death to pay off those debts and support her family.

Upon Al's death in 1959, Joan was appointed to the Pepsi Board of Directors, as a non-executive director "with special responsibility for publicity," according to Alexander Walker's Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Star. She continued in this role, traveling the world doing publicity for Pepsi until 1972 when she was asked to leave the board of directors. During her tenure on the Pepsi board of directors, she also continued to act in films, including Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Strait Jacket.

Thanks for the great questions and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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March 2007

Hi Casey,

I am a hugeJoan fan and recently found this site. What a great treat. I tried the meatloaf recipe from the "Concluding chapter of Crawford" and realy liked it. Do you know if this was Joan's personal recipe? Did she make it for friends?

I thank you for your time and look forward to heaing from you.

Cliff
Long Island New York




March 2007

Dear Cliff,

Thanks for the letter. I am very happy that you found this website! Enjoy its comprehensive information and fabulous photographs courtesy of web host Neil Maciejewski.

My grandmother's meatloaf recipe is quite good. She was a woman of many talents, including making delicious meals and she loved entertaining friends and family alike. On our visits to her apartment in Manhattan, she would always have tasty homemade treats for us.

Thanks for the questions and please write again.

Best,
Casey

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