Legendary Joan Crawford

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Above: Joan Crawford with her four children, Christina, Christopher, Cindy and Cathy, have fun in the kitchen circa 1950.

Below are letters from fans of Joan Crawford to her grandson, Casey LaLonde, from June 2006.

June 2006

June 24, 2006

Greeting's Casey,

Please let me begin by saying how Proud I am to be a fan of your Grandmother, Whom I consider the Greatest Actress of all time. And I must say that what you are doing for your Grandmothers memory makes me realize what a fine,caring man you are,and I know that wherever your Jojo is, she is looking down at you full of Love and Pride. Thank You so much my friend.

I do have a question. Have you or Anyone ever thought about having a Joan Crawford Fan Expo? I've alway's thought that would be so much fun.Fan's of Joan coming together to meet, watch her movies,Buy/Sell/Trade Memorabilia on Joan as well as others. I have wished for something like this for over 25 years.

Let me say again what an Honor it is to write you,and that you've got a friend in San Diego!

Take Care,

David Green
San Diego,Ca

June 25, 2006

Dear David,

Your wonderful comments confirm to me that I am doing the right thing by connecting with my grandmother's fans. As my grandmother said throughout her career, she would be nothing without her loyal fans.

A Joan Crawford Expo would be a blast. As you suggested, the program could contain showings of her films, a memorabilia trade show and seminars on Joan's history, films and life. The seminars could have panels of film historians, costars, whomever could add to the guaranteed lively discussions.

What a great idea! If anyone reading this has additional suggestions, I would love to hear them. To my knowledge, a program of this scope has never been attempted.

Thanks for the fantastic suggestion!



June 24, 2006

Dear Casey!

Wow! First, let me thank you for fielding questions from your Grandmother's legions of fans. It is truly admirable - my own maternal grandmother Nina, a great beauty in her day, resembled Joan. I love film but since childhood I have always respected and appreciated Joan Crawford. I was too young to correspond with her and regardless, she is my favorite film star. I recently saw "Mommie Dearest," and real quick, I want to say that having seen Network and Chinatown, that was really Ms. Dunaway being Ms. Dunaway - your grandmother was reserved and controlled in her films - she spoke a specific way - none of which is rflected in that movie - Anne Bancroft would have done her justice.

There, having said that, I have many questions, but will ask one. One of Joan Crawford's truly amazing performances was in Rod Sterling's "Night Gallery" pilot movie shot by a young Steven Spielberg, where she plays a wealthy blind lady. Was she the first choice for the part and what, if any, are the recollections you can share via your mother about this gem? It holds a special place in the pantheon of her lengthy career because metaphorically, she seems to be passing the torch to Mr. Spielberg - from silents to blockbusters, so to speak!

Any recollections would be tremendously appreciated regarding her relationship with Serling and Spielberg.

Kind Regards,

Christopher Varaste
Hollywood, CA

June 25, 2006

Dear Christopher,

Thanks for submitting some wonderful questions. It is my sincere pleasure to connect with my grandmother's fans!

Your thoughts about Faye Dunaway are on target. Ms. Dunaway's work in Chinatown, Network and more recently Albino Alligator, is exemplary. I have always wondered why she would accept taking the role of my grandmother after reading the over-the-top script. It is my opinion that Mommie Dearest was a bad career choice for many of the actors involved.

Maybe it is time for a new film about my grandmother's life . . .

Joan's work on Night Gallery is some great television. Her role as Claudia Menlo, the very rich, but blind woman in search of a new pair of eyes is dramatic, and ultimately tragically ironic. Rod Serling's Night Gallery was cutting edge for its time and the episide "Eyes" was Steven Spielberg's first big studio directing job. Spielberg did a wonderful job directing Joan and the segment is one of the series' strongest. Just imagine, your first real directing gig and you get to direct the legendary Joan Crawford!

I would love to interview Mr. Spielberg and get the real story behind the filming of the "Eyes" episode.

I believe Joan, like many others in Hollywood, thought Rod Serling was brilliant. Night Gallery was scary and creepy, yet so artfully written, directed and produced. The theme music alone sent me under the covers!

Night Gallery used oil paintings as a starting point for each episode. For example in "Eyes," the last thing Joan's character sees is her painting before she plunges through the window. I would love to know where that painting is today!

Thanks for the great questions! Please write again.



June 24, 2006

Hi Casey,

I absolutely adore your grandmother. Her talent will not likely be seen again in my lifetime. There are good actresses to be sure, but Miss Joan Crawford was the quintissential performer. My question is....Is it true that the building where your grandmother's last home was, The Imperial House, has been torn down and made into a park? I had read that on another website...Thank you for a fabulous website and for being a part of it...

Louis Vennell
Clearwater, Florida

June 25, 2006

Hello Louis,

Thanks for the lovely thoughts. Of course I am just slightly biased, but I agree never will there be another actress like Joan Crawford!

As for Imperial House at 150 E. 69th Street in Manhattan, it is still a sought after residential building. Just for fun, I checked with a real estate company and there are several units available for sale, ranging from a 1-bedroom for $1.5 million to a luxurious 3-bedroom unit for $3.5 million.

Needless to say, the property has not been torn down. The Manhattan residential market is too hot for an owner to tear down a building for even something as noble as a park.

Thanks again for the question and please write again!



June 15, 2006

Dear Casey,

Could you share some of the titles from your grandmother's library? I'm interested to learn what kind of books Joan Crawford enjoyed reading.


London, UK

June 16, 2006

Hello Barbara!

Welcome and thanks for joining us.

I love your question. These are the types of questions that really go the heart of my grandmother's lifestyle.

She had a wonderful library, filled with contemporary and classic volumes. After her death, my mother received the entire library. I estimate her library contained one thousand volumes. No first editions or anything of great monetary value, but the breadth and depth of her collection was amazing.

All of the classics were represented from the collected works of Shakespeare, some Hemingway and John Steinbeck to The Iliad by Homer. I remember the interesting, and VERY long at one thousand pages, Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright. Two of my favorite books as a child were World War II by James Jones because of the interesting drawings by the author and a large scale atlas that showed me the places I wanted to visit in the world.

Joan also received many books from friends and from institutions she would visit. For example, I have in my library a 1965 edition of The Smithsonian Institution that was presented upon Joan's visit to the Smithsonian on April 28, 1969. She also had many volumes on Hollywood. I remember specifically a book about Noel Coward, which I believe was Noel by Charles Castle.

Another interesting two book set I have was sent to my grandmother with the following inscription: "Joan dear - Something lovely to look at for someone who's lovely to look at." 3/13/61. I am still trying to decipher the signature. The book set is from a series called The Taste of Our Time by Albert Skira. These two particular books from the series are on Manet and Monet, with wonderful bookplates included.

Joan also had several very interesting and old reference books. Two of the favorites in my collection are a 1929 Websters New International Dictionary, that must be several thousand pages and weighs about ten pounds, and a 1920 edition of the cookbook Epicurean by Charles Ranhoffer that is 1,183 pages long and has 3,000 recipes, and again, weighs about ten pounds.

It is my belief that her library and interest in collecting additional volumes was her method of educating herself. We all know her educational opportunities were poor or nonexistent when she was growing up. By collecting a broad and interesting library filled with classics and contemporary novels, she was able to entertain and educate herself.

One final interesting discovery. As I was looking through the Joan volumes in my library to more fully answer your question, I came across a book on the J. Paul Getty Museum. Paper clipped inside the volume was a two page note, typed on letterhead entitled "Sutton Place, Guildford Surrey." I was intrigued and the following was typed on the letterhead:

"13th July, 1976

Dear Miss Crawford,

Before Mr. Getty died he asked us to send you the enclosed autograph. This autograph was infact one of the last which Mr. Getty signed.

I am very sorry for the delay in forwarding this to you, but as you can imagine things have been very hectic at Sutton Place.

Yours sincerely,
Elaine Mellish (Mrs)

Miss Joan Crawford
150 East 69th Street
New York,
N.Y. 10021,

On the second page of letter head is the scrawled autograph, in blue ink, of J. Paul Getty. I could not believe it!

All of the volumes in the portion of her collection I own are Joan's wonderful bookplates "FROM THE LIBRARY OF JOAN CRAWFORD" and I have included a scan of the bookplate from the Monet book.

Barbara, thanks again for the great question and please write again!



June 15, 2006

Hi Casey,

I am only 34 years old but have been fascinated by Joan Crawford for years! Her grace and talent by far overshadows screen stars of today. I never bought into the whole "Mommie Dearest" craze. I find it hard to believe that a person caring enough to adopt four children would be as cruel as Christina has made her out to be. Now that I am off of my soap box, I would like to ask you a question. Is it true that she took the time to personally respond to every fan letter she ever recieved? My second question is one I'm sure you have answered many times over. Was her relationship with Bette Davis really as bad as I have read?

p.s. - I think what you're doing to preserve her wonderful memory is something she would have been very proud of! What a beautiful woman!


South Carolina

June 16, 2006

Hi Tammy!

Thanks for the great questions! From the wonderful questions I have been receiving, my grandmother's fan base is worldwide and of all ages.

It is in fact very true she responded to each and every fan letter received. She literally wrote MILLIONS of fan letters over the years. Last year, I wrote the forward to Michelle Vogel's book, "Joan Crawford: Her Life in Letters." In it, Michelle chronicled Joan's lifelong commitment to her fans with many examples of fan letters and responses.

My grandmother was the most prolific star in Hollywood history. She maintained decades-long correspondence with many fans, along with responses to individual fan letters. She also sent out thousands of 8 x 10 signed photos to fans.

She understood that without her fans, she was nothing.

As for the Bette vs. Joan feud, the "feud" has been overplayed. The press loves good drama and what could be better than two classic Oscar winning Hollywood actresses fighting?

A more sincere feud was between Joan and Mercedes McCambridge during and after the filming of "Johnny Guitar." Joan and Mercedes, by all accounts, strongly disliked each other and made everyone aware of their feud. Great actor Sterling Hayden was on Mercedes' side during filming, often contributing to the sour mood on the set.

This overlooked film is a classic western with a feminist touch and is, maybe surprising to some, one of my favorites.

Thanks for your wonderful questions and please write again!



June 13, 2006


For many years now I have had a fascination with your grandmother Joan Crawford I have read many books watched movies and now this website! Thank you! What I loved the most is that she was so beautiful in her movies and photos but was she like that in her private life as well?

I hope to hear from you soon.

Kindest regards,


June 14, 2006

Hello Leigh,

Thank you for the lovely message and welcome! I am continually amazed at the international reach of this website and my grandmother's worldwide adoration.

This is an interesting coincidence, because this weekend I did a telephone interview with David Miller and Kevin Trask from radio station 96.5 FM in Melbourne, Australia. They had some great questions about Joan's career and family life.

As Joan famously said, "If your looking for the girl next door, go next door." Joan was serious about maintaining her great style whether she was at a film premiere or at home with friends or family. For better or worse, she was a perfectionist, and required herself to be at her very best in front of the camera or visiting with the grandchildren.

She was beautiful and passionate until the day she died.

Thanks for the great question! Please write again.



June 5, 2006


Why do you think that so many gay men identify with your grandmother? I am a gay man and I identify with her strength and her ability to survive. Do you have any thoughts on this.

Steven Litzinger
Orlando, Florida

June 8, 2006

Hello Steven,

Thanks for the great question!

There are several reasons why I believe gay men just LOVE my grandmother.

First, your own observations about her strength and ability to survive are right on target. She was a survivor and had one of the longest careers in Hollywood. Her ability to remake herself over the years is amazing. Consider Madonna, another favorite of gay men, and her image repackaging over the years. My grandmother was light years ahead of her.

She came from very humble beginnings and through her own passion and determination became one of Hollywood's greatest actresses.

Second, I believe my grandmother judged people by their actions, not their sexual orientation, age, race, etc. Her lifelong friendship with William Haines is a case in point. William lived as an openly gay man in Hollywood and befriended my grandmother in 1925 after starring with her in "Sally, Irene Mary." They maintained a close friendship until William's death in 1973. She completely accepted William on his terms as an openly gay man. No judgment, just complete acceptance.

Third is the camp factor. I have to admit that "Mommie Dearest" has had a major impact on the love affair between gay men and Joan Crawford. The movie (I won't call it a "film") is such a campy good time and most of the guys I know can say the lyrics along with the movie. Add in such other fare as "Straight Jacket," "Queen Bee" and "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" and she was destined to be loved by gay men.

Thanks for the great question! A book could be written on this topic!

Please write again.



June 5, 2006

Dear Casey,

You have certainly done your mother and grandmother proud; it's truly remarkable for you to be taking such a firm stance in restoring Joan Crawford's legacy.

My question is fairly trivial, but I'm absolutely fascinated by the answer: everyone knows the legendary lengths to which your grandmother supposedly went to keep her home spotlessly clean; and, reading "My Way Of Life," one gets the sense that, while the rumors were no doubt exaggerated, there was more than a germ (no pun intended) of truth to them. Do you recall any particular memories of your grandmother's"obsession" with cleanliness when you and your family visited her?

And, finally, a second question--are there any plans for a large scale Crawford retrospective in NYC, as was recently held in San Francisco? It's far overdue; every now and then, a "campy" Joan flick like "Berserk!" will make an appearance, which is all well and good, but a thorough, seriously-thought out festival would be much appreciated here!

Thanks again for your time and efforts.


New York, NY

June 15, 2006

Hello Todd,

Thanks for the interesting questions. Welcome to the website!

I actually have a little trouble reading "My Way of Life" solely because it is so chock full of detail on what I consider everday matters. Through "My Way of Life," I could almost make the leap that the book is a predecessor of lifestyle gurus like Martha Stewart. Ms. Stewart painstakingly defines processes to create the perfect dinner party or cocktails for friends. My grandmother provides the same "lifestyle" guidance.

Your question is not trivial at all and it speaks to a dimension of her persona that has been ridiculed over the years, mostly by my Aunt Christina. Another fan posited that Joan may have had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This is a logical diagnosis, as we all know she kept an immaculate house and had other cleanliness issues.

I will say, when we visited her Manhattan apartment, it was spotless. However, she never made a fuss when I would eat lunch and drop some food on the floor. Her apartment was professionally decorated and was the most colorful apartment I have ever visited, so it was her pride and joy and therefore she kept it very clean.

On the second part of your question about a full-scale film retrospective, it is about damn time! The National Film Theater Retrospective in London conducted a film series in 2001, showing an astonishing 17 Joan films. I appeared at The Castro Theatre in San Francisco last September at which they had a weeklong series of Joan and Bette Davis films. However, it is definitely time for a Los Angeles or New York City large scale retrospective.

It would be great to get the American Film Institute, UCLA Film Archives, MGM and Warner Bros. together for a nice film series. If anyone out there has any ideas, let's talk!

Thanks for the great questions Todd. Please write again!



June 1, 2006


What an honour and privledge it is to actually email you - I never thought I would have a connection to the greatest star Hollywood has seen - Miss Joan Crawford.I have been an absolute fan since about 1995 after I watched her in Mildred Pierce. Since then, I have continued my passion for Joan's life in films, and life with marriages, friends, family and, her fans. All my friends know about my admiration for her and so every holiday or birthday, they are certain to buy me something Joan related.

My question to you is: Did she ever work or make any films in Canada?? Did she ever visit Canada? I also heard that her biological father was French-Canadian. Would you be able to confirm this?? I look forward to your reply.

Congratulations on such a wonderful site and I know that Joan will live on as one of Hollywood's immortals. I, for one continue to promote her life and films in the most positive way possible.

Best regards

Robert Manderson
Calgary, Alberta CANADA

June 4, 2006

Dear Robert,

Thank you for visiting the website and for the great questions!

Again, it is my privilege to connect with Joan's legions of fans.

You came to know Joan in one of her greatest roles as Mildred Pierce. The film is a classic and I can watch it over and over again. On a side note, the wonderful Ann Blyth who played Veda in Mildred Pierce is appearing at The Castro Theatre in San Francisco on Friday, July 21, 2006. This is going to be a blockbuster event, as Ms. Blyth does not appear in public often. More information may be obtained at www.thecastrotheatre.com.

Attendees will see Ms. Blyth interviewed onstage AND see Mildred Pierce on the big screen. This is a must see event!

To my knowledge, Joan made films in the U.S. and U.K., but never in Canada. However, she did vacation at Lake Louise in 1950. An article I read back in 2003 in The Independent from the U.K., had my grandmother staying at Hotel Fort Garry.

As for Thomas Le Sueur's background, a great article by James Pylant appeared in Geneology Magazine online back in 2005. The link is http://www.genealogymagazine.com/joancrawford.html

Thomas Le Sueur was born in Tennessee and there appears to be no link to Quebec.

However, I am ancestral French Canadian, as my biological father's family (LaLonde) migrated from the Normandy region of France in 1665 to Quebec. My ancestor Jean Lalonde settled in an area near Montreal and was killed in 1687 during a skirmish with the Iroquois. Jean's sons Jean Baptiste and Guillaume survived and prospered in Quebec and laid the foundations for future generations in Canada and the U.S.

Robert, thanks for the great questions! Please write again.




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