Legendary Joan Crawford

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Above: A family portrait Joan Crawford with her four children, Christina, Christopher, Cindy and Cathy circa 1955.

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

July 2006

July 11, 2006

Hi Casey,

As a fan of old Hollywood stars like Joan Crawford, I ran across your site...Here is something I have always wondered...As you can see, my surname is LeSieur, similar to the surname of "Joan," LeSueur. It is my understanding, by study of French and mere assumption that the two names are connected. Do you know anything of Joan's family history, if the family name might have ever been changed from the French word, LeSieur?

Jack LeSieur
Brownsville, KY

July 11, 2006

Dear Jack,

Thanks for the interesting question. My family's genealogy has always fascinated me, although I have much to learn. I will make the leap that we (to include the fabulous Joan Crawford) probably have common ancestors somewhere in time in France. I am no genealogical expert, but the names are synonymous in France with many emigrating to North America either maintaining the LeSieur spelling or changing it to LeSueur.

Joan's father Thomas Lesueur was born in Tennessee after his family moved from Virginia in the 1800's. See James Plyant's brief article in Genealogy Magazine: http:// www.genealogymagazine.com/joancrawford.html. It is interesting, but I am always hungry for more information. It would make sense that other LeSueurs or LeSieurs emigrated also into Kentucky. Other relatives of Thomas LeSueur moved to Texas in the late 1800's and early 1900's, so emigration across the country was the norm as opportunities expanded across the United States.

I love making new connections with my grandmother's fans!

Thanks again for the great question and please write again.



July 11, 2006

Hello Casey,

Do your mother or Aunt plan on writing a book about their mother, Joan Crawford?

Vincent Centofanti
Boston, Massachusetts

July 11, 2006

Hello Vincent,

Thanks for the question! At this time, my mother, Cathy and Aunt Cindy have no plans to write a book about their mother. In my opinion, as well as most Joan fans, a book by the family is long overdue. It will not happen any time soon.

However, Neil Maciejewski and Michelle Vogel are finishing up work on their extensively researched and definitive filmography due for publication next March. The publication will commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of my grandmother's death. I have been asked to write the introduction and am pleased to do so. This project is very important to me, because the book will deeply examine my grandmother's impact on Hollywood over her fifty-one year career.

Thanks again for the question and please write again!



July 11, 2006


I love your grandmother. Joan Crawford is the greatest actress star ever to come out of Hollywood. She has gotten me through some very difficult times in life. No one comes close to her screen presence. Is there any chance Letty Lynton will ever be released?

Do you have any information on the status of the legal entanglement?

It is great that you are resurrecting her image after the horrible treatment she has received in the past 30 years as a result of Mommie Dearest. Keep up the great work. Bravo to you!

Joseph Addeo
New York City

July 11, 2006

Hello Joseph,

Welcome! Thank you for the lovely comments. I am proud that my grandmother's life and work was such a comfort to you.

You raise one of the more interesting legal questions to arise during Hollywood's studio era.

According to findlaw.com, the case of Sheldon et al. v. Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corporation et al. was argued for the last time in front of the United States Supreme Court on February 8 & 9, 1940 and decided on March 25, 1940. Per the court's decision, "From comparison and analysis, the Court of Appeals concluded that they had 'deliberately lifted the play'; their 'borrowing was a deliberate plagiarism'." The original case was filed in 1933 by authors Margaret Ayer Barnes and Edward Sheldon for copyright infringement.

The Letty Lynton case was landmark for copyright protection and intellectual property rights.

The court found that Metro directly plagiarized from the play "Dishonored Lady," and created "Letty Lynton." Letty Lynton is one great film, filled with all kinds of pre-Code naughtiness, like Joan getting away with murder, adultery, etc. Films like this became more subdued following the adoption and strict interpretation of the Hayes Production Code in the middle to late 1930's.

During release, Letty Lynton took in net profits of $587,604.37. The Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs in the case should be awarded 1/5 of the amount, or $117,520.87. In 2006 dollars, that amounts to an award of over $1,600,000. Not small change.

However, the case's most depressing aspect for me and all Joan Crawford fans is that legally, Letty Lynton cannot be reproduced for a profit by MGM or shown in public. I suppose with enough funding, the heirs of both Barnes and Sheldon could be paid to release all rights to the work, therefore allowing Letty Lynton to be restored (which is badly needed) and made available to the public. This could be a future project.

This is one of my favorite early Joan film, especially for the pre-Code aspects. Joan is glamorous and just a little dangerous and I love it!

On an interesting aside, the collected works of Margaret Ayer Barnes, one of the authors of "Dishonored Lady," is housed at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, not thirty miles from my home.

Thanks for the fabulous question and please write again!




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