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Legendary Joan Crawford

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Joan A to Z

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"No, growing old isn't fun, no matter what the Pollyanas say. I liked my elastic body and a mind that worked just a little bit faster than it does now. I don't dig the geriatric scene." ~ Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford from A to Z

Joan Crawford's life not only consisted of her dozens of films, numerous radio performance and television appearances, but alos interactions with hundreds of people, adventurous life experiences and a variety of topics. This section is designed to take you through all of Joan's encounters through life from A to Z! Read about Joan's handsome co-stars, how she really became "Joan Crawford" and any other topic that has related to Joan in her extraordinary life and career. Enjoy your journey through Joan Crawford's life from A to Z!

Joan Crawford "A"

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Above Suspicion

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MGM, 1943. Directed by Richard Thorpe, 91 minutes. Joan stars with Fred MacMurray as newlywed "Frances Myles," drafted by the British Secret Service to spy on the Nazis. This was Joan's last MGM contract picture. Says Joan in CWJC: No prize this one...but I must say that both Fred MacMurray and I tried to make the spy nonsense plausible. I really wasn't suited to the wartime melodramas they were turning out, and if a script was bad I was worse.

The Hays Office found a few things in the picture objectionable: the killing of a Nazi that goes unpunished; as well as the lines "What are you doing tonight?" (deemed to suggest "sexual frustration on the part of Miss Crawford") and "Think of what we're going to do"..."I am."

Above Suspicion (1943)

Academy Awards

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Joan won an Oscar for Best Actress (Mildred Pierce) in 1946, and was nominated for two other Best Actress awards, for Possessed ('47) and Sudden Fear ('52). She also had a role at the awards show on 4 occasions:

(1) On 3/19/53, the 25th anniversary of the Oscar, Joan (nominated that year for "Fear") appeared onstage at the end of the show with her statuette as part of a tribute to past nominees.

(2) On 4/9/62, Joan presented the Best Actor award to Maximilian Schell for Judgement at Nuremberg.

(3) On 4/8/63, Joan presented the Best Director award to David Lean for Lawrence of Arabia, and accepted the Best Actress award on behalf of Anne Bancroft for Miracle Worker (thus satisfactorily upstaging Bette Davis, nominated for "Baby Jane" that year).

(4) On 4/15/65, Joan presented the Best Director award to George Cukor for My Fair Lady.

Academy Awards

Across to Singapore

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MGM silent, 1928. Directed by William Nigh, 78 minutes. Joan's only film with silent star Ramon Novarro. Joan plays neighbor's daughter "Priscilla Crowninshield," who's been in love with Novarro's seafaring character since childhood and who is also coveted by Novarro's tough brother, played by Ernest Torrence. Said Joan: I didn't like the Singapore picture at all--both Ramon Novarro and I were terribly miscast.

Across to Singapore (1928)

Adams, India

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Does the actual singing for Joan's character "Jenny Stewart" in the 1953 MGM film Torch Song. Songs include "You Won't Forget Me," "Tenderly," and "Two-Faced Woman." (MGM: The latter is an outtake from the '53 musical film The Band Wagon that Adams had already dubbed for Cyd Charisse. The "Band Wagon" soundtrack, with Adams' songs, is currently available from amazon.com.)

India Adams

Addresses of Joan

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PRE-HOLLYWOOD:

1904,1905 or 1906. San Antonio: born and lived briefly on South Cherry Street while mother Anna still married to Thomas LeSeuer.

1910 - 1916/'17. Lawton, Oklahoma: Joan, mother, brother, and stepfather Henry Cassin lived at 804 D Avenue. The 1910 Comanche County census says that the family lived at 910 D Street that year at least.

1916/'17 - Summer 1922. Kansas City, Missouri:

-New Midland Hotel. 400-block of E. 9th St. It was across the street from the City Gate Laundry.
-403 East 9th St. Site of the City Gate Laundry, where Joan and her mother and brother worked and lived.
-4407 Genessee Street. Home of mother and lover Harry Hough's.
-3426 or 3430 Wyandotte, at Armour. Mother and brother's apartment after separation from Hough.

While in Kansas City, Joan only briefly lived at the New Midland Hotel, then was sent to these boarding schools:

-St. Agnes Academy/School (128 N. Hardesty, at Scarritt)
-Rockingham Academy (4343 Campbell)

Fall 1922. Columbia, Missouri: Joan lived at Main Hall at Stephens College for one semester. (1200 E. Broadway is the current school address; no info on whether it changed locations, though Main Hall has since been torn down).

Early 1923 - March 1924: After leaving college, worked briefly in Kansas City, then got a chorus job in Springfield, Missouri (with Katherine Emerine's show); travelled to Chicago, Oklahoma City, and Detroit (with Ernie Young's shows).

March 1924 - Christmas 1924: New York City, appearing in J.J. Shubert's "Innocent Eyes" and "The Passing Show of 1924" and at Harry Richman's nightclub. Home to Kansas City for Christmas, then received telegram calling her to Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES:

January 1925 - 1926: Hotel Washington

1927 - 1929: 513 N. Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills

1929 - 1955: 426 N. Bristol Avenue, Brentwood

POST-HOLLYWOOD (NEW YORK CITY & LOS ANGELES):

1955 - 1957: After marrying Al Steele in May 1955, they stayed in his apartment at 36 Sutton Place while their new apartment was being renovated. The Bristol Ave. home in Brentwood was sold in 1957 to Donald O'Connor.

1957 - 1967: Duplex at 2 East 70th Street, at Fifth Avenue.

Post 1959 - early 1970s: After husband Steele's death in 1959, Joan began to keep a small apartment in Los Angeles for use during her frequent trips there. Located at 8313 Fountain Avenue, Apt. D, the 2-bedroom, 2-floor condo was in a building owned by actress Loretta Young. Joan paid approximately $400 per month in rent.

1967 - until her May '77 death: Imperial House: 150 East 69th Street (between Lexington Ave. and 3rd Ave.) In 1973 she moved from a 9-room apartment (22G) to a 5-room apt. (22H).

Other addresses: Christina Crawford says that Joan kept a New York City apartment on East End Avenue in the early 1940s. In the winter of '46-47, Joan rented a house in Bedford Village, where Christina and Christopher stayed while Joan lived in the city. Also, after husband Steele died in 1959, Joan began using her secretary Betty Barker's office address, 8008 West Norton, Los Angeles, as a return mailing address.

See the "Joan's Homes" page for photos of Joan's homes and schools.

Joan's Homes

Adrian, Gilbert

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(3/3/03 - 9/14/59) Adrian Adolph Greenburg, born in Naugatuck, Connecticut, March 3, 1903, to Gilbert and Helena (Pollack) Greenburg. He began his professional career while still attending the New York School for Fine and Applied Arts by contributing to the costumes for "George White's Scandals" in 1921. He is credited for that production by his created name of Gilbert Adrian, a combination of his father's first name and his own. He transferred to NYSFAA's Paris campus in 1922 and while there was hired by Irving Berlin. In the fall of 1922 he returned to New York and began work on Berlin's 1922-1923 edition of "The Music Box Revue". Adrian continued to work on the Berlin reviews as well as other theatrical and film projects. Read more at the link below...

Adrian

Ageing

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Joan says..."Growing old is no fun, especially for a woman...Maybe I don't have all the inner resources I need to grow old gracefully...but I wonder how many senior citizens, whether they're ex-movie stars or simply rich or actually down-and-out, welcome growing old. Frankly, if they say they enjoy it, I think they're either lying through their teeth or they've gone senile. Then there's that "You're only as old as you feel" business, which is true to a point, but you can't be Shirley Temple on the Good Ship Lollipop forever. Sooner or later, dammit, you're old."

"I actually realized the awful difference age could make at a big Pepsi sales meeting...I was waiting for an elevator and I actually heard a woman beside me say to another, "See her? She used to be Joan Crawford." I couldn't burst into tears because I was to speak in ten minutes and it had taken me two hours that morning to put on the makeup that made me look like Joan Crawford...I hadn't even felt old when I heard about how much trouble there was getting money to produce Baby Jane because nobody wanted to finance "those two old broads." But at that moment I suddenly felt old, and I've felt old ever since."

"...If "old" is the way you feel, baby, I'm 200 going on 300...Dietrich thinks she's a reincarnation of Mistinguette, and her legs are great, but I wonder how much work goes into removing the wrinkles that have to come...and Garbo, in spite of all the work she's had done in Switzerland and Romania and those health diets, looks old. But goddammit, the image is created, and it's up to you to keep fitting the image. If you try too hard--and I did it for several years--you look like a plastic caricature of yourself. Naturally, you do everything you can to shed years from your appearance. You try not to drink too much, and you diet like mad, and exercise, and get the right amount of sleep, and you exercise again, and you keep your sex life active, and it's one hell of a regimentation."

"If you're lucky you come up with parts that let you play an older woman, but by the time I'd reached "that certain age" all the good parts were written for men. If your whole life has been acting and all of a sudden there's no place to go to act you're like a warhorse that's been put out to pasture. Something in you dies...when your whole life has been acting, and nobody wants you to act anymore -- it's like trying to exist in a vacuum. I won't say "live" in a vacuum; the word "exist" is a lot more appropriate..."

"The older woman, especially if she's single or a widow, is a social liability. There aren't as many older single men or widowers, so they're always in demand, and they can have a ball if they want to--hostesses are always crying for an extra man...Life is a lot like Noah's Ark. Everything goes in twosomes, so it doesn't matter if you're an ex-actress or Annie Nobody: As a single you're a drag. You can impose yourself upon your children or your close friends only so much of the time--the bulk of it you have to hack by yourself, and there are only so many books you want to read or TV shows you want to watch or records you want to listen to or memories you want to revive. Sometimes the walls close in on you."

"No, growing old isn't fun, no matter what the Pollyanas say. I liked my elastic body and a mind that worked just a little bit faster than it does now. I don't dig the geriatric scene."
Aherne, Brian

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(5/2/02 - 2/10/86) Born William Brian de Lacy Aherne in King's Norton, Worcestershire, England, UK. British actor, Joan's co-star in 1935's "I Live My Life" (both the film and radio versions) and 1959's "The Best of Everything."

Died in Venice, Florida of heart failure.

Was married to Joan Fontaine(20 August 1939 - 14 June 1945)

Brian Aherne was quoted as saying..."Surely nobody but a mother could have loved Bette Davis at the height of her career".

Brian Aherne

Albert, Katherine

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An MGM press agent when Joan arrived at the studio in 1925, she and Joan soon became close friends, remaining so after Albert married fellow writer Dale Eunson and left MGM to freelance. (Among other scoops, Joan gave Albert the exclusive for "Modern Screen" that she and Doug Jr. were divorcing.) In 1934, Albert and Eunson had a daughter, Joan, for whom Crawford was the godmother. In 1952, the friendship came to an end when Albert asked Joan to talk some sense into her daughter, who was about to marry at the young age of 18. Joan invited the young couple to her house, then phoned Albert that night that her daughter had just been married in her home. Albert never spoke to Joan again.

Daughter with Dale Eunson is actress Joan Evans.

Katherine Albert

Alcoholism

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Joan says..."Yes, I have a drinking problem...I like to think it started after Alfred's death [1959], but I'm afraid it began well before that, when I used to fortify myself before a [Pepsi] sales meetings or one of the luncheons or dinners we either gave or attended. (I'm not a public person at all, and my God, I just remembered something--I used to have a few before I had to meet the press, 'way back at Metro. But when does a problem get to be a problem?)"

"When I was young I handled liquor well. We all drank--it was part of going to a club, parties at home, lunches off the set--the film community drinks its share. Probably more than its share. But the only times I ever got drunk were on those special, dangerous occasions, like champagne in the afternoon, or a really gala evening."

"I think the problem began when I had to jack myself up to meet people...Vodka relaxed me, chased away the butterflies, put a certain safe distance between me and everybody else. I had some protection...but I'm afraid I crossed over the line when Baby Jane was being shot. Then the drinking worked its way into the production schedule. (That was such a bitch. How the hell could anyone cope with Davis and Altman dead sober?)"

"After Alfred died, and I was really alone, the vodka controlled me. It dulled the morning, the afternoon, and the night, and I wanted all of them dulled. But about a year-and-a-half ago I was on the phone one night with one of the twins, Cathy, I think, and I suddenly realized I didn't know why I'd called or what we talked about and what she was saying and that did it. That kind of drinking went. When I drink now it's on special occasions."

"I really think alcoholism is one of the occupational hazards of being an actor, of being a widow, and of being alone. I'm all three...but when I realized the mess I'd gotten myself into I was strong enough to quit... I just didn't want to turn into a blowsy old relic. I couldn't see myself walking into an AA meeting and getting up and saying, "Hello, I'm Joan and I'm an alcoholic.""

"But to be perfectly honest I'd have to admit that the drinking problem began in my middle years in Hollywood [1938, 1939, 1940]--that was when the whole damned industry seemed absolutely determined to create new highs and new lows. The trauma--God!"

It's said Joan quit the bottle for good in late 1974.
Aldrich, Robert

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(8/9/18 - 12/5/83) Director of Joan's 1956 film "Autumn Leaves" and 1962's "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane." He later directed "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (which Joan dropped out of) and is also best known for his films "Kiss Me Deadly" (1955), "The Dirty Dozen" (1967), and "The Killing of Sister George" (1968). Rumored to have been a one-time Joan paramour, she later in her 1973 Town Hall appearance excoriated him, saying that he had "many, many insecurities" and loved "evil things, vile things."

Robert Aldrich was quoted in saying on "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"..."Judging by the initial press reaction. I wasn't sure whether I was going to produce and direct a motion picture or referee a fight."

Robert Aldrich

Ambassador Hotel

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Los Angeles landmark located at 3400 Wilshire Blvd. It opened on New Year's Day 1921 and soon became the stomping grounds for Hollywood's elite. Its club, the Cocoanut Grove, was the site where Joan won over 100 dance trophies in her early years in Hollywood. The hotel hosted 6 academy awards ceremonies and was the site of the first Golden Globes awards. In 1968, the Ambassador became infamous as the site of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination. The hotel closed in 1989, and in September 2004 the city announced plans to raze most of the buildings on the 23-acre grounds to build a K-12 school. (The Cocoanut Grove will remain as the proposed school's main auditorium.)

As of July 2005, the battle for the Ambassador is still being waged. Visit the Los Angeles Conservancy site to read the latest and find out what you can do to help. And as of December 2005, the battle seems to be lost: See this "Ambassador's Last Stand" blog (below) for photos of the Ambassador as it's being renovated into its new incarnation.

The Ambassador Hotel and Cocoanut Grove

American Cancer Society

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In 1973 Joan appeared in both print and TV ads for this organization. They were also one of six organizations that she left part of her estate to.

American Cancer Society

American Film Institute

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In June 1999, the AFI named its 50 Greatest American Screen Legends of all time (25 men, 25 women). Joan came in at #10.

AFI

American Women's Voluntary Services

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A WWII organization that Joan joined, providing daycare for the children of women working in war factories.

American Women's Voluntary Services

Anderson, Curtis and Anne

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Neighbors and friends of Joan's at Imperial House. Joan would show Anne photographs of her children and call for advice on cooking. In the fall of 1976, Joan was invited to a dinner party at their place, but was unable to attend because of a black eye she'd gotten from a fall. They saw little of her after that time.
Anderson, Maxwell

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(12/15/1888 - 2/28/1959) Pulitzer-winning American playwright whose works were also often adapted for film and radio. He adapted Somerset Maugham's story "Rain" for Joan's 1932 film of the same name. Joan also performed his play "Mary of Scotland" for radio in 1937.

Maxwell Anderson

Andre

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Maker of Joan's shoes and handbags during her time in New York.

Andre Shoes

Andrews, Dana

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(1/1/09 - 12/17/92) Actor whose film and TV career spanned over 50 years, beginning in 1940. President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1963 to 1965, Dana Andrews was one of the first to speak out against the degradation of the acting profession, particularly actresses doing nude scenes just to get a role. Probably the first actor to do a public service announcement about alcoholism (in 1972 for the U.S. Department of Transportation), he was a member of the National Council on Alcoholism and did public speaking tours. Quote from Bob Greene, "Chicago Tribune", November 3, 1993: "To me, Andrews . . . represented both the grand possibilities and the ultimate despair the movies can offer a man. He was a certified movie star, yet by the end of his life he enjoyed neither artistic acclaim granted a Fellini, nor the ease of getting a job taken for granted by a Phoenix." Worked with such directors as Fritz Lang, William Wyler, William A. Wellman, Jean Renoir, Elia Kazan and Otto Preminger. Co-starred with Joan in 1947's Daisy Kenyon. He initially agreed to the role, but tried to decline after reading the script. His lawyer advised him to stay on, so he did.

Dana Andrews

Angel, Zuzu

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(Birth name: Zuleika Angel Jones) (6/5/21 - 4/14/76) Brazilian designer whom Joan met on a trip to that country for Pepsi in 1969. Joan subsequently became a fan of her fashions, joining other American admirers such as Liza Minnelli and Kim Novak. Angel was an activist against her country's dictatorship and died in a suspicious car crash in 1976. A motion picture was completed and released in 2006 (see link below) also there's a great synopsis on Zuzu's life by a reviewer.

Zuzu Angel

Arden, Eve

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(4/30/12 - 11/12/90) Eve was born just north of San Francisco in Mill Valley and was interested in show business from an early age. At 16, she made her stage debut after quitting school to joined a stock company. After appearing in minor roles in two films under her real name, Eunice Quedens, she found that the stage offered her the same minor roles. By the mid 30s, one of these minor roles would attract notice as a comedy sketch in the stage play "Ziegfeld Folies". By that time, she had changed her name to Eve Arden. In 1937, she attracted some attention with a small role in Oh Doctor (1937) which led to her being cast in a minor role in the film Stage Door (1937). By the time the film was finished, her part had expanded into the wise-cracking, fast-talking friend to the lead. She would play virtually the character for most of her career. While her sophisticated wise-cracking would never make her the lead, she would be a busy actress in dozens of movies over the next dozen years. In At the Circus (1939), she was the acrobatic Peerless Pauline opposite Groucho Marx and the Russian sharp shooter in the comedy The Doughgirls (1944). For her role as Ida in Mildred Pierce (1945), she received an Academy Award nomination. Famous for her quick ripostes, this led to work in Radio during the 40s. In 1948, CBS Radio premiered "Our Miss Brooks", which would be the perfect show for her character. As her film career began to slow, CBS would take the popular radio show to television in 1952. The television series "Our Miss Brooks" (1952) would run through 1956 and led to he movie Our Miss Brooks (1956). When the show ended, she tried another television series, "The Eve Arden Show" (1957), but it was soon canceled. In the 60s, Eve raised a family and did a few guest roles, until her come-back television series "The Mothers-In-Law" (1967). This show, co-starring Kaye Ballardran for two seasons. After that, she would make more unsold pilots, a couple of television movies and a few guest shots. She returned in occasional cameo appearances including the Principal McGee in Grease (1978), and Warden June in Pandemonium (1982), showing that she still had the wise-cracks and screen presence to bring back the fond memories of Miss Connie Brooks.

Eve Arden

Arden, Joan

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Joan Arden was the original name selected in a contest to "rename" Lucille LeSueur. There were multiple submissions of this name, and thus the threat of MGM's having to pay multiple prize amounts according to US postal rules governing such contests, another entry was hastily agreed upon.

1925 Movie Weekly Article

Ardmore, Jane Kesner

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Co-writer of Joan's 1962 autobiography A Portrait of Joan. Said Joan in CWJC re the book: I'm a goddam image, not a person, and the poor girl who worked on it had to write about the image. It must have been terrible for her...I think she'd have been better off with Lassie... I must have driven the poor girl who worked on it crazy with the sins of omission. (A bright, darling woman, by the way.) But at the time it seemed right. Maybe it was right. I don't think I lied--I just left out a lot. There's a difference.

My Way of Life

Arnold, Johnny

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(11/16/1889 - 1/11/1964) MGM cameraman who befriended Joan and gave her both acting and camera advice in her early days telling her that her face was "built" but that she just needed to lose some weight, which she promptly did. He worked on her films "Sally, Irene, and Mary" (1925), "Paris" (1928), "Rose-Marie" (1928), and "Hollywood Revue of 1929," and was head of the MGM camera department from 1931 to 1956.

Johnny Arnold

Arthur, George K.

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Appeared with Joan in "Pretty Ladies" (1925) and starred in "The Boob" (1926).

The son of a travelling salesman and a department store merchandise demonstrator, Arthur was obliged to fend for himself from an early age, selling newspapers and working at starvation wages for a condiment manufacturer. Although underage, he escaped from this life by joining the Bugle Corps at the outset of World War One. His experience in army shows as a comedian and singer encouraged him to try for an acting career. Click link below to read more...

George K. Arthur

Artisdale, Louise

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The woman that gave us the name "Joan Crawford." Louise was the winner of Movie Weekly's 1925 "Name Her and win $1,000" contest, which transformed "Lucille LeSueur" into "Joan Crawford." The winning name was originally "Joan Arden," but since there were multiple submissions of this name, and thus the threat of MGM's having to pay multiple prize amounts according to US postal rules governing such contests, another entry was hastily agreed upon. A check for $500 was issued to Mrs. Artisdale on September 23, 1925. Click the link below to read the initial 3/27/25 contest article from Movie Weekly which, among other oddities, says young Lucille was a debutante! Oh my! Mrs. Louise Artisdale resided at 149 Dartmouth St., Rochester, New York.

1925 Movie Weekly Article

Arzner, Dorothy

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(1/3/1897 - 10/1/1979) One of the first female directors and an open lesbian. She started out as a typist at Paramount Studios, graduating to continuity, then editing, then directing. She worked at Paramount from 1927 to 1932, then freelanced, directing 17 films total which included, 1929's The Wild Party with Clara Bow and 1933's Christopher Strong with Katharine Hepburn, before retiring from the industry in 1943. During WWII, she directed WACs training films, then later did Pepsi commercials at board-member Joan's request and taught at UCLA.

She directed Joan's 1937 film "The Bride Wore Red" and finished Joan's previous film "The Last of Mrs. Cheyney" after director Richard Boleslawski died during filming; she was uncredited. Joan's husband Franchot Tone initially recommended Arzner to Crawford after seeing her 1936 film "Craig's Wife" which was later re-made as 1950's "Harriet Craig", starring Joan.

Dorothy Arzner

Asher, Jerry

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Joan got Asher a job in the MGM mail room, and he eventually advanced to the publicity department, later becoming a fan magazine writer who churned out many favorable Joan stories, and then a press agent. He was a Joan confidante and frequent guest at her home. And was also later very gossipy about her personal life. Jerry Asher was partially responsible for helping Joan revitalize her career when moving to Warner Bros.

Ashley, Lady Sylvia

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Had an affair with Doug Fairbanks, Sr., and married him, breaking up the famed Fairbanks-Pickford marriage, was widowed by him; then later married Clark Gable.

Lady Sylvia Ashley

Astaire, Fred

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(5/10/1899 - 6/22/1987) The son of an Austrian immigrant, Fred Astaire entered show business at age 5. He was successful both in vaudeville and on Broadway in partnership with his sister, Adele Astaire. After Adele retired to marry in 1932, Astaire headed to Hollywood. Signed to RKO, he was loaned to MGM to appear in "Dancing Lady" (1933) before starting work on RKO's "Flying Down to Rio" (1933). In the latter film, he began his highly successful partnership with Ginger Rogers, with whom he danced in 9 RKO pictures. During these years, he was also active in recording and radio. On film, Astaire later appeared opposite a number of partners through various studios. After a temporary retirement in 1945-7, during which he opened Fred Astaire Dance Studios, Astaire returned to film to star in more musicals through 1957. He subsequently performed a number of straight dramatic roles in film and TV.

In his film debut with Joan in "Dancing Lady," he performed two numbers with Joan: "The Gang's All Here" and "Let's Go Bavarian."

Joan was quoted in saying..."Some men can't allow a woman to drive, but Fred didn't compete with his wife, he enjoyed her prowess...Fred, you see, is such a virile man, he's never had to prove it. In all his years in show business, I've never known him to be rude and never have seen him make a pass at a girl...He's kept himself intact, and he could because he's such a fulfilled man in his personal life...It was good for me to know that a marriage like theirs could happen in show business. I made a mental note."

Fred Astaire

Asther, Nils

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(1/17/1897 - 10/13/1981) Nils Asther was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1897 and raised in Malmö, Sweden, by his wealthy Swedish parents. After attending the Royal Dramatic Theater School in Stockholm, he began his stage career in Copenhagen. His film debut came in 1916 when the director Mauritz Stiller cast him in the lead role (as an aspiring actor, appropriately enough) in the Swedish film Vingarne (1916). After working with Victor Sjöström in Sweden and Michael Curtiz in Germany, Asther moved to Hollywood in 1927, where his exotic looks landed him romantic roles with co-stars such as Greta Garbo, Pola Negri, and Joan Crawford. Although his foreign accent was a hindrance in "talkies", his Hollywood career continued until 1934 when he was blacklisted for breaking a contract and went to Britain for four years. After his return to Hollywood in 1938, his career declined and by 1949 he was driving a truck. In 1958, he returned to Sweden, where he remained until his death, making occasional appearances in television and on stage. Although he was married in the early 1930s, he was well-known in certain circles as being a homosexual male.

Nils appeared with Joan in 3 films: "Our Dancing Daughters" (1928), "Dream of Love" (1928), and "Letty Lynton" (1932).

Nils Asther

Astor, Mary

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(5/3/06 - 9/25/87) Mary's German immigrant father pushed her into a beauty contest at age 14 and her first movie "Sentimental Tommy" (1921) at age 15. After a number of minor parts she starred in John Barrymore's "Beau Brummel" (1924). She had a lively affair with Barrymore, over with before she starred a second time with him, in "Don Juan" (1926), the first silent movie with Vitaphone music and sound effects. Her first husband, director Kenneth Hawks (brother of Howard Hawks), died in a 1930 plane crash. While divorcing her second husband in 1936 her personal diary was entered in evidence in the custody fight for their daughter. Included among other well-publicized juicy bits was her secret affair with playwright George Kaufman. Her career picked up after the scandal -- "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1937), "Midnight" (1939) (again with Barrymore), "Brigham Young" (1940), and a best supporting Oscar for "The Great Lie" (1941). Her crowning role was the lying Brigid O'Shaughnessy in "The Maltese Falcon" (1941). Three divorces, alcoholism, and attempted suicide resulted in smaller parts from then on till "Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (1964), her last due to a heart condition. She lived her final years confined to the Motion Picture Country Home.

Mary Astor

Autumn Leaves

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Columbia, 1956. Directed by Robert Aldrich. Millicent Wetherby is a mid forties writer, having never been married because of her devotion in taking care of her ailing father, she finds the sudden and unexpected love of a younger man, Burt Hanson (Cliff Robertson) flattering and exciting. After much conflict over their age difference, they decide to marry, only then does Millicent (Joan) discover the secret that her husband has been hiding from her. He’s been married before! Read more at the link below...

Joan said this about "Autumn Leaves,"..."One of my very favorite pictures...It was, I think, the best film of its type--the older woman with a younger lover--ever made. The loneliness and desperation of her situation came through with no need for melodrama or overacting--in fact, I played it down. Cliff Robertson was stunning; very few actors could have brought that kind of credibility to such a demanding part. His mad scenes can't be topped. (I'm proud to say I coached him from all the research I'd done for "Possessed.") Good story, believable characters, good script, good acting, consequently a good film..."

Autumn Leaves (1956)

Ayres, Lew

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(12/28/08 - 12/30/96) Born in Minneapolis he was raised in San Diego, California. A college dropout, he was found by a talent scout in the Coconut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles and entered Hollywood as a bit player. He was leading man to Greta Garbo in "The Kiss" (1929), but it was the role of Paul Baumer in "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1930) that was his big break. He was profoundly affected by the anti-war message of that film, and when, in 1942, the popular star of "Young Dr. Kildare" (1938) and subsequent Dr. Kildare films was drafted, he was a conscientous objector. America was outraged, and theaters vowed never to show his films again, but quietly he achieved the Medical Corps status he had requested, serving as a medic under fire in the South Pacific and as a chaplain's aid in New Guinea and the Phillipines. His return to film after the war was undistinguished until "Johnny Belinda" (1948) - his role as the sympathetic physician treating the deaf-mute Jane Wyman won him an Academy Award nomination as best actor. Subsequent movie roles were scarce; an opportunity to play Dr. Kildare in television was aborted when the network refused to honor his request for no cigarette sponsorship. He continued to act, but in the 1970's put his long experience into a project to bring to the west the philosophy of the East - the resulting film, "Altars of the World" (1976), while not a box-office success, won critical acclaim and a Golden Globe Award.

Co-stared with Joan in "Ice Follies of 1939."

Married to Lola Lane and Ginger Rogers.

Joan is quoted for saying..."Someone very close to me said something absolutely devastating a few months ago...she recalled how furious I'd been because Lew Ayres was ten minutes late on the set one day when we were filming "Ice Follies" and I told him off... anyway, Lew is a beautiful and sensitive man, so easily hurt, and my friend said, a little bitterly, "Does it matter now that he was ten minutes late?""

Lew Ayres

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1930s

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