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Ask Casey March 2008


March 2008

Dear Casey,

I'm a Joan junkie. I've got all the DVD's and VHS and have read every book and anything I can find on the internet about her. I even wear a little wooden necklace with a photo of her face under my shirt to work every day. It gives me that little extra reminder to be professional yet friendly like Joan would be. I've got lots of photos of her at home and one for the office and one in my wallet. There is not a day that goes by when I don't think of Joan Crawford at least 3 times a day - really. .

When I found Neil Maciejewski's website about the tribute to your Grandmother, well being a Joan junkie I went through all of it. It's incredible what he's doing in the name of your Grandmother. I am an amateur stamp collector and I did write a letter requesting that the US Post Office create a stamp for Joan. I read that they have one coming out for Bettie Davis. It only takes a few minutes of your time and think how cool it would be to send a card with a
stamp of Joan.

The address is...Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development U.S. Postal Service,
475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW Room 4474E,Washington DC 20260-2437

Casey, you are truly an amazing person. I just finished reading the last monthly posting of your responses to your Grandmother's fans. It was like a book that I couldn't put down. I always looked forward to coming home from work and reading your part of the website. Not only did you confirm things that I've read, but the way you respond to us is so wonderful. You always welcome everyone to the website in with a positive manner. You respond to our questions with all true facts. If if there is something you don't know you're always willing to put in your own time to look into the subject and get back to us. I can't imagine how much time you've spent thus far on us, but we "Thank You" from the bottom of our hearts. I love the bits of old history that you give us and letting us know if you've traveled in our direction in your journeys. The photos that went along with your responses are the amazing. I've never seen a lot of the photos that you and Neil have provided and I thought I've seen everything on your Grandmother.

O.K. my question is... I understand that Betty Barker was your Grandmother's personal assistant from 1955 - 1977. Before that time when Joan lived at the Brentwood estate was there ever a "Carol Ann" as her housekeeper or personal assistant? In the Mommie Dearest movie they show Joan always shouting for "Carol Ann".

Peace, Love and Happiness to you - Always.

You're the best!

David Morrocco
San Diego, CA

March 2008

Dear David,

I just love your letter! So full of energy, excitement and the love for Joan Crawford!

I too have written the U.S. Postal Service to encourage them to release a Joan stamp. It would be fabulous to have my grandmother memorialized on postage. Given Bette Davis has a stamp release in 2008, Joan can't be far behind!

I am very pleased that you have taken the time to read the many wonderful letters I receive via this website. Neil Maciejewski does one fantastic job of commemorating my grandmother's life, career and impact on Hollywood and pop culture. The photos alone are well worth taking the time to explore the site.

As to your question, Betty Barker was indeed my grandmother's confidential secretary from 1955 to 1977. Betty spent many part-time and volunteer hours working for Joan even before 1955. She was a confidante and friend to my grandmother and provided many years of devoted service.

The infamous "Carol Ann" character from Mommie Dearest is in fact a fictional creation. No doubt she may have been based on my Aunt Christina's memories and knowledge of Betty Barker, Christina could never have used Betty's name in fear that Betty would have sued the pants off of Christina for defamation and libel. Just think of the "Carol Ann" character as an amalgam of several people in Joan's life, although in my opinion, not a very factual manner.

Same goes for the Greg Savitt character, as played by Steve Forrest in Mommie Dearest. He is most likely another mixture of several "real" people so those folks couldn't sue Christina for defamation or libel. Interesting, even after these almost thirty years later!

David, I can't thank you enough for the wonderful letter! Please keep Joan in your heart and please do write again!



March 2008


Just wanted to be among the many people thanking you for the time and care you put into answering all of our messages. Isn't it amazing how Joan Crawford is still inspiring, influencing and charming new fans all these decades after her death? It's a testament to her immortal talent and charisma.

My favorite Joan movie (so far) is Mildred Pierce, but I also love Strait-Jacket, Torch Song, and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Mind you, this could change once I see more films!

Intrigued by your earlier mention of an alleged one night stand between JC and Marilyn Monroe, I did some research on-line and found a very reasoned debunking of the MM 'transcripts.' Apparently the tapes themselves never actually surfaced, what was allegedly on them was transcribed by one man, many years after the fact. It's an interesting read, here's the url:


Hope that sheds some light on yet another salacious (though intriguing!)rumor.

John Hamilton
Pittsburgh, PA

March 2008

Dear John,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

I am always highly interested when new information about my grandmother is uncovered. When the news broke in 2005 that she and Marilyn Monroe may have had an affair, I was intrigued. Given that she has been gone for over thirty years, the news jumped into the public domain.

The news media (and I) took the information as solid and just went with it. Given the information you provided, the story is now highly suspect. It is a shame that John Miner would create fiction about two of the most iconic stars to ever grace the silver screen. Miner most likely was seeking to create a new, swirling controversy to give his theories credence.

Thank you for the kind and thoughtful comments about my grandmother. I agree that Mildred Pierce is probably my favorite Joan film for many reasons: Michael Curtiz' direction, Joan's acting and the excellent writing and story of James M. Cain. Add the outstanding supporting cast of Ann Blyth, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott and Eve Arden and you have the ingredients for an Oscar winning film.

You have screened some of Joan's great films and I strongly encourage you to view more. Daisy Kenyon was just released on DVD for the first time and I had the pleasure to do an interview segment for the DVD extras. Daisy is interesting with solid performances by Joan, Dana Andrews and Henry Fonda. Otto Preminger directed the film, and although not his best, still very worthy to check out!

Thanks again for the great letter and information and please write again.



March 2008

Hello, I am 33 years old Deaf Pop artist, I have two subtitled DVDs of "Grand Hotel" and "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.." But she had made so many films that I haven't seen yet or made any choices which best films to buy of her.. especially Mildred Pierce, but I hope they are subtitled.

To introduce myself, I learnt all about her through books a few years ago due to a valid childhood memory of watching the vile film Mommie Dearest that had an impression on me, but I wasn't sure about her character and Faye Dunaway really trashed the image of Joan... so I eventually wanted to learn about the real person in Joan as I learned for a fact from the film that she was so devoted to responding to her fans.. and realized due to this legacy,there might be a website so I checked it out. I was very surprised to read that you are carrying on the tradition for Joan. (If only if in other era) I would had liked to write to her,it was a pity I was only four when she passed away. I have always had admired Joan for her length of a amazing long career and her remarkable dancing, and her endless face transformations in every eras.I loved to study the photographs of fashion breakthroughs, I cannot believe her grandson is on this website!...So how are you and your family doing? I am doing well and am painting some works based on NZ themes.. but I seem to be influenced by classic films!

Kind Regards

March 2008

Dear Abbie,

Thank you very much for the letter and welcome! It is a pleasure to receive a letter from New Zealand!

Almost all newer DVD's are subtitled, so no worries there. Warner Bros. recently released the Joan Crawford Volume 2 box set and all of the films are subtitled. Daisy Kenyon was also just recently released as a stand-alone DVD so it is also available for your viewing pleasure.

I am so pleased to read that you discovered Joan through Mommie Dearest, but was interested in her enough to look beyond my Aunt Christina's hype and discover the REAL Joan Crawford. Many good books have been written, including the excellent, recently published biography by Charlotte Chandler. I attended an event at UCLA in Los Angeles two weeks ago that included Ms. Chandler. She was wonderful and gave me a copy of the book at the event and I devoured it on the plane ride home. I highly recommend the book, as it provides much original material through in-depth interviews Ms. Chandler conducted with my grandmother in the years before her death.

I would love to see some examples of your work, as I am intrigued!

Thank you again for writing and please do write again!



March 2008

Hi Casey,

I was just at Barnes & Noble and discovered a new biography of your grandmother. So when I came home I googled "Joan Crawford" and found your Webstite. FANTASTIC is the only word that describes it.

I was also raised in Allentown, PA. I was born there and graduated from Parkland High. Back in the 70's shortly after the death of your grandmother there was a of course a tremendous rise of interest about Joan Crawford. My wife and I are also huge classic film fans. But back in the 70's it was rumored that one of Joan Crawford's daughters lived in Sand Spring Park Apts. in Schnecksville, Pa. Did you and your family once live there? If so, do you have any memories of it. I had family and friend that lived there at the time. I now live in Southwest VA,(near VA Tech) but am still quite intrigued with the classic stars of old Hollywood.

I also hate to see progress tearing down those fabulous styled homes once occupied by the GREAT'S of Hollywood. Keep up the good work keeping your grandmother's legacy alive. She was by far one of the brightest stars & one of my all time favorites.

All the best,

Bill (BJ)

March 2008

Dear BJ,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

I am glad that you discovered what I will assume is Charlotte Chandler's new biography. As I have written previously, it is a wonderful examination of Joan's life, career and impact on the world. Ms. Chandler's interviews really bring some new and exciting details to light.

One of the most important details is the fact that Joan knew almost a year before her death that Christina was planning some type of tell-all book. I have always suspected she knew what was happening and given the very clear denial of Christina and Christopher from the will. Overall, Ms. Chandler's book is excellent and it is highly recommended.

Your letter really brought back some memories!

I attended Parkland School District for about half of kindergarten. The elementary school was just a mile or so away from Sand Spring Apartments, where we lived for several years. My father worked at Mohr Orchards and I remember riding around the nearby apple orchards with my father on his motorcycle. What great memories and a nice place to spend my childhood.

The apartment complex had some wonderful people living there, including my childhood friends Omar and Robert. They moved to Texas just before we moved to our house north of Allentown. I haven't seen Omar and Robert since I was five years old! I recall their father was a doctor and took a new job that forced the move to Texas.

This is really bringing back some great memories, so forgive my indulgence. Sand Spring Apartments was aptly named, because across from the main apartment area was a pavilion with tennis courts and at least two sandy creeks running through the property. My friends and I would play for hours in the creeks. Best of all, the proverbial "sand spring" was located nearby and a concrete spring house had been built that had public access to the deliciously cold water. What a refreshing treat on a hot summer day!

One final memory: Nearby was a dairy farm called Crystal Springs Farm. We would walk, bike or nag our parents to take us for ice cream cones and other treats. It was so much fun and a wonderful part of my early childhood.

I do regret (very selfishly) for my family moving to our new community north of Allentown because the educational opportunities at the Junior High and High School just weren't up to par. I made the most of it, but it just wasn't Parkland School District . . .

My wife and I spent three years in Richmond while I pursued a Master's Degree. We really like living in Virgina.

Thanks for the fantastic letter and spurring those lovely memories.

Please write again!



March 2008

Hi Casey,

Just read the March issue of Vanity Fair, the article about your family and I have questions and am so happy to see your website. Your mother now lives in Kendall, Florida. Has your dad passed, or was there a divorce? Both your Aunt Cindy and your Uncle Christopher passed away, which is unusual at such young ages. How did they die?

Thank you very much Casey.

Sunday Trimble
Ocala, Florida

March 2008

Dear Sunday,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

I was very pleased to read an excerpt from Charlotte Chandler's new Joan biography in Vanity Fair this month, in their annual Hollywood issue. My mom provided the interview for the last chapter in the book, recounting some of her best memories of her mother. The book chapter and Vanity Fair article ends years of silence by my mom on her obviously wonderful life with Joan.

My mom moved to Florida last year. She and my dad (Jerome) separated when I was twelve, in between my 7th and 8th grades in school. He is still alive and living in Virginia.

Cindy and Christopher both passed away too young . . .

Cindy passed away awaiting a liver transplant and Christopher because of cancer.

Thanks for the letter and please write again.



March 2008

Hi Casey,

It was so nice to hear from you recently. Thank you for the fast reply.

Did you know that a new box set with five of your grandmothers films will be available on February 12th on Amazon.com? Isn't is nice to see that there is still such a strong interest in her work?

You know, as much as some may think that Mommie Dearest caused your grandmothers career a bad blow, I think it did keep interest in her work alive. Most young people see Mommie Dearest and eventually want to know what kind of an actress Joan Crawford was. After they are exposed to some of her work they discover how wonderful she really was.

Someday Mommie Dearest is going to be nothing but a footnote, but the wonderful films your grandmother performed in will be out there always.

It must be so nice for you to be able to put in a DVD and once again hear her voice. To hear her laugh, see her smile or just to look at her beautiful eyes. I lost my grandmother 20 years ago and I treasure a tape I made of her speaking with me about our family history. If only we had home video in those days, I too would be able to have a nice visit with her even if it is only on film.

Be well. I look forward to hearing from you again.

Ken Mensing
Rockville Centre, New York

March 2008

Dear Ken,

Thanks for the follow-up letter and welcome back!

I still have to pick up the new Joan box-set and I am looking forward to seeing the films and extras. It appears that Warner Bros. is really getting committed to releasing classic Hollywood films on DVD. I couldn't be happier to see more of my grandmother's films be released to a wider audience.

Your thoughts on Mommie Dearest hit the mark. I too believe although my Aunt Christina did one heck of a job destroying my grandmother's reputation, in the long run the hatchet job may have in fact worked to encourage fan interest. Many of the fans who write to me cite Mommie Dearest as their initial Joan memory or experience. Most come away from the film interested in learning more about Joan's life and career. Once past the Mommie Dearest juggernaut, fans learn how dedicated and loyal she was to her family, friends and fans.

I find it ironic that Christina's best work to destroy her mother's reputation and legacy have actually worked to prolong and perpetuate Joan's memory.

It is truly amazing for me, as I have over eighty films spanning six decades, radio shows and television appearances to have a "visit" with my grandmother. Your grandmother's family history video must be as important to as these things are to me.

Thanks again for the follow-up letter and please do continue writing!



March 2008

Greetings Casey,

Although you've probably been hearing this many times, I do want to sincerely thank & congratulate you on the marvelous job of helping to restore your grandmother's image to where it belongs. She certainly deserves the title of "Hollywood Royalty" having given no less than 200% for so many years during her long & illustrious career. Joan's dedication to her both her craft & fans is legendary, which is why it's about time that she receive the ultimate respect & recognition that she rightfully deserves. I have admired her fortitude & tenacity for decades.

Have you possibly read or heard any reviews about Joan's newest bio titled "NOT THE GIRL NEXT DOOR" by Charlotte Chandler ?

Keep up the great work,

Rita Johnson
Radnor, Pa.

March 2008

Hi Rita!

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

Radnor is only about thirty minutes from my house, so I am in the neighborhood!

Thank you for your warm comments. It has been a real pleasure corresponding with my grandmother's fans from around the world.

Indeed I have had the opportunity to read Charlotte Chandler's new Joan biography. I met Charlotte at the February 25th event at UCLA showcasing her new book. Charlotte was very kind and gave me a copy of the book at the event. On the flight home to Philadelphia, I devoured the book. Charlotte's use of in-depth interviews she conducted in the several years before my grandmother's death were intriguing.

I highly recommend the book to any Joan fan or general film buff interested in one of the leading ladies of the classic Hollywood era.

Thanks for the letter and please write again!



March 2008

Hi Casey!

The Joan Crawford Vol 2 dvd box set is great!! Are there any plans to release Letty Lynton, Possessed (the 1931 version) and Paid on DvD soon? They're already found on eBay in obvious bootleg versions.


Boris Michaluk

March 2008

Dear Boris,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

The Joan Crawford Volume 2 box set is getting good reviews. The box set has a nice range of Joan films, including Sadie McKee (1934), Strange Cargo (1940), A Woman's Face (1941), Flamingo Road (1949), and Torch Song (1953). A Woman's Face and Flamingo Road are two of my favorites. In my opinion, Joan should have been nominated for an Oscar for her role in A Woman's Face.

The DVD extras look interesting as well.

Sorry to say, but Letty Lynton (1932) won't be seeing the silver screen again any time soon. Due to a copyright infringement case from the 1940's, the film has been shelved permanently. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer filmed an adaptation of a stage play determined by the courts to be used by the studio without due compensation or attribution to the author. I have tinkered with the idea of contacting the playwright's estate to get Letty released. It hasn't been seen "officially" since the mid-1940's.

I have seen it, and Letty is a fabulous Pre-Code film, with Joan in the title role. Robert Montgomery plays her love interest. What makes the film interesting (and Pre-Code) is that Joan murders a man blackmailing her, and she comes away unrepentant and unpunished for the crime. The apparent extra-marital sex and unpunished crime elements make this film exceptional and normal for 1932. Also, the gowns designed by Adrian for the film are some his best and most beautiful creations!

As for Paid and Possessed, I have no information on their potential releases. A neat early 1930's Joan box set is definitely called for! Maybe Warner Bros. next release! Stay tuned.

Thanks for the letter and please write again!



March 2008

Dear Casey,

My name is Stephanie,I'm 16, and I live in southwestern Pennsylvania. I am a fan of your grandmother, Joan Crawford. She was such an amazing actress, and she was so beautiful. I wish I could have met her, she seemed like such a loving person, and someone fun to be around. It would have been so cool to get her autograph! But you're so lucky, you're part of her family! I have pictures of Joan Crawford hung on my walls all through my bedroom. Just to let you know, I refuse to believe some of the things that happened in "Mommie Dearest," why would your Aunt Christina write such a thing like that?

But there is one thing I just want to know, do you know if your grandma really hated wire hangers? Or was that just made up?

Oh and one more question, where was she buried? I would someday like to visit her grave. Well I am happy I get to send you this letter and I hope to hear from you soon!


March 2008

Dear Stephanie,

Thanks for the letter and a warm welcome!

Thank you for the lovely comments. I love receiving letters like yours, especially from younger fans.

Although I did spend time with her towards the end of her life, I too wish I had more time with her. Maybe twenty years more! I could have sat for hours and hours listening to her stories of classic Hollywood. Just to be able to ask questions about Clark Gable, the entire Barrymore family, Barbara Stanwyck, Eve Arden and Greta Garbo!

Thank you also about your thoughts about Mommie Dearest. For far too long, people have taken my Aunt Christina as the last word on Joan's life. I think things are slowly changing for the better, especially with devoted websites like this one and new biographies like Charlotte Chandler's Not the Girl Next Door. I encourage you to continue your love affair with Joan Crawford and watch as many Joan films and television shows and even get your hands on some of her radio shows. She has a lifetime of interesting material to enjoy.

There has been much time spent discussing Christina's experience with wire hangers in her book and film. If one gives any credence to Christina's assertions that no wire hangers were allowed the Crawford household, I would suggest that it was grandmother's time spent working with her mother in a laundry when she was a child. The emotional and psychological trauma she endured working in the laundry at such an early age obviously made an impact. "No wire hangers" was born.

Following her death in 1977, she was cremated and later interned at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, just north of New York City. I encourage you to visit her mausoleum, as she is interred next to her last husband, Alfred Steele.

Thanks for the letter and please do write again!



March 2008

Dear Casey,

Is it true that in the last years of her life, your Grandmother Joan Crawford became completely reclusive, and never left her apt. in NY? If so, why was that?


Pamela Wohl
Los Angeles, CA

March 2008

Dear Pamela,

Thanks for the letter and welcome to the website!

It is very true that my grandmother became somewhat reclusive towards the end of her life. Since 1925 she had been the larger than life Hollywood legend Joan Crawford. As it is widely known, her last "official" public appearance was at a party in 1974 for friend and Hollywood star Rosalind Russell. One particular photo was taken at the party that I have seen many times that Joan did not consider very flattering. Joan felt she just couldn't maintain her impeccable image she had cultivated over her life and career.

Some call it narcissism, I call it a woman who had spent a lifetime creating and recreating herself as Joan Crawford. She was just embarrassed by her appearance and decided to stay out of the public eye. She still saw friends and family until her death in 1977. Joan just decided it was time to retire the "public" Joan Crawford.

She was by no means a recluse like Hollywood mogul Howard Hughes. She was of sound mind until her death but just didn't want to disappoint her fans who expected her to look her best.

Thanks for the letter and please write again!



March 2008

Hello Casey!

I love your grandmother!

Just three quick questions: Is it true that Joan made a point of learning everyone's name on the set of each picture, including cameramen, lighting crew, etc... and that she gave out gifts to each and every one?

I'm also curious to know if you have ever met or spoken to Faye Dunaway or any other cast members from the "Mommie Dearest" film? If so, what was their take on your grandmother?

Lastly, did Joan have a nickname for you? I guess that was more than three questions! Sorry! Thanks so much!

Reisterstown, MD

March 2008

Dear Tammy,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

It is very true that Joan was masterful at learning the names of every film studio crew member. It was much more, though. She came to know each and every crew member because she as she worked tireless hours on the set, they became an extension of family to her.

Joan also knew, selfishly maybe, that the crew members, from the camera operators to the lighting technicians, MADE the films. Their hard work and diligence in lighting and shooting her scenes correctly would make her and the film successful. She knew without the crew's loving attention, the set was nothing more than an empty sound stage.

As for your second question, not a one! I wouldn't quite know what to say to Faye Dunaway. She realized soon after the film was released that she made a huge mistake in portraying Joan in such a campy, critical manner. Although Ms. Dunaway has done a few notable films since Mommie Dearest, such as Albino Alligator (1996), her real work can be seen in more throwaway films such as Dunston Checks In (1996) and Supergirl (1984). Unlike her earlier roles in the 1970's such as Bonnie and Clyde and Chinatown, her post-Mommie Dearest roles just didn't match her earlier success.

I really have no interest in meeting any of the other cast members. I always like Howard DaSilva, who played Louis B. Mayer in the movie, but he passed away in 1986. Mr. DaSilva played Benjamin Franklin in the film adaptation of the Broadway hit 1776.

For your last question, my name is kind of a nickname already.

Thanks for the letter and please write again!