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Ask Casey April 2008

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April 2008

Dear Casey,

I'm so thrilled to be able to communicate with Joan's grandson! She's been my all time favorite actress since the 30's and one of my prized possession is a hand written note that I received when I wrote to her during the early 1940's. I keep it preserved in plastic !!

What I especially admire about Joan is the way she was able to reinvent herself time and again, unlike many other actresses of her generation whose careers evetually petered out. In fact, her dedication & determination has been my personal inspiration for succeeding in my own professional life.

My question is this....

Although her given name was Lucille LeSueur, I've read that she adopted the name "Billie Cassin" in her youth, but
after signing with MGM the studio ran a contest to rename her. Do you know if she ever legally changed her name to Joan Crawford ?

Thanks so much,

Carol McKee
Fairfax, Virginia



April 2008

Dear Carol,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

It is always a pleasure to receive fan letters like yours!

I love how my grandmother's fans write in to say that they received a personalized note or photograph. Joan was world famous for corresponding with her fans and keeping in touch over the decades. She had a real bond with her fans and she always treated them right!

Joan was literally the mother of reinvention! I couldn't agree more that her ability to reinvent her persona over her lengthy career reinvigorated her career many times. As you stated, many other fine actresses of the era eventually just retired and faded away. Joan had the ability to shake up her career if she fell into the doldrums with a new and exciting persona. Her fans always responded!

Joan was officially born Lucille LeSueur in 1905, 1906 or 1908, depending on who you ask. After Joan's father left the family, Joan's mother Anna married one Henry Cassin. Joan took on the nickname of "Billie" and the last name Cassin like her new father.

After Joan reached Hollywood in the mid-1920's, she used her original name of Lucille LeSueur. MGM executives didn't like the sound of her last name, so Movie Weekly magazine ran a name contest. One lucky subscriber entered Joan Crawford and the rest is history. After the contest, Lucille LeSueur officially became Joan Crawford and she lived by that name until her death in 1977. To my knowledge, she officially (and legally) changed her name to Joan Crawford and it appears on her death certificate.

Thanks for the letter Carol and please do write again!

Best,
Casey

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April 2008

Hi Casey!

As so many other people have said I just wanted to congratulate you on the great job you are doing in keeping your grandmother's legacy alive and helping to restore her reputation. I really believe that in the future the whole Mommie Dearest aspect will be forgotten as a new generation of fans, such as myself, comes to see Joan's work with no preconceptions and recognises her as the amazing star that she was.

Well I don't really have a question but I did want to point something interesting out to you and Joan's fans. I live in Liverpool in England and there was a soap opera set here called Brookside, which is no longer on air. There is a young actress who appeared in the show called Suzanne Collins. I think she bears a very strong resemblance to Joan in her twenties! I have never seen anyone else who matches Joan's bone structure so closely. If you google Suzanne Collins Brookside I am sure you will see what I mean! As I said, not a question but very interesting I think ha!

Anyway if you are ever in Liverpool and if you are a Beatles fan I will be happy to show you the sights and take you to the Cavern club :)

Thanks and keep up the good work Casey!


Stephen
Liverpool, England



April 2008

Dear Stephen,

Thanks for the letter and welcome to the website!

My wife and I traveled to London in October 2006 and had a wonderful visit. We just love Great Britain and are addicted to all the shows on BBC America! On our next visit to the British Isles, we definitely want to explore more of the country, including a visit up north to Liverpool. It would be a thrill to see the Cavern Club in person!

Many thanks for your kind words. It was long overdue for someone to defend my grandmother and talk seriously about her life and career. The effect of Mommie Dearest has been extraordinarily devastating to her memory and reputation and I am doing my part to rectify the situation. I completely agree that times are changing and my Aunt Christina will have less and less impact.

I checked out Suzanne Collins. You're right! Ms. Collins does bear a resemblance to Joan in her twenties! It is the bone structure and the piercing eyes . . . Very interesting!

Again Stephen, thanks for the kind words of support! Please write again!

Best,
Casey

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April 2008

Dear Mr LaLonde

I want you to know that she is one of my icons I have always thought she was a beauty and a very good actress! She was a true legend! My favourite film of hers was Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and it was said that Miss Crawford and Miss Davis did not see eye to eye I just wondered if this was true?

My kind regards to you and your family and may Joan rest in peace, the peace she deserves I do believe that she was a loving Mother and in those days getting what you wanted was very hard especially for a woman she was a determined lady and one that should always be remembered for her fab work!!


Sarah
Scotland



April 2008

Dear Sarah,

Thank you so very much for the letter and welcome! Please call me Casey!

I too love Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? The pairing of reputed rivals Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in the same film was marketing and film-making genius! Much has been written and discussed over the years concerning the "feud" between Ms. Crawford and Ms. Davis.

I suspect some of the animosity was true. Both actresses were world renowned, loved by their fans and traveled in the same Hollywood circles. Both actresses were also the headliners of MGM Studios (for Joan) and Warner Bros. (for Bette) during Hollywood's golden age. No doubt they both were competitive. Once Joan came on board at Warner Bros., I am sure the tension and competition heated up!

However, it is my opinion that the "feud" between the actresses was fanned by the press and its exaggeration of strife.

Thanks for the letter and please do write again!

Best,
Casey

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April 2008

Dear Mr. LaLonde,

I just wanted to let you know the joy that your beautiful and talented "JoJo" has brought me! It touched me more than I can express Ms. Crawford's devotion to her fans, and how lovely of you to carry on her tradition.

I have no question. I just wanted to let you know that I have many of your grandmother's films on DVD and it thrills me when I watch them with my children.

I wish you and your family all the best!

With sincerity and admiration,

Erin Meyer
Connecticut



April 2008

Dear Erin,

Thank you for the lovely letter and welcome!

I have found great pleasure in corresponding with Joan fans like you. The letters keep pouring in and I love answering all the questions. I hope to carry on my grandmother's wonderful devotion to her fans worldwide!

I am so very pleased you have shared Joan's films with your children. You are encouraging yet another generation of Joan Crawford fans!

My sincere thanks for the letter and please do write again!

Best,
Casey

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April 2008

Dear Casey,

I watched "Dancing Lady" last night. This is the first film I have seen with your grandmother and Gable. I'll have to make a point to look for some of the other films they worked on. Did you notice that Eve Arden had a very small walk on in the film? She was the southern dancer the stage manager threw out. She must have just been starting out at that time.

How great it was that Turner had so many of your grandmother's film on around her 100th birthday. It has been so nice to see so many of her works at one time. It was nice to see so many of her silent films. They are hard to come by.

I wanted to ask you if you have any contact with your great uncle Hal's daughter Joan LeSueur (Lowe)? I wonder what memories she might have of your grandmother.

You mentioned to another fan that Letty Lynton has not been released due to a copyright issue. I hope they do something about that before the films is lost. After 75 years I would think it is starting to decay.

Thank you for your kind responces back to my letters. It is alwasy good to hear from you.

Best regards,

Ken Mensing
Rockville Centre, New York



April 2008

Hi Ken,

Thanks for writing!

New information says that "Letty Lynton" is restored and "safe and sound" and awaiting a release date in a few years after the copyright expires. Only time will tell...

Here's some information that you can find under the "Facts & Myths" section of this website:

Joan's niece was her brother Hal's daughter and was obviously named after Joan Crawford. Joan LeSueur was born circa 1933-1934. Joan was very close to her young niece - even wanting to adopt her and can be seen in many pictures with her in the 1930s. In the late 1930's, Little Joan's mother separated from Hal, moved out of state and took the little girl with her. Joan kept in contact with her niece through the years, but they did not stay close. In images that exist of Joan's niece as an adult there is a noticeable resemblance to the LeSueur side of the family. After Joan's death in 1977, Joan's niece felt slighted by not being named in Joan's will. She stayed out of the public spotlight in her later years and passed away around 1999-2000. She is survived by one son, Scott.

Please write again!

Best,
Casey

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April 2008

Hello, Casey:

I just discovered this wonderful website and am a big fan of your legendary grandmother. I live a town that is close to where your mother was born. I also lived in Memphis for over twenty years, and I believe your aunt used to live there.

My question is: Did you ever go to Memphis to visit your aunt? If so, I would love to hear your experiences.

Thanks for a great website!

Russell Moody

Jackson,TN



April 2008

Dear Russell,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

Oh Memphis! I was a freshman at Penn State University in 1990 when my mother, Cathy, first discovered that she and her sister Cindy had been adopted from the Tennessee Children's Home Society in 1947. About six months after their birth, and sadly the death of their birth mother, Joan adopted Cathy and Cindy and whisked them off to California.

My mother and I began traveling to Memphis in 1990 and into 1991, working with a local attorney and adoption rights activist Denny Glad. Ms. Glad was of great assistance in helping my mother open her adoption records. My mother finally had her day in court, but her plea to open her records was denied by a judge. Her adoption record was finally opened soon after, however, at which time she and my Aunt Cindy found their birth family.

They were born in Dyersburg, Tennessee, north of Memphis. I remember driving north through Jackson and onto Dyersburg to visit the cute town where my mother was born. It was just as I imagined, a sweet southern town with a classic downtown area.

After we met my mother's birth family, we spent lots of time in Memphis with our new found relatives.

I remember visiting downtown Memphis and checking out the resident ducks at The Peabody Hotel. My fondest Memphis food memory is eating a rack of dry-rubbed ribs at Corky's BBQ. Delicious!

The people we encountered in Memphis, Dyersburg and points in between were all nice and welcoming. True southern charm!

Thanks for the great letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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April 2008

HI again Casey!

If you click on 'photos' of your website and look at the early family photo before Joan was born, the photo's caption mentions "Joan's maternal grandmother Mary Ellen Johnson holding Joan's sister Daisy".

Did Joan have a sister Daisy, and if so, what ever became of her? I thought she only had an older brother?

Jon Bassett
Tampa Florida



April 2008

Dear Jon,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

Joan did indeed have an older sister named Daisy. Daisy passed away as a young girl and it left Hal LeSueur as Joan's only sibling. Joan was just a baby when Daisy died.

Joan's early life and extended family is always an interesting topic for me!

Thanks for the letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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April 2008

Hi and thanks for this very informative site about our beloved Joan Crawford! If you paste this link,
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pis&GRid=242&PIgrid=242&PIcrid=64525&PIpi=76141&

It will show you her head stone in New York, and on it it says she was born in "1908". Yet on a similar site they made a mistake amd said she was born on 1905, and your site says 1906. I wonder what it really is??

Either way, I love and still worship her and I am only 48!

Jim
Palm Springs, CA



April 2008

Hi Jim and welcome to the website!

One of the more intriguing Joan Crawford mysteries is her birth year. Joan always claimed 1908, biographers guess anywhere from 1904 to 1908. I think it is 1906.

Joan claimed 1908 because Texas didn't require birth certificates until 1908. She never wavered in her 1908 claim, so I will give her that one.

One of my friends in LA strongly suggests it is 1906, due to some in-depth research he has conducted over the years. He traveled to Joan's birthplace of San Antonio and then on to Lawton, Oklahoma. Again, his best estimate is 1906.

Joan's birthday, however, is not in question. March 23rd is her birthday. That is a fact!

Thanks for the letter and please do write again!

Best,
Casey

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April 2008


Hi Casey!

Just wanted to say "thanks" for being such a caring person. Your Grandmother did not deserve all the bad, vicious talk about her. What makes me even more mad is that the book was written after her death! Christina writing that awful book - I think she did tarnished your Grandmom's imagine. If there is anything I can do to help reverse that - let me know.

I am a fan of Joan. No other star had the quality she did! I am also a fan of Carole Lombard and what your Grandmother did after Lombard died just goes to show what kind of caring classy woman she was. John Garfield is my favorite actor. They played so well together in Humoresque!

Humoresque, The Damned Don't Cry, The Women, Mildred Pierce and Flamingo Road are among my favorites. I have a Poodle Pin that was once owned by your Grandmom.

ALL the best to you always!

Sincerely,
Karen



April 2008

Dear Karen,

Thanks for writing and welcome!

It has been a sincere pleasure corresponding with my grandmother's fans from all over the world. It is always fun to receive letters from my neighborhood, as Lower Gwynned is not too far from my home!

Thank you for your supportive comments about Joan. She, nor does anyone, deserve the vitriol expressed by Christina. It irks me as well that Christina waited until Joan passed away to publish her book. The least Christina could have done was allow Joan to defend herself.

I echo your comments on Carole Lombard. I am so proud of my grandmother for stepping into Ms. Lombard's role of M.J. Drew in They All Kissed the Bride after Ms. Lombard's death. Joan donated her salary for the film to the Red Cross. Turner Classic Movies showed this film recently and I hadn't seen it for years.

You have some great favorite Joan films. John Garfield and Joan put two great performances in Humoresque. I always found the film's ending troubling, because of the suicide scene, but the film tells a great story and the ending is part of the tragic story arc.

Joan's roles in The Women, The Damned Don't Cry, Mildred Pierce and Flamingo Road are all classics!

I would love to see a photo of the Poodle Pin!

Thanks for the letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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April 2008


Hi Casey,

Please let me begin by stating what an honor it is for me to communicate with Joan Crawford's grandson. I've been a devoted fan of hers for decades. She should be primarily remembered and admired for her many fine contributions to classic film and not for the rantings of an obviously spoiled, ungrateful daughter.

My question for you is this:

Have you read the new biography of Joan titled "NOT THE GIRL NEXT DOOR" and if so, what are your personal thoughts about it ?

Thanks so much and keep up the great work !

Katherine Craig
Hackettstown, N.J.



April 2008

Dear Katherine,

Thanks for the letter and welcome!

I very much appreciate your comments about my grandmother! It is a sincere pleasure to correspond with fans like you from all over the world.

I have indeed read Charlotte Chandler's new Joan biography. On February 25th, I attended an event at UCLA to commemorate my grandmother through Ms. Chandler's new book. The event was well attended and I met Ms. Chandler for the first time. She graciously gave me a copy of her book that evening and I read most of it on the flight back to Philadelphia the next day.

What I find most intriguing is reading or hearing direct quotes from my grandmother. The thing I regret most about her passing away these thirty one years ago is the fact that I can't visit with her and ask her questions about her life. Having an author like Charlotte Chandler transcribe her interviews with my grandmother is special to me for this reason alone.

The one item I found particularly interesting in Ms. Chandler's book is the revelation that my grandmother knew exactly what Christina was cooking up prior to her death. I have always thought that my grandmother had an inkling that Christina was preparing some type of nasty manifesto. Ms. Chandler quotes Joan on the subject. Christina and Christopher should have understood exactly why they were disinherited.

Generally, I found the book to be a good read and encourage others to pick up a copy.

Thanks for the letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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April 2008

Casey,

I would like to start by telling you how much I love to watch your grandmother. She has endless talent and beauty. I don't want to bring anything negative to the board but I do have some questions and this is ASK CASEY.

Do you think that perhaps your mother and her twin sister where to young to remember the so called abuse. Is it possible your grandmother could have been bipolar or manic. I have heard that in some abuse cases that the abuser will abuse one child but not all. And in this matter it is two against two really. Also it has been claimed that Christina was adopted illegally through the black market. What are your ideas about this?

Thank you so much!

Ashley
NC



April 2008

Dear Ashley,
Thank you for the letter and welcome to the website!

I thank you for your candor. I've never shied away from any hard questions and yours goes right to the heart of my Aunt Christina's claims of abuse.

I have never taken the position that my Aunt Christina and Uncle Christopher were not abused. I have only their word against my dead grandmother. I do wish, however, that Christina would have published her book while Joan was alive. I find it disingenuous that Christina waited until after her mother's death to publish something as incendiary as Mommie Dearest.

Christina was born in 1939 and my mother and Aunt Cindy were born in 1947, an eight year difference. Anything could have happened in those eight years, but I must rely on my mother's word. She and my Aunt Cindy have always defended Joan from Christina's accusations.

According to Christina, she was adopted through a Las Vegas "baby broker," after Joan was deemed to be an unfit mother by Los Angeles County because she was single. Remember, this was 1939, almost seventy years ago. Oh how times have changed!

Thanks for the letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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April 2008

Casey,

I was just reading the letters you receive. I also grew up in Allentown, PA. I attended Parkland High School in Orefield. The memories I have of Mohr's Orchard. My mother worked for The William Morris Agency. I have always heard wonderful things about your grandmother. I will you would really set the record straight about your grandmother. I think people deserve the truth.

My question is do you think your grandmother had any regrets? If yes do you know what they were? You are such a wonderful person Casey.

Take care,

Faye Scottsdale,
Scottsdale,Arizona



April 2008

Dear Faye,

Thanks for the letter and a warm welcome!

I just loved the letter I received recently about the Orefield, PA area. The letter brought back such great memories of growing up in the Sand Spring Apartments and my father working at Mohr Orchards. I can still taste the freshly made apple cider the Orchard would sell in their retail store!

I will bet your mother has some interesting stories about working at William Morris. All those stars and all that Hollywood intrigue! I would love to hear some of her stories . . .

Thank you for the lovely comments. I am just doing my small part to defend my grandmother's reputation.

As for any regrets, I pose two (in my opinion only). My first supposition is that although happy to be working in her SIXTH decade (1920's through 1970's) in Hollywood, her choice of roles diminished greatly over time. Even after winning her Oscar for Mildred Pierce in 1946, good, juicy roles were fewer and far between. Although she had some good roles in Autumn Leaves (1956), Sudden Fear (1952) and The Story of Esther Costello (1957), her late career had such fare as Strait-Jacket (1964), Berserk! (1967) and the horrifyingly bad Trog (1970). She was happy to be working and paying her bills, but she must have regretted the roles coming her way.

Second, I offer that another of the biggest regrets of Joan's life was the very bad childhood she suffered, following her family's abandonment by Henry Cassin. I believe her experiences working for her family and working through school made her the women she became. Due to the life lessons she learned while growing up, I don't know if Joan would have given up the hard-knock life she experienced for a more middle-class upbringing. Her difficult childhood colored everything about her life and career.

Thank you for the very interesting letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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April 2008

Hello Casey,

I have been a fan of your grandmother since I was eight years old.

My question is: "Do you ever think that Joans' reputation will ever be fully repaired so that people will eventually remember her as the woman, the star, the humanitarian, and human being that she was?

Cookie Jackson
Fort Worth, Texas



April 2008

Hi Cookie!

Thanks for the wonderful letter!

Christina did some incredible damage to my grandmother's reputation and legacy. Joan's six-decade long Hollywood career, significant charitable work and contributions and memory as a dedicated mother, friend, coworker and grandmother were decimated by Christina's accusations. Mommie Dearest, both book and movie, did two things: it destroyed Joan's overall reputation, yet ironically kept her in the forefront of pop culture for the last thirty years.

I do believe my grandmother's reputation will ultimately rebound to its pre-Mommie Dearest level sooner than later. With website's like Legendary Joan Crawford and honest books like Charlotte Chandler's "Not the Girl Next Door," a balance will be brought again to the examination of Joan's life and career without the shrill "Mommie Dearest" angle.

To read letters like yours and the hundreds of others I have answered on this website, I find encouragement that a super majority of fans want her reputation restored. Through an honest assessment of her life and career, I believe it will happen!

Thanks for the fantastic letter and please do write again!

Best,
Casey

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April 2008

Casey,

You have a most wonderful website devoted to your grandmother, Joan Crawford. Anything and everything is just about available for the true fan to consume.

What I like best about Joan is her strong resolve, that toughness and determination she brings across in a lot of her characters. Whenever I get in a situation where I need help, I always ask myself, 'what would Joan do?' "How would she handle the situation?" Her characters are an inspiration to facing and conquering the challenges of everyday life!!!

So while I don't have a question, I wanted to express my admiration that I find in her characterizations.

Jon Bassett
Tampa ,Florida



April 2008

Dear Jon,
Thank you for the fabulous comments and welcome!

Master website artist Neil Maciejewski approached me sometime ago with the idea of me answering fan letters just like my grandmother did over her entire career. The experience has been one of the most rewarding endeavors I have ever undertaken in my life. Each new letter brings a some new insight into my grandmother's life and career.

I couldn't agree more that Joan's obvious resolve in her personal life is expressed time and time again on-screen. I suppose that is why I just love Mildred Pierce, because the film so mirrors many aspects of her life. From the hardscrabble early life to her rise to success and betrayal by her daughter, the role of Mildred Pierce was perfect for Joan. So perfect she won an Oscar!

I find myself occasionally asking myself the same question, "What would Joan do?" I know my grandmother was a proud but self-conscious person and wanted the best from life and career. She never gave up striving for professionalism during her career and to provide a loving home for her family.

Thanks for the lovely letter and please write again!

Best,

Casey

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