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Ask Casey September 2008

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September 2008

Hello Casey,

I just read on a less than stellar Joan Crawford website, called "The Best of Everything," that Joan's long lost Oscar has been found! It states that you tried to contact this person who allegedly has Joan's Oscar and that person didn't want to contact you. Is any of this true?

I am finding the claims to be made up or untrue. Could you shed some light on this? This 'other' Joan website seems to love attention and this claim smells something awful.

A faithful fan of your site,

Kim
New York City



September 2008

Dear Kim,

Thank you for the letter and welcome!

I never view The Best of Everything site, so you are the first to tell me the information posted about Joan's Oscar being "found." Christopher Koelsch, I believe, contacted Neil Maciejewski sometime in the last year or more, claiming that he "knew a guy" or something like that, who now owned the Oscar. I of course asked for more information, but nothing ever came of it. I thought at the time that this was some kind of prank or joke because no evidence was offered that Christopher's information was true.

Now I see that The Best of Everything site posted a similar note from the Christopher Koelsch stating the same information. I asked Mr. Koelsch for the information but he never followed up. His letter states that his "landlord" owns it and bought it for "50 thou." Since the Oscar originally sold for over $68,000 fourteen years ago, I doubt that he bought it for "50 thou" given the remarkable movie collectible market. In addition, Christopher claims his landlord bought the Oscar at an auction. I would suspect that a public auction containing my grandmother's Oscar would have brought national media attention. Unless this was a private, secret auction, we all would have heard about it and I would have been on the first plane to bid.

I would caution all Joan Crawford fans to check their facts before making any statements. I would like some real proof before the ownership of the Oscar is made fact to be owned by some guy in West Hollywood.

Thanks for the letter and please do write again!

Best,
Casey

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September 2008

Casey,

I think it's wonderful what you're doing. I too (like many many others, it seems) fell in love with your grandmother's work due to watching 'Mommie Dearest'. The movie left me intrigued with your grandmother. So I watched her 'real work'. What a talented talented actress!

My question (and it might have already been asked and answered; if so, I apologize). What happens with all the money made from showing and selling her movies now? It doesn't seem right that the family doesn't get any of this??? Who gets it?

Jean Hartley
Fort Wayne Indiana



September 2008

Dear Jean,

Thank you for the letter and welcome to the website!

It is a real joy to know that you moved beyond Mommie Dearest and have come to know and love my grandmother's work!

You have asked a very interesting, yet complex legal question. My grandmother's will left $77,500 cash to my mother and Aunt Cindy, $5,000 cash to each of the four grandchildren, with most of her real property (apartment furnishings and other small personal property) to my mother Cathy. As you know, Joan's will specifically excluded Christina and Christopher: "It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son Christopher or my daughter Christina for reasons which are well known to them."

As my grandmother was a very generous person to her family, friends and charities. The remainder of her cash estate was divided among various friends and several charities, including The Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital, The Muscular Dystrophy Association and the USO. Each of the several charities received a specific portion of the cash estate.

Joan was one of the first Hollywood stars to sign contracts with a part of the "back end" film profits, meaning that she took a smaller or no salary for starring in a film, but took part of the profits. She did this in several films, including Strait Jacket, in which she took a smaller up-front salary for a specific percentage of the film's ultimate profit. Those profits continue to roll in today, and are distributed to each charity, based on her will.

The more interesting aspect of your question is one of intellectual property rights. The concept of intellectual property rights was not a hard and fast rule in 1977, so it is a bit cloudy when reviewing my grandmother's will. By precedent, the family retains the intellectual property rights, unless they are specifically bequeathed to someone other than the family. In this case, however, Joan's will does not specifically do that. However, the family has never interfered with the various charities' receipt of profits from Joan's various films in which she earns back end profits. For clarification, a super-majority of her films from the 1920's through most of the 1950's, are the usual studio films. All of the profits by MGM, Warner Bros., etc., are owned entirely by the studios.

I hope this answers your question!

Thanks and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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September 2008

Casey,

I just saw the movie "Mommie Dearest." I heard it was not true! Good movie I enjoyed it. I bet you here that all the time my question is this: you have an outstanding legacy that "appears" to be separated. Settle the past and move on and love your loved ones. Don't let the "mess" of show business separate and steal the love of a great family. Kiss and make up! Is that possible!?

Brian N.
Columbus Ohio



September 2008

Dear Brian,

Thanks for the letter and welcome.

I truly hope now that you have seen the campy monstrosity Mommie Dearest, you will take some time and watch some REAL Joan Crawford movies. Here is a short list of readily available Joan films on DVD: Mildred Pierce (1945), Humoresque (1946), Grand Hotel (1932) and The Women (1939).

What you viewed in Mommie Dearest was Faye Dunaway TRYING to be Joan Crawford. She didn't succeed, and the awful, campy, weird film is the result. Faye Dunaway's career has never been the same. Dunston Checks In (1996) is indicative of most of her work post-Mommie Dearest, except for the entertaining Albino Alligator (also 1996).

Even my Aunt Christina, author of the book Mommie Dearest, didn't like the movie. She wrote the book and didn't like what the film producers, actors and director brought to the big screen.

As for kissing and making up, that's Christina's job. Christopher and my Aunt Cindy passed away last year, so it just Christina and my mother remaining. My mom will most likely never accept an apology from Christina for the thirty-plus years of venom spewed from Christina. Moreover, Christina is not one to apologize for anything . . .

Thanks for the letter and please write again.

Best,
Casey

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September 2008

Hi Casey,

I remember those cold bottle Pepsi's at my grandmothers house as well and it was like heaven to be there with her.
I just wonder why the step daughter of Joan Crawford would make Joan out to be this scary dark person? Was it for money for the book? I saw the movie many times and always felt it was a major exaggeration and a stab at a great legendary actress like your grandma. I always will look at her work as absolute brilliance. No one is perfect but was in your opinion the step daughter just a gold digger or maybe jealous of the famous mother?

Hope to here from you!

Shawn Hazeleur
Redding CA



September 2008

Dear Shawn,

Thank you for the letter and welcome to the website!

Thank you for the insightful comments. I have tried for several years, against the advice of close friends, to treat my Aunt Christina with kid gloves. Christina is unpredictable and I can never preclude the notion that she would sue for libel / slander if I went too far in my attacks upon her. Therefore, through this wonderful forum made possible by Neil Maciejewski, I let devoted Joan fans like you knock Christina down to size.

Mommie Dearest, both the novel and film, were abominations. Christina has said herself that the movie was nothing like she envisioned, that it was over the top and a gross caricature of Joan Crawford. That said, we are almost thirty years past both the book and film, so we can (hopefully) now move away from carnage brought on by both spectacular attacks on my grandmother.

Money? Jealousy? Contempt for writing her out of the will? You decide! They are all plausible and possible reasons for writing the book.

Thanks for the letter and please do write again!

Best,
Casey

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September 2008

Hi Casey,

Just wanted to say that no matter what happened in her personal life your grandmother was one hell of an actress and I always enjoy watching her movies... : )

Analisa
California



September 2008

Dear Analisa,

Thank you very much for your heartfelt comments!

I just love receiving letters like yours, filled with such wonderful sentiment! It has been such a pleasure corresponding with fans like you for the past several years. I look forward to continuing this wonderful forum for as long as fans write to me.

As always, I must thank Neil Maciejewski for creating this interesting and fun forum for Joan Crawford fans to discuss her life and career.

Thanks for the letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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September 2008

Casey,

Did Joan want to have children of her own and could or did she want to keep her beautiful in fear she would lose it if she had a baby?

Maria V.
Florida



September 2008

Dear Maria,

Thank you for the letter and welcome!

With the adoption of (at least) four children during her life, Joan wanted above all to have and provide a loving, caring environment for a family. The many biographies and her own autobiography paint the picture of a poverty-filled childhood. Her early life was not the stable, normal childhood all kids need and want.

Over the course of her early marriages to Douglass Fairbanks, Jr., Philip Terry and Franchot Tone, Joan had several miscarriages. Although Joan loved working in Hollywood, I am sure she would have traded her career for a family. However, she then turned to adoption and found that she could (had to, in all honesty) continue to work and raise a family at the same time.

No matter what Christina wrote in her book, my mother Cathy tells of a loving, warm household. Joan provided everything the children needed, most of which Joan never had during her tumultuous childhood.

Thanks for the letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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September 2008

Hi Casey...

When I was growing up (I'm 31 now), I loved the movie Mommie Dearest. As I have gotten older, I have wondered more and more about Joan Crawford and the movies content. I became fascinated as an adult with the starlets REAL life and whether or not the movie had any truth to it. When I was young I (of course) just assumed it was real. Now I believe very little of it if any. My question to you is...As her nephew, why do you think Christina wrote that book? Why do you think she wanted to defame her mother the way she did?

Thanks so much for your attention.

Amy Hailey
Winston-Salem, NC



September 2008

Dear Amy,

Thank you for the letter and welcome to the website!

I am very glad that you have moved on from Mommie Dearest to learn more about the real Joan Crawford. You are one of countless younger fans whose first exposure to Joan was via the Mommie Dearest "movie." There are still many fans who are exposed to Mommie Dearest on a yearly basis and hope that they too will want to discover more information about the real life and career of this Hollywood icon.

As I have said previously, fans like you answer the question about Christina's motive pretty easily. Money, jealousy and Christina being generally upset that she was written out of her mother's will probably all contributed to Christina publishing the book. It was been pretty well established that Christina had been writing the book for some time before Joan's death and that Christina capitalized on her mother's death to publish the book. In Charlotte Chandler's recent biography Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford a Personal Biography, the author states succinctly that Joan knew precisely what Christina's plans were for a tell-all memoir. Joan was betrayed by Christina and that is why Christina was removed from the will.

That time period alone could make for a fascinating movie of the week, if told honestly and with accurately!

Thanks for the letter and please write again!

Best,
Casey

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