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Joan Crawford: One Sherry, Standing Up

By , 20 March, 2009, 5 Comments

I have this problem where I forget just how crazy-flapper Joan Crawford was — especially when she was still Lucille Fay LeSueur.

Crawford In Our Modern Maidens

Crawford In Our Modern Maidens

(I guess that’s the problem when you’ve seen Mildred Pierce & The Women and not Mommy Dearest; you’ve grow accustomed to her brilliance and classic style.)

But the following interesting excerpt about Joan Crawford from Starlight Starbright, by Margaret Case Harriman, as it originally appeared in Vanity Fair, February, 1936, reminds me of Crawford’s wild & rowdy beginnings. (Links added by moi.)

In Hollywood, Joan set out to bring herself to public attention less by her work in pictures than by a continuous nightlife that would have put most girls under the sod. In less than two years she had won 84 cups in nightclub contests for dancing the Charleston, or by imitating Bee Jackson, the shimmy expert. She was, then, undistinguished in appearance from any other good-looking girl, except by her curiously arresting eyes. She hid the fine structure of her face by pulling her brown hair onto her cheeks and over her forehead, and by a careless mask of makeup. Latter, she dyed her hair a flaming red and rolled her stockings not quite far enough above her knee-length skirts.

Oh, I’m not saying that such a press puff piece doesn’t have it’s marketing agendas; and if you read the whole article, you’ll see the clear effort to move Joan from Flapper to a more mature (matronly) actress status (though it honestly reads more like a sales pitch to convince people in a post-WWII world). But when you see this photo of Joan Crawford looking like Madonna from her Desperately Seeking Susan days, I guess it’s pretty clear why the public would need a push.

Lucille Fay LeSuer (AKA Joan Crawford)

Lucille Fay LeSuer (AKA Joan Crawford)

Whatever your thoughts on Joan (and she’s certainly one who inspires the “lover her or hate her” response), I double-dog-dare you not to be amused by this last bit from the vintage Vanity Fair issue:

She drinks wine now and then, but no hard liquor. At dinner parties given by Joan and Franchot Tone, the guests gather in the music room before dinner, on stools along the bar, while Franchot goes behind to mix cocktails. Joan wanders around happily enough with a glass of sherry. Once she saw a row of women sitting on stools along a bar, and the contours where each lady met the stool frightened her. Since, she has taken her sherry standing up.

Probably good advice for any ladies drinking this weekend *wink*

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5 Responses {+}
  • kate gabrielle

    How interesting! For me it’s not love her or hate her– I really like her early movies, and then I think her late ones are o.k. But I don’t love her or hate her…

    Frankly I think she looks her best in that Madonna-ish picture (it looks a lot like her prostitute character in Rain) She looks so hard boiled and sassy.

    Raquelle forwarded your blog to me two days ago and I’ve been enchanted with it ever since! Definitely one of my favorites now 🙂

  • The Horny Time Traveler

    I like those excerpts, and that Madonna-esque shot is striking. She’s definitely somebody I’m growing more interested in. Never found her that compelling, but after watching Mildred Pierce again the other night, I started thinking perhaps I’d been missing something. Always kept thinking of her in two roles: her lonely editor in The Best of Everything, and her lovelorn socialite in Humoresque. But about a year ago I saw her in Daisy Kenyon (on the big screen at NY’s Film Forum) and it was a pleasant wakeup call. So I was more attentive when Mildred Pierce came on.

  • craig

    I’m afraid that photograph of Lucille Fay LeSuer (AKA Joan Crawford) is a fake…it’s a photo-shopped amalgamation of the Desperately Seeking Susan period Madonna and Joan as Sadie Thompson.

  • Val

    I was stunned when I came across the photo of Joan looking just like Madonna! I posted it on my instagram account because I found it so interesting. Since posting it I have been told by a few that it’s photo shopped. I myself began to wonder since the style doesn’t quite fit for the 1930s. In search of answers I ended up here. I’m just curious & wondered if you knew the answer. Either way it’s a very interesting photo

  • Jaynie Van Roe

    It supposedly *is* photoshopped — but the fashions aren’t really that far off.

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