Name at birth: Lucille Fay Le SueurJoan Crawford was a bubbly ingenue of silent films during the "flapper era" of the late 1920s. As her bubbly years passed she reinvented herself as a more glamorous Hollywood star of the 1930s and 40s, winning an Oscar for her role as a housewife-turned-businesswoman in Mildred Pierce (1945). Despite these successes, Joan Crawford is often remembered for an even later persona -- the severe and neurotic former beauty in heavy makeup -- based on the horror and suspense films she made in the 1960s. Among those films was the hit Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962), in which she appeared with her real-life rival Bette Davis. Joan Crawford's reputation was tarnished by Mommie Dearest, a 1978 biography by her adopted daughter Christina, which described Crawford as a harshly abusive alcoholic. (Christina's allegations of being beaten with a wire coat hanger gained particular fame.) The book was made into a 1981 movie of the same name, starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford.
Joan Crawford?s first husband was actor Douglas Fairbanks, Jr?. Her fourth husband was Alfred Steele, chairman of the board of soft drink maker Pepsi Cola; after Steele?s 1959 death, Crawford herself served on the Pepsi board? Joan Crawford was directed by a young Steven Spielberg in a 1969 episode of the TV series Night Gallery? Her year of birth is uncertain; Crawford herself claimed 1908, but most biographers think 1904, 1905 or 1906 is more probable. We?ve chosen 1904 based on Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography (2002, by Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoell).
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