WEIRDLAND: Just Joan: A Joan Crawford Appreciation

Friday, August 01, 2014

Just Joan: A Joan Crawford Appreciation

The small percentage of actual conversations Jane Ellen Wayne had with Joan Crawford, originally related to her Robert Taylor bio, although full of fascinating and salty observations, are also “ad-libbed” since she openly admits she doesn’t carry a tape recorder. Her opinion of Joan Crawford remains hard to gauge, which lends an indifferent quality to the whole thing. It’s as if Wayne was a Taylor devotee who, while using Crawford as a source for her bio Robert Taylor: The Man With the Perfect Face, decided to take a stab at Joan as well, although not quite liking or ever understanding her much. Her meetings with Crawford, however fudged the dialogue, are the highlights of the book. Cherry picking juicy details out of sequence, Wayne boldly reassembles the moment when Crawford catches second hubby Franchot Tone in his dressing room with another starlet. The invented conversation is heavy on exposition.

Crawford: “Maybe that’s why I’m making three hundred thousand dollars a year and you only make fifty thousand dollars. Everything, sex included, should be kept in proper perspective. I might add that your excessive drinking hasn’t helped.” Tone: “How else can I face you at the front door each night?” Crawford: “Perhaps you blame my ambition, but I put the blame on your lack of it!” Then there is an alleged loud clatter which causes the guard to move closer to the door. Crawford to Tone: “Go ahead. I’ve become quite adept at covering black eyes and bruises with clever makeup.” Was Wayne there in the dressing room at the time? No. And if she was, she didn’t have a tape recorder. Ain’t it nice when nonfiction allows writers to create fiction?

Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Star by Alexander Walker - Many tidbits are amusing. While married to first husband Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., their home was “furnished for a perpetual honeymoon” with a knocker on the hall door “sculpted in the shape of two heads, male and female, their lips pressed together in a kiss.” The sunporch was stacked with hundreds of dolls, “as well as mechanical baby pigs, clucking hens, and Doug’s electric railway, which was his wife’s Christmas present to him.” When MGM signed Colonel McCoy, a stickler for authenticity, to the frontier drama Winners of the Wilderness, he “was not at all pleased when Pete Smith put out some publicity stills showing Crawford teaching Chief Big Tree the Charleston.” He notes that she always deferred to her husbands in the beginning, who were valued as much for education and savoir faire as sex appeal.

Franchot Tone got her to do radio, which she feared so much that her script pages were glued onto cardboard, “lest her shaky hand made them rustle. Franchot Tone kept a reassuring hand on her shoulder pad.” -"Just Joan: A Joan Crawford Appreciation" (2010) by Donna Marie Nowak

Joan Crawford & Franchot Tone perform "Chained" for Lux Radio Theatre. Presented & narrated by Cecil B. DeMille.

“Franchot Tone used to say stardom was like a Christmas tree — when they turn the lights on you know it’s Christmas, the rest of the time you sit and watch the needles drop.” -Joan Crawford

No comments :