Joan Crawford, born March 23, 1908, got into show business as a dancer first. She moved to Hollywood and made a lasting impression on many producers and studio executives with her outstanding performances. After landing her role of a lifetime, she joined Warner Bros and received an Oscar for Best Actress. We love her, too, and wish to celebrate her special day right here.
Lucille Fay LeSueur
March 23, 1908
May 10, 1977 (age 69)
Joan Crawford was born in San Antonio, Texas, to parents Thomas and Anna Bell Johnson LeSueur. Crawford had two siblings: her brother, Hal LeSueur, and her sister, Daisy LeSueur. She was raised by her stepfather, Henry Cassin, who gave her the name Billie Cassin, by which some people knew her.
After spending some time in her stepfather’s local opera house and open-air theater, Crawford got sparked with a new interest. She aspired to become a dancer and an entertainer. She started as part of a traveling dance troupe before M.G.M spotted her. But before this, Crawford worked as a waitress and maid to raise funds to pay her college tuition fees. In 1929, she had her big break starring with Ronald Montgomery in “Untamed.” In 1940 she adopted her first child, Christina Crawford, and then later adopted three other children, Christopher, Cathy, and Cindy. In 1943 she left M.G.M. for Warner Bros. She later won an Oscar for Best Actress for her lead role in “Mildred Pierce.”
After several failed marriages, Crawford inherited a position on the board of directors at Pepsi-Cola, following the unfortunate death of her husband, Alfred Steele. Before her death and during her career, she invested time in keeping constant communication with her fans and doing a few charitable works, which she rarely spoke about. She paid for hundreds of surgeries for people she did not necessarily know, and in 1971, she released a memoir titled “My Way of Life.”
Joan Crawford is spotted by M.G.M. while dancing in a chorus line.
Crawford appears in the silent horror movie "The Unknown," where she learns that standing in front of a camera differs greatly from acting in front of a camera.
Crawford adopts her first child, Christina Crawford, from a baby broker.
Crawford leaves M.G.M. and signs with Warner Bros, where her career skyrockets, winning award after award.
Crawford’s outstanding performance in “Mildred Pierce” earns her an Oscar Academy Award for Best Actress, making her the 26th actress to ever receive the award.
After the death of her husband, Crawford joins the Pepsi-Cola board of directors, inheriting the position her husband held.
Crawford publishes a memoir, “My Way of Life,” letting us in on some of her secrets and aspects of her personal life.
Why We Love Joan Crawford
She was humble in her giving
Although she had a lot going for her, Joan Crawford made it a point to be remembered for her generosity. She donated funds worth $300,000 from her salary to The American Red Cross and paid for patients who needed surgery. She preferred to keep her charitable contributions out of discussions.
She held her fans in high regard
Unlike many celebrities who do not dedicate much of their time to their fans, Crawford loved hers so much that she felt she owed it to them to be in constant interaction with them, seeing them as the reason for her success. Not many celebrities hold their fans in such high regard, let alone invite them for a one-night sleepover.
Her determination is inspiring
To go from a fatherless child to a movie star and an executive at Pepsi-Cola has to be one of the most outstanding achievements ever. Crawford was not born into riches or fame, but with the little she had and the talent she recognized in herself, she took it to heart to unlock her full potential and let it take her where she wanted to be.
5 Surprising Facts
How she got her name
Born Lucille Fay LeSueur, Joan Crawford assumed her now-famous name in a contest where participants were allowed to choose their stage names.
She got married four times
Crawford got married four times in her life: the first three of her marriages ended in divorce, and the last one was due to the passing of her spouse.
She had a sleepover with a fan
She loved her fans so much that she spent her free time responding to their mails, and, before her passing, she even invited one fan for a sleepover.
She was a ‘neat freak’
Crawford used to have an obsession for cleanliness — so much so that she would wipe everything her guests touched in her house, wash her hands every 10 minutes, and never smoke from a cigar pack touched by anyone else but her.
Her birth year is a mystery
Her birth year is surprisingly unknown; although Crawford herself had always claimed the year 1908, these claims were without solid proof.
Joan Crawford FAQs
What killed Joan Crawford?
Crawford died of a heart attack, at her apartment in Lenox Hill, New York City.
Where was Joan Crawford buried?
Crawford’s final resting place is at Ferncliff Cemetery, New York.
How long did Joan Crawford stay at Pepsi?
Crawford inherited her husband’s position after his death in 1959 and held it until 1973 — 14 years!
Joan Crawford’s birthday dates