Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography

Overview

Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography explores the life and career of one of Hollywood's great dames. She was a leading film personality for more than fifty years, from her beginnings as a dancer in silent films of the 1920s, to her portrayals of working-class shop girls in the Depression thirties, to her Oscar-winning performances in classic films such as Mildred Pierce. Crawford's legacy has become somewhat tarnished in the wake of her daughter Christina's memoir, Mommie Dearest, which turned her into a ...

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Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography

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Overview

Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography explores the life and career of one of Hollywood's great dames. She was a leading film personality for more than fifty years, from her beginnings as a dancer in silent films of the 1920s, to her portrayals of working-class shop girls in the Depression thirties, to her Oscar-winning performances in classic films such as Mildred Pierce. Crawford's legacy has become somewhat tarnished in the wake of her daughter Christina's memoir, Mommie Dearest, which turned her into a national joke. Today, many picture Crawford only as a wire hanger-wielding shrew rather than the personification of Hollywood glamour. This new biography of Crawford sets the record straight, going beyond the gossip to find the truth about the legendary actress. The authors knew Crawford well and conducted scores of interviews with her and many of her friends and co-stars, including Frank Capra, George Cukor, Nicholas Ray, and Sidney Greenstreet. Far from a whitewash — Crawford was indeed a colorful and difficult character — Joan Crawford corrects many lies and tells the story of one of Hollywood's most influential stars, complete with on-set anecdotes and other movie lore. Through extensive interviews, in-depth analysis, and evaluation of her films and performances — both successes and failures — Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoell present Crawford's story as both an appreciation and a reevaluation of her extraordinary life and career. Filled with new interviews, Joan Crawford tells the behind-the-scenes story of the Hollywood icon. Lawrence J. Quirk is the author of many books on film, including Bob Hope: The Road Well-Traveled. William Schoell is the author of several entertainment-related books, including Martini Man: The Life of Dean Martin.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
She wasn't the greatest actress of the silver screen, but was there ever a bigger star than Joan Crawford? Who else had made ten films with Gable, danced with Fred Astaire, won an Academy Award for best actress (in 1945, for Mildred Pierce), outlasted her contemporary Greta Garbo by nearly three decades-and was hardly ever in a good film? And just as she was fading from memory, she got a new lease on notoriety with the publication of adopted daughter Christina's Mommie Dearest. In a dual preface, Quirk (The Films of Joan Crawford), a personal friend of the actress, rejects much of that highly unflattering account, while Schoell (Martini Man: The Life of Dean Martin) debunks it entirely. Their study is a thoroughgoing, evenhanded review of Crawford's life and work, which in tone is neither academic nor gossipy but rather confessional, as if they are eager to set the record straight. It should go a long way toward restoring Crawford's reputation as a hardworking professional who lived for her fans and managed to slap almost every leading man who ever played opposite her. In Sunset Boulevard, Gloria Swanson's character famously observed, "I'm still big; it's the pictures that got small." Perhaps the same could be said of Crawford. Recommended for all film collections in public and academic libraries.-Edward Cone, New York Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Just when you though you'd heard the last work on Joan Crawford, here comes another bio aimed straight at you, the gale male Crawford fan." — Adelante Magazine

"Expert.... The woman who emerges from these pages was tough, demanding, self-obsessed, horny, generous, and loyal." — Bay Area Reporter

"This bio covers her entire career — a career that could only have been possible because of Joan's magnitude to listen and improve herself as she climbed higher and higher on the Hollywood ladder." — Buzz Magazine

"Quirk complies the biographical links, recounting in an objective manner Crawford's progress from studio call girl, her multiple marriages and extensive list of lovers." — Charleston (SC) Post & Courier

"Tells the whole saga, from difficult childhood to wanton chorus girl and starlet days (lots of juicy tidbits included) — blind ambition, Mommy dearest — it's all here, together with a complete filmography." — Copley News Service

"A tough-minded but fair and immensely readable analysis of this legendary lady's colorful life and, especially, career. Lawrence J. Quirk knew Crawford and, with colleague William Schoell, writes with understanding but clear eyes. The result: the smartest, most absorbingly detailed and valuable work yet on a woman who was far more than a Mommie Dearest — one of the great stars of the 20th century." — Doug McClelland

"An expert overview of the temperamental diva's career." — Film Review

"A thoroughgoing, evenhanded review of Crawford's life and work, which in tone is neither academic nor gossipy but rather confessional, as if they are eager to set the record straight." — Library Journal

"This work makes a strenuous effort to clear Crawford's name of the child abuse cloud that has hung over her image since the publication of Christina Crawford's Mommie Dearest and the fabulously out-of-control movie that book spawned." — Liz Smith

"Unique in its scrupulous analysis of Crawford's entire body of work." — McCormick (SC) Messenger

"Unique in its scrupulous analysis of Crawford's entire body of work. Schoell and Quirk move beyond the myths and misconceptions to look at her film work, which in many respects was Crawford's life." — Pink Pages

"A serious study." — Richmond Times-Dispatch

"An entertaining read... especially in the scene where a persevering Quirk tries to convince the legend that gay men have a special thing about her — which she won't believe on any account." — Sight & Sound

"Joan Crawford was a sexual dynamo who used her bedroom prowess to seduce Hollywood's biggest starts — both male and female." — The Globe

"This most welcome book goes a long way toward restoring the reputation of the most glamorous star to emerge from the Hollywood dream factory." — The State (Columbia, SC)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813122540
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 9/28/2002
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 704,816
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 1.08 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2006

    I wanted a Biography, not a Filmography!

    I recently took an interest in Joan Crawford. After seeing Mommie Dearest I realised that there was more to this women that many people belived to be a monster (myself not included). I bought this book in hopes of learning about the life of Joan Crawford, and her story. What I read was basically a Filmography. I know that Joan Crawford was an actress, and that she did many movies, of course that would be talked about in the book, but I didn't think it would be the whole book. The reading does not have a nice flow to it, it skips around and mentions things out of the blue. It has some interesting details of her personal life, but mostly it describes her movies, and does a poor job at that. I am sorry, but I did not like this book. I hope that her personal biography (Her lIfe in Letters) will be more revealing!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2002

    excellent biography

    The most thorough biography of Joan I have ever read. What a gutsy lady! The author's do not shy away from the accusations of child abuse but instead point out the glaring inconsistencies of Christina Crawford's sometimes outlandish claims.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2002

    WOW

    My goodness! Finally Joan is defended. Also great discription of her life and career.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2002

    This Woman Is Dangerously Misunderstood

    Finally, there seems to be angels looking out for the much-smeared reputation of Joan Crawford. The authors clearly admired their subject's gutsy ambition in Hollywood. Indeed, Joan Crawford was terribly misunderstood and was unfairly painted by daughter Christina Crawford as a monster. This book should partially restore her reputation-she deserves it. The book is full of facts but there are also many quotes from the star herself. She was a funny, gutsy woman-too bad people hold her in such a negative light. The book looks at all her film roles and weighs them fairly. She was not a great actress, but no one did it like her, and no one ev

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2002

    Good addition to the Crawford Bios,very readable

    I am a big fan of Joan Crawford.I found this biography of her very well written. It is alot of fun to read if you like books about Hollywood and the Studio System. She was the Queen of Hollywood in my opinion. So get a copy and enjoy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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