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Not the Girl Next Door: Joan Crawford, a Personal Biographyby Charlotte Chandler
"Almost everything else is underdeveloped, devoid of context, and badly located, as if the biographer were some incompetent prop mistress, misplacing all the glamorous clutter from the life of her subject, who, it's fair to say, would have hated this book for its sloppiness." Thomas Mallon, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
Synopses & Reviews
In this fascinating new biography of screen legend Joan Crawford, Charlotte Chandler draws on exclusive and remarkably candid interviews with Crawford herself and with others who knew her, including first husband Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Crawford's daughter Cathy. As a result, this biography is fresh and revealing, a brand-new look at one of Hollywood's most acclaimed stars.
Joan Crawford was born Lucille LeSueur in San Antonio, Texas, in 1908 (as she always insisted, though other sources disagreed). Her father abandoned the family, and her mother soon remarried; Lucille was now known as Billie Cassin. Young Billie loved to dance and achieved her early success in silent films playing a dancer. Her breakthrough role came in Our Dancing Daughters, Soon married to Hollywood royalty, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (who called her Billie), she was a star in her own right, playing opposite John Barrymore and a stellar cast in M-G-M's Grand Hotel.
Crawford was cast opposite another young star, Clark Gable, in several films. They would sometimes play lovers on screen — and off as well. After her marriage to Fairbanks broke up, Crawford married actor Franchot Tone. That marriage soon began to show strains, and Crawford was sometimes seen riding with Spencer Tracy, who gave her a horse she named Secret. Crawford left M-G-M for Warners, and around the time she married her third husband, Phillip Terry, she won her Oscar for best actress (one of three times she was nominated) in Mildred Pierce, But by the 1950s the film roles dried up. Crawford and Terry had divorced, and Crawford married her fourth husband, Pepsi-Cola executive Alfred Steele. In 1962, she and longtime cinematic rival Bette Davis staged a brief comeback in the macabre but commercial What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Following Steele's death, Crawford became a director of Pepsi-Cola while she continued raising her four adopted children. Although her daughter Christina would publish the scathing memoir Mommie Dearest after Crawford's death, Chandler offers a contrasting portrait of Crawford, drawing in part on reminiscences of younger daughter Cathy among others.
Not the Girl Next Door is perhaps Charlotte Chandler's finest Hollywood biography yet, an intimate portrait of a great star who was beautiful, talented, glamorous, and surprisingly vulnerable.In this fascinating new biography of screen legend Joan Crawford, Charlotte Chandler draws on exclusive and remarkably candid interviews with Crawford herself and with others who knew her, including first husband Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Crawford's daughter Cathy. As a result, this biography is fresh and revealing, a brand-new look at one of Hollywood's most acclaimed stars.
"In this sympathetic biography, Chandler (Ingrid: The Girl Who Walked Home Alone) chronicles Crawford's life — from a brutal Midwest childhood to her self-imposed exile in New York. Crawford (1905 1977) began as a dancer, but her extraordinary features, perfect for the new medium of film, served her well. Her career spanned silents to Hollywood's golden era, and her body of work is legendary — Grand Hotel, The Women and Mildred Pierce, to name just a few. Divided into 10 sections, including the luminous MGM and Warner years, the book provides a brief description of her films and studio life, and offers a sanitized view of her four marriages as well as a strong refutation of the 'Mommie Dearest' claims. Chandler isn't interested in sex or scandal; she had, however, extensively interviewed Crawford; her first husband, Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; and scores of film luminaries, like Myrna Loy and Bette Davis. All reveal a hardworking, disciplined and generous woman who lived for work. 'Joan Crawford and her camera. It was the greatest love affair I have ever known,' said director George Cukor. Chandler's bio is a breezy, laudatory read that would have pleased Crawford, who was fiercely protective of her iconic status." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[I]ndispensable for future considerations of Crawford." Los Angeles Times
"This is the definitive book on Crawford's life and her career. It's entertaining while offering convincing authenticity." Rocky Mountain News
About the Author
Charlotte Chandler's first book, Hello, I Must Be Going, was a bestseller about Groucho Marx. Her second book, The Ultimate Seduction, included conversations with Mae West, Tennessee Williams, Henry Moore, and others. Her next book, I, Fellini, was a New York Times notable book and has been published in twenty-five foreign editions. Her book about Billy Wilder, Nobody's Perfect, is being produced as a stage play by David Brown. Chandler is a member of the board of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and is active in film preservation. She lives in New York City and is currently finishing a book on Bette Davis.
Table of Contents
1. Dancing Daughter (1908 1924)
"Mommie Wasn't a Movie Star in Our House"
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